President Trump’s Boris Yeltsin Moment

Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – February 15, 2017) Leonid Bershidsky is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru. President Donald Trump is irritated about the media furor surrounding the departure of his national security adviser. “The real scandal here is that classified information is […]

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NEWSWATCH: “A way to get real news to Russia; A U.S. attempt to counter disinformation takes shape in Current Time” – Washington Post

Satellite Dishes

… Current Time television, a product of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Voice of America, is a 24/7 Russian-language television network based in Prague … aimed at audiences inside Russia as well as the borderlands of the former Soviet Union. … intended to provide ‘fair and accurate reporting, serving as a reality check on disinformation that is driving conflict […]

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Does Putin have a Trump Problem with the Media? Russians Say It is Failing to Report or Understand His Words

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Podium Gesturing

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 9, 2017) Since emerging on the public scene, Donald Trump has lashed out at what he calls “the lying media” for failing to report what he says and choosing instead to distort his message, a pattern that he says explains his preference for trying to reach the American people directly via […]

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NEWSWATCH: “LIFE UNDER ALTERNATIVE FACTS” – The New Yorker/Mikhail Iossel

There was no real cognitive dissonance existing in the minds of most people in the Soviet Union of the nineteen-seventies and eighties. Everyone knew that everything said on the radio or on television, everything (with the exception of weather reports or sports results) was a blatant lie, spoken pro forma …. no one was duped into thinking this was actually […]

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NEWSLINK: “U.S. Preps for Infowar on Russia” – DailyBeast/Tim Mak

Satellite Dishes

“While President Trump is still defending Vladimir Putin in public, American policymakers have finally awoken to Russian intervention in the U.S. democratic process-and are pumping tens of millions into a counter-propaganda initiative”

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Russians Less Convinced by Political Talk Shows than Audience Figures Suggest, Journalists Say

Adapted File Photo of TV Set in Russia with Camera, Camerman, Woman on Set in Background

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 2, 2017) Significant percentages of Russians watch political talk shows which now make up as much as 90 minutes of prime time every night, but that fact does not mean that they are entirely pleased by the structure and content of these shows or are greatly influenced in ways that help […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia investment and political stories go their separate ways” – bne/Intellinews/Ben Aris

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

“There are two Russias at the moment. The first is the evil “Putin’s Russia” that kills journalists, bombs civilians and invades other countries. Then there is “bull Russia”, where investors have been making fat profits ….”

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Free issues of Slavic Review in Washington

U.S. Capitol at Twilight With Washington Monument, National Mall, Washington, D.C., Environs and Sunset in Background

Subject: Free issues of Slavic Review in Washington Date: Mon, 16 Jan 2017 20:17:47 -0500 From: Yale Richmond <yale.richmond@verizon.net> Would you like to have 34 hard print issues of the Slavic Review (Vol. 67. #3 to Vol. 75, #4)). I no longer have use for them, and rather than trash them, I am looking for someone who might find them […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Inside the belly of Russia’s ‘propaganda machine’: A visit to RT news channel; US security services have fingered the channel as a key player in the Kremlin’s efforts to sway Western politics. But inside its offices, RT seems a far cry from what the US says it is – and what it aspires to be.” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

Satellite Dishes

… The network appears to have changed focus about five years ago to become more about promoting the Russian point of view on international affairs, and much less about covering Russia per se. It also became a platform for coverage of social problems in Western societies, government malfeasance, corporate non-accountability, and the dysfunctions of democracy that often contrasts in tone, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Foes of Russia Say Child Pornography Is Planted to Ruin Them” – New York Times/Andrew Higgins

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

“… steeled by a dozen years in the Soviet gulag, decades of sparring with the KGB. and a bout of near fatal heart disease … Bukovsky, a tireless opponent of Soviet leaders and … Putin of Russia, is not a man easily put off his stride. But he got knocked sideways when British police officers … informed him that they […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Soviet dissident had thousands of child abuse images, UK court told; Vladimir Bukovsky downloaded indecent images and films over 15-year period, Cambridge crown court hears” – The Guardian (UK)/Luke Harding

File Photo of British Parliament Building, Big Ben, Thames, adapted from image at loc.gov

“… Bukovsky, 73, is charged with 10 counts of making and possessing indecent photos and one count of possessing an indecent computer-generated graphic. He denies all charges. * * * Bukovsky has been a longstanding opponent of Soviet and Russian power. He began his struggle against the Soviet regime in the early 1960s. Soviet authorities eventually kicked him out of […]

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NEWSLINK: “Lessons From Russia: Verify Everything, Don’t Publish Rumors” – New York Times/Masha Gessen

Satellite Dishes

“… I was the editor of a monthly magazine and wanted the journalist to expand his report for my publication. ‘I made it up,’ he said breezily when I called him. That could mean several things. He could indeed have made the story up. Alternatively, he could have been lying when he said he had made it up. Maybe he […]

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Ellen Mickiewicz: “RT”

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

Subject: RT Date: Sun, 8 Jan 2017 19:59:35 -0500 From: Ellen Mickiewicz <ellen.mickiewicz@gmail.com> Ellen Mickiewicz, James R. Shepley Emeritus Professor of Public Policy and Political Science Duke University The Report from the U.S. Intelligence Community is notable for its factual mistakes and misleading conclusions. Whether misleading is deliberate or simply lack of information they could have accessed is not known. […]

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Kremlin Propaganda Effort Ever Less Effective on Russians, Surveys Show

Kremlin and River

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 8, 2016) The messages Kremlin propaganda is disseminating and the actual beliefs of Russians are increasingly diverging, except on the “sacred” issue of approval for Vladimir Putin, surveys show, an indication that his regime’s media efforts are ever less successful in shaping public attitudes, according to Igor Yakovenko. The Russian commentator […]

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NEWSLINK Financial Times: “Russia’s spat with the U.S. is not a return to the cold war. In that era, truth and facts still meant something, writes Peter Pomerantsev.”

File Photo of Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan at Table Signing Documents

“Russia and the US are at it again, involved in a dance of psychological games and information tricks. Hacking and fake news are the weapons of choice today. These are partly the products of technological change, but ideology and history play a role, too: the so-called post-truth age is shaped by decades of relations between the US and Russia. Today’s […]

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Presidential Adviser Says Russia Could Be Cut Off From Internet

File Image of Laptop Computer, Tables and Mobile Device, adapted from image at energy.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 29, 2016) Presidential Internet Adviser German Klimenko said that Russia could be entirely cut off from the global internet in an interview with RT Russian Service. When asked about a new draft law from the Ministry of Communications regulating the Russian internet, Klimenko explained that it is designed as a protective measure. “In the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian Hackers and American Hacks; The CIA that misjudged Putin for years is now sure of his motives” – Wall Street Journal

File Photo of CIA Seal on Floor

Somewhere in the Kremlin … Putin must be laughing. The Russian strongman almost certainly sought to undermine public confidence in American democracy … and as the Obama Administration leaves town it is playing into his hands. … the real story behind … reports that U.S. intelligence services have concluded that Russia intervened to assist … Trump’s presidential campaign. … attributed […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Updates Plan to Counter Cyberattacks and Foreign Influence” – New York Times

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

The Kremlin published a new plan … against what it described as stepped-up cyberattacks and ‘information-psychological’ methods by foreign intelligence agencies …. updat[ing] a similar information security doctrine put in place by … Putin in 2000. … American officials have mulled retaliating against Russia for … hacking before the presidential election …. The 16-page document sketches out … threats … […]

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NEWSLINK The New Yorker: “THE PROPAGANDA ABOUT RUSSIAN PROPAGANDA”

Satellite Dishes

“In late October, I received an e-mail from ‘The PropOrNot Team,’ which described itself as a ‘newly-formed independent team of computer scientists, statisticians, national security professionals, journalists and political activists, dedicated to identifying propaganda— particularly Russian propaganda targeting a U.S. audience.’ PropOrNot said that it had identified two hundred Web sites that ‘qualify as Russian propaganda outlets.’ The sites’ reach […]

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Russia Weaponized Social Media in U.S. Election, FireEye Says

File Image of Laptop Computer, Tables and Mobile Device, adapted from image at energy.gov

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Chris Strohm – December 1, 2016) Russia’s government didn’t just hack and leak documents from U.S. political groups during the presidential campaign: It used social media as a weapon to influence perceptions about the election, according to cybersecurity company FireEye Inc. Material stolen by Russia’s intelligence services was feverishly promoted by online personas and numerous fake […]

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How Russian Propaganda Really Works in the West

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – November 28, 2016) Until recently, the phenomenon of Russian government propaganda was only interesting to a small group of Russia experts, news junkies and counter-propaganda fundraisers. It was mainly seen as a tool for keeping Russians supportive of Vladimir Putin. No longer. Thanks to post-U.S. election blame games, and the upcoming election season […]

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Streaming Wars: The Real Fight Behind Russia’s False YouTube ‘Ban’

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 30, 2016) Internet video giant YouTube will not be forced out of Russia under a new bill regulating online streaming services, the Russian government has confirmed. “We can officially say that all talk of YouTube facing legal restrictions is simply not true,” Deputy Communications Minister Alexei Volin told the Rambler News Service on Wednesday. […]

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Ukraine blacklists over 500 films and TV series

File Photo of Reel of Film

KYIV. Nov 30 (Interfax) – The National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine has published a list of films and television series which have been banned by the Ukrainian State Film Agency from screening in 2014-2016. The list, which includes 544 audiovisual works, was published on the Council’s website on Wednesday. “In 2014-2016 the State Film Agency denied […]

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Kremlin Media Doesn’t have Long-Term or Profound Impact on Young, Surveys Show

Adapted File Photo of TV Set in Russia with Camera, Camerman, Woman on Set in Background

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 28, 2016) Surveys of university-age Russians over the last decade show that these young people quickly accept the regime’s list of enemies but almost as quickly shift when the regime’s outlets do and that these shifts have little impact on the way in which young Russians view their country’s place in […]

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In Russia’s media, censorship is silent; A new survey of 100 Russian journalists reveals their perceptions of professional challenges, objectivity and freedom.

Satellite Dishes

(opendemocracy.net – Nataliya Rostova – November 23, 2016) Nataliya Rostova is a visiting scholar at the Kennan Institute and author of the GorbyMedia project. The idea of conducting a survey of Russian journalists came to me after seeing something similar in New York magazine, which earlier this year polled 113 people working in the US media on the problems and […]

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NEWSLINK DailyBeast: “Sorry, Hillary Clinton Fans. There’s ‘Zero Evidence’ of Election Hacking.”

Multilingual Polling Place Sign from U.S. Election Polling Place

“Democrats cried hallelujah when computer scientists reportedly pressed Hillary Clinton ask for recounts. But even those experts say an election hack is beyond unlikely.”

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NEWSWATCH: “Warning Russia on Hacking Isn’t Enough” – New York Times Editorial

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

… A stronger White House response would begin with … Obama revealing more information about how the hacking was done and by whom. He could also … disclose Russian computer codes, embarrass wealthy Kremlin officials by exposing their overseas bank accounts and even disable Russian networks. … impose sanctions on Russians … responsible for the hacking or on military leaders […]

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NEWSLINK New York Times: “U.S. Officials Defend Integrity of Vote, Despite Hacking Fears”

Multilingual Polling Place Sign from U.S. Election Polling Place

“The Obama administration said … that despite Russian attempts to undermine the presidential election, it has concluded that the results ‘accurately reflect the will of the American people.’”

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Russian Communications Expert Says Kremlin Is Hacker-Proof

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 21, 2016) The Kremlin’s vital information systems are impervious to hacking, according to Sergei Plugotarenko, director of the Russian Association for Electronic Communications. In an interview with the state-run TASS news agency, Plugotarenko explained that the Kremlin’s systems are divided into separate tiers, external and internal, with the latter housing critical information which might […]

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The Hacking Must Go On

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – November 16, 2016) The U.S. election may be over, but Russia is still hacking the United States. But the goal appears to have shifted from sowing chaos to gathering intelligence — at least for the time being. According to cybersecurity experts, the November 9 attacks was carried out by the hacking group known […]

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Putin Weaponizes Democracy

Europe Map

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – November 14, 2016) [RFE/RL budget: $108.414 million (FY2016)] Don’t look now but Russia just picked up two more allies in Europe. Don’t look now, but pro-Moscow candidates just won the presidencies of Moldova and Bulgaria. Don’t look now, but Vladimir Putin appears to be on a roll. The Kremlin leader is no democrat. […]

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Russian Supreme Court Wants Fewer Extremism Prosecutions

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anastasia Kornya – November 10, 2016) The Russian authorities have stepped up their fight against extremism, convicting approximately three times as many people on such charges in recent years. The greatest increase concerns convictions on Article 282 of the Criminal Code – “incitement of hatred or enmity” – with that number rising from 149 in […]

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NEWSWATCH: “U.S. Government Hackers Ready to Hit Back If Russia Tries to Disrupt Election” – NBC

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

“U.S. military hackers have penetrated Russia’s electric grid, telecommunications networks and the Kremlin’s command systems, making them vulnerable to attack by secret American cyber weapons should the U.S. deem it necessary, according to a senior intelligence official and top-secret documents …. U.S. officials continue to express concern that Russia will use its cyber capabilities to try to disrupt next week’s […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Aims to Disrupt Other Western Elections, U.S. Officials Say; Electoral chaos in West being sowed to safeguard Putin’s hold on power, Kremlin watchers say” – Wall Street Journal/Alan Cullison

Stylized Artist's Depiction of Shadowy Figures in Dark Coats and Dark Hats, One Carrying a Briefcase

… Russian-backed hacking … that has rocked the presidential campaign may peak on Election Day, but is likely to continue next year and into 2018 as Moscow seeks to influence U.S. politics and key elections in Europe … administration officials warn. Russian meddling … may become more potent in Europe than in the U.S., White House officials and other experts […]

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Top Kremlin Official Threatens Russia’s So-Called ‘Chief Propagandist’

Sergei Kirienko file photo, adapted from State Department photo at voa.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 2, 2016) Sergey Kirienko, the new first deputy head of Russia’s Presidential Administration, met with political analysts on Tuesday, stating that the Kremlin will not welcome radical political rhetoric in the national news media, according to the Dozhd television station. Kirienko reportedly spent most of the meeting listening to the eight experts in attendance, […]

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Re: Russia Matters website and news digest

File Image of Laptop Computer, Tables and Mobile Device, adapted from image at energy.gov

Subject: Russia Matters website and news digest Date: Tue, 1 Nov 2016 From: Russia Matters <RussiaMatters@hks.harvard.edu> Russia Matters is live! www.russiamatters.org Dear Friends and Colleagues: We are pleased to introduce Russia Matters-a new website that provides top-notch analysis, user-friendly data and curated news digests on U.S. policy toward Russia, U.S.-Russian relations and Russian policies that impact vital U.S. national interests. […]

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Leonid Bershidsky: Clinton Should Stop Whining About Russian Hackers

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – October 25, 2016) Leonid Bershidsky is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru. Hillary Clinton and her team hold that “the Russians” were responsible for almost any disruptive or embarrassing hack in the U.S. Many articles about the recent […]

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NEWSLINK The Hill: “Former US ambassador to Russia goes after WikiLeaks in tweetstorm”

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul on Monday slammed WikiLeaks in a series of tweets in which he called for people to stop referring to WikiLeaks as a “news organization.” “They are a foreign agent, supported by Russia, publishing stolen data,” McFaul tweeted on Monday.

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NEWSWATCH: “Kremlin-Backed Broadcaster RT Says Loses UK Banking Services” – Reuters

File Photo of British Parliament Building, Big Ben, Thames, adapted from image at loc.gov

Russia accused Britain of political censorship … after a British state-owned bank withdrew its services from Kremlin-backed Russian broadcaster RT. … A spokeswoman for Prime Minister Theresa May distanced the British government from the row, saying it was up to NatWest who it offered services to based on its own appetite for risk. … British broadcast regulator Ofcom has ruled […]

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NEWSLINK Newsweek: “U.S. MULLING RETALIATORY CYBER ATTACK AGAINST RUSSIA: REPORT”

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

The Obama administration has asked the CIA to deliver options on possible retaliatory cyber attacks on Russia designed to “embarrass” the country’s leadership, NBC News reports. Unnamed sources who NBC says have direct knowledge of the conversations say no decisions have been made on the style and scope of any attack, but the CIA has “reams of documents that could […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Russia Calling! Investment Forum (excerpt re Putin on hacking) [Or do they?]

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

(Kremlin.ru – October 12, 2016) Vladimir Putin is taking part in the eighth Russia Calling! Investment Forum organised by VTB Capital. This year’s theme is Maintaining Responsibility, Expanding Opportunities. * * * Question: Mr Kostin, thank you. President Putin, I’d just like to build on that question, if I might. Given the difficult week that Donald Trump has just experienced, […]

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NEWSLINK New York Times: “Biden Hints at U.S. Response to Russia for Cyberattacks (excerpt) [Putin and Lavrov confess?]”

File Photo of Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin in front of U.S. Flag and Russian Flag

“… Biden was asked whether the United States was preparing to send a message to … Russian president … Putin. Days before, the American intelligence agencies and the Department of Homeland Security declared that the Russian leadership was responsible for attacks on the Democratic National Committee and the leaking of stolen emails. ‘We’re sending a message,’ Mr. Biden told Chuck […]

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Joint Statement from the Department Of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Election Security [re: Russia and Hacking]

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Department of Homeland Security – dhs.gov – Oct. 7, 2016) Release Date: October 7, 2016 For Immediate Release DHS Press Office Contact: 202-282-8010 The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations. The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Politkovskaya Ten Years On” – Sean’s Russia Blog/Sean Guillory

Anna Politkovskaya file photo

It’s been ten years since an assassin put four bullets in Anna Politkovskaya — three in her chest, one in her head, the hallmark of a contract hit. … We can recall her career and her drive to cover the horrors of #Chechnya in ways few would. … We can quote her many articles and books for their continued relevance. […]

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NEWSWATCH: “This Week Marks the 10th Anniversary of Anna Politkovskaya’s Murder; The legacy of the fearless Russian journalist’s muckraking reporting still lives on.” – The Nation

Anna Politkovskaya file photo

Katrina vanden Heuvel, Publisher and Editor of The Nation, memorializes slain Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya on the 10-year anniversary of Politkovskaya’s assassination, and considers some of the dangers and other challenges impacting Russian journalists. It is 10 years since Russia and the world lost a great and courageous journalist. The killing of Anna Politkovskaya on October 7, 2006, was horrifying […]

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NEWSLINK War on the Rocks/Joshua Foust: “CAN FANCY BEAR BE STOPPED? THE CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER OF RUSSIAN INFO OPS”

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

“Russia is engaged in an unprecedented, sophisticated attack on the American political system. Defeating it won’t be easy.”

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NEWSWATCH: “The murder that killed free media in Russia; A decade after the assassination of Anna Politkovskaya, news organisations increasingly avoid topics that could anger the Kremlin” – The Guardian (UK)/Shaun Walker

File Photo of Mourners with Photo of Anna Politkovskaya

 … In the decade since [Anna] Politkovskaya’s death, the space for independent journalism in Russia has narrowed …. Since 2006, the Committee to Protect Journalists has recorded 20 journalists’ killings, while Freedom House has counted 63 violent attacks on reporters. But for the most part, the threat of closure keeps publications in line and encourages self-censorship. … news sources have […]

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Khodorkovsky’s Group To Support Media Startups

Mikhail Khodorkovsky file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – September 29, 2016) A pro-democracy group founded by exiled Kremlin critic and former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky has launched a project to fund online media startups. Open Russia said on September 29 that the goal of the project was “to create communication channels within the part of the Russian society that considers itself independent from the government’s […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s Meddling in the U.S. Elections. How It Helps Him Back Home.” – Foreign Affairs/Gregory Feifer

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

Every four years, whenever there is a U.S. presidential election, a melancholy settles over Russia. When global fascination mounts over the selection of the free world’s next leader, Russians feel ignored. … * * * … On top of its usual peddling of influence, disinformation campaigns, and, in some cases, war, Moscow tried discreetly hacking Ukraine’s elections in 2014. Ukrainian […]

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