@McFaul: “This is important. Russia has a serious, sophisticated disinformation strategy. We ignore it at our peril. “

Ambassador Mike McFaul file photo

[Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, @McFaul at twitter.com/mcfaul, tweets about #Russia and disinformation: embedded tweet should load below; tweet also is available at twitter.com/McFaul/status/843706148733693953] This is important. Russia has a serious, sophisticated disinformation strategy. We ignore it at our peril. https://t.co/eq15A6f6HG — Michael McFaul (@McFaul) March 20, 2017

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NEWSLINK: “WEAPONIZING COMEDY” – Irrussianality/Paul Robinson

Satellite Dishes

“… The basic conclusion of the report is that in Russia, ‘the entire “official humour industry” … is directly Kremlin-controlled’. Working for the Kremlin, Russian comedians use humour to reduce their compatriots’ stress and make them feel more comfortable and thus more accepting of the political system. They provide audiences with a positive sense of social identity, which is contrasted […]

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NEWSLINK: “Key Democratic Officials Now Warning Base Not to Expect Evidence of Trump/Russia Collusion” – The Intercept/Glenn Greenwald

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

“… The principal problem for Democrats is that so many media figures and online charlatans are personally benefiting from feeding the base increasingly unhinged, fact-free conspiracies … there are now millions of partisan soldiers absolutely convinced of a Trump/Russia conspiracy for which, at least as of now, there is no evidence. And they are all waiting for the day, which they […]

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Almost Half of Russians Say They Can’t Distinguish Truth from Lies in Moscow Media

Satellite Dishes

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, March 15, 2017) Almost half of Russians – 46 percent – say that they often cannot distinguish “false information from truth” in media reports, while a similar percentage – 46 percent say that they can, numbers that are relatively constant across groups of different ages and social classes, according to Aleksey Levinson […]

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Shevtsova on 15 Paradoxes of Putin’s Russia

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, March 11, 2107) Liliya Shevtsova, a Moscow-based analyst for the Brookings Institution, has once again provided a useful guide to some of the terminology that #Russians and analysts of #Russia often use without reflecting on the paradoxical quality of much of it and the ways in which that quality undermines their utility. […]

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NEWSLINK: “U.S. Officials Won’t Say if a New Anti–Russia Propaganda Project Is Targeting Americans The newly created Global Engagement Center’s “focus and intent” is foreign audiences, but officials won’t rule out propagandizing Americans and funding American journalists.” – The Nation/Adam H. Johnson

Satellite Dishes

“On the day before Christmas Eve last year, President Obama signed the annual National Defense Authorization Act that included, in part, a $160 million revamping of the “Global Engagement Center” to combat what officials claimed was a uptick in Russian propaganda. Originally created in March of last year for anti-ISIL messaging, the Global Engagement Center distributes ‘counter’ propaganda, social media messaging and original journalistic […]

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NEWSLINK: “Fareed Zakaria on the most powerful man in the world” – CNN

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

“… Zakaria’s documentary on … Putin, ‘The Most Powerful Man in the World,’ [airs] … Monday at 9 p.m. ET. … CNN Politics sat down to talk with Zakaria about that enmity and other aspects of Putin’s worldview. An edited version of the conversation follows. …”

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NEWSLINK: “THE DIRTY SECRET BEHIND THE JEFF SESSIONS MESS; It may not be as sinister as it seems” – Vanity Fair/T.A. FRANK

American Flag and Partial View of U.S. Capitol Dome, adapted from image at aoc.gov

“… With most Russia-related stories these days, especially ones in The New York Times and The Washington Post, the best initial reaction is heavy skepticism. That way you aren’t surprised when embarrassing editorial disclaimers appear above stories that Russia hacked a Vermont utility or spread ‘fake news’ via dozens of U.S. websites from Drudge to Truthdig … “

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NEWSLINK: “How the News is Reported in Russia” – The School of Russian and Eurasian Studies/Andrei Nesterov

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

“According to a 2016 poll by the independent Levada Center, 80% of Russians view television as their primary source of news. The same Levada poll, however, shows that only 41% trust the news as an objective source of information. The broadcasts sampled here are from Russia’s most-watched channels: First Channel and Russia Channel. …”

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NEWSLINK: “Red Scare” [re: New Yorker story] – Economic Principles/David Warsh

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

“… a 13,000-word article in The New Yorker…. exemplified all the preconceptions typical of what I have come to think of as reporters of the Generation of ’91. Nothing in the article – Active Measures: What lay behind Russia’s interference in the 2016 election – and what lies ahead? – was quite as punchy as the art that accompanied it. […]

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Moscow Court Overturns Fine for Independent Russian News Outlet RBC

Igor Sechin file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 1, 2017) A Moscow court has overturned the decision to fine independent Russian news outlet RBC for libelling oligarch and Putin ally Igor Sechin. An RBC report published in April 2016 claimed that Sechin, the CEO of Russian oil giant Rosneft, had asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to block the company’s minority stakeholder from […]

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The Kremlin Reportedly Commissioned a Report on Russian State TV, and the Results Were Oof

Kremlin and River

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Kevin Rothrock – February 28, 2017) The Putin administration commissioned an independent expert analysis of Russian network television, according to the news site Znak.com. The study was reportedly prepared in particular for Sergei Kiriyenko, the president’s first deputy chief of staff. Znak.com says a private company was hired to “make sense of the reality depicted […]

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NEWSLINK: “Why We Must Oppose the Kremlin-Baiting Against Trump; The Russia-connected allegations have created an atmosphere of hysteria amounting to McCarthyism” – The Nation/Stephen F. Cohen

Satellite Dishes

“The bipartisan, nearly full-political-spectrum tsunami of factually unverified allegations that President Trump has been seditiously ‘compromised’ by the Kremlin, with scarcely any nonpartisan pushback from influential political or media sources, is deeply alarming. Begun by the Clinton campaign in mid-2016, and exemplified now by New York Times columnists (who write of a ‘Trump-Putin regime’ in Washington), strident MSNBC hosts, and […]

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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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