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Foreign governments spend millions to influence Russian elections

Various foreign states have spent more than $80 million to influence Russian elections, the deputy director of the Institute for Strategic Studies and Forecasts of the Russian People's Friendship University, said.

Published: September 23, 2017, 11:54 am

    Nikita Danyuk said the data presented in the report revealed “the facts of interference in the information sovereignty of Russia before the presidential elections”.

    Danyuk explained that there were three possible conduits for financing through which foreigners could influence the processes inside the country, singling out information wars.

    “The information space is one of the main, if not the main, spheres through which it is possible to effectively try to manipulate the consciousness of the masses,” Danyuk noted.

    Influencing Russian public opinion happened through foreign media holdings, sponsoring in-Russian media content and supporting so-called independent Russian journalists.

    Dmitry Yegorchenkov, director of the Institute for Strategic Studies and Forecasts at Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia, agreed that the information war was ongoing.

    “The further the electoral cycle in Russia develops, the more information wars will be fought against our country, which should be prepared for,” he warned.

    Renowned Russian academic Aleksander Dugin has raised the subject that is not being discussed by the US establishment. He noted that Hillary Clinton’s campaign had been financed by some Russian oligarchs who form part of the same globalist swamp. Dugin called it a “Russian swamp” directing an information war on Russian soil.

    Russia’s Centre for Strategic Research (CSR) meanwhile warned in a report in June that the infowar could escalate. “By deepening the contradictions, Russia and the West lose time necessary in tackling common challenges. The existing paradigm of relations could escalate into a limited or into a large-scale military conflict. The outcome of such conflict for both Europe and the world would be unfortunate,” the report said.

    The United States government is currently spending tens of millions of dollars on an anti-Russian infowar, by slipping clauses into the thousands of pages of the annual defense policy bill passed by Congress, the Daily Beast reported.

    A bipartisan initiative led by Republican Sen. Rob Portman and Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy authorized $160 million over two years to promote propaganda through a little-known interagency office housed at the State Department called the Global Engagement Center (GEC).

    Sens. Ben Cardin and John McCain, have expanded it even further, dedicating an additional $100 million for the GEC and others to support Russian-language journalism directed against Moscow. The GEC will track campaigns on foreign soil, analyze tactics, and counter sovereign states through a series of grants to overseas journalists, civil-society organisations, and private companies.

    “This legislation will help support our allies and interests in this increasingly unstable world,” Portman told The Daily Beast. The measure upped their funding 16-fold. The GEC originally had just $5 million a year for operations.

    Deputy director Alina Polyakova, who is paid by the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, was an early supporter the GEC legislation.

    The United States began trying to create internet access and social-networking tools in order to promote dissidents and “democracy” activists, including ones in Russia, but other American information-warfare efforts, such as spending $24 million to fly a plane around Cuba, beaming US-sponsored television programming that the Cuban government immediately jams, have been ill-conceived or poorly executed.

    The interagency office will mark the first centralised propaganda effort against the Russians since the Cold War.

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