The Russia watchRussia’s information warfare dominance; interference goes beyond spying; Russia’s Balkan subversion, and more

Published 11 October 2018

·  How the U.K.’s fake news inquiry waged a war on disinformation

·  Russian interference goes beyond spying to the very heart of Britain

·  U.S. spycraft and stealthy diplomacy expose Russian subversion in a key Balkans vote

·  Military leaders are starting to freak out over Russia’s information warfare dominance

·  Fake viral ‘manspreading’ video points to new tactic in Russian disinformation

·  Campaign to boycott Nike after Colin Kaepernick advert was heightened by Russian-run social media accounts

·  Russian whistleblower assassinated after uncovering $200 billion dirty-money scandal

·  Viral video of Russian woman bleaching manspreaders was anti-feminist propaganda

·  Former MI6 chief warns “violent” Russia could strike deadly attack

·  Putin denials mask dismay at “laughable” spy shortcomings abroad

How the U.K.’s fake news inquiry waged a war on disinformation (Gian Volpicelli, Wired)
The DCMS Committee’s upcoming report, which has been led by Damian Collins, will answer one question: was democracy hacked?

Russian interference goes beyond spying to the very heart of Britain (Nick Cohen, Guardian)
Agents have been named. Now it’s time to expose financial and political misdeeds

U.S. spycraft and stealthy diplomacy expose Russian subversion in a key Balkans vote (Helene Cooper and Eric Schmitt, New York Times)
For years, Ivan Savvidis has been the Kremlin’s man in Greece.
A Greek-Russian billionaire, a former member of the Russian Duma and the owner of a professional Greek soccer team, Mr. Savvidis has moved seamlessly between the sporting worlds of both countries. He has a finger in seemingly every facet of life in Thessaloniki, the Greek port city where he lives, and is a well-known player in the often feuding world of Greek and Russian oligarchs.
All of which has made him of intense interest to American spy agencies.
United States officials say they intercepted communications in June showing that Mr. Savvidis was working as Russia’s conduit to undermine an agreement between Greece and Macedonia that would have paved the way for Macedonia to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Greece has long objected to Macedonia’s entry into NATO. Moscow, which sees the expanding alliance as a major threat on its border, was determined to defeat a referendum on the deal.

Military leaders are starting to freak out over Russia’s information warfare dominance(Paul Szoldra. Task and Purpose)
Russia has become so good at information warfare that American and allied military leaders are (rightfully) starting to freak out about it.
“The Russians are really good at this. Better than us,” UK Army Maj. Gen. Felix Gedney said at the AUSA Conference, according to Defense One. “We saw a very clever, assiduous information campaign aimed at discrediting the campaign of the coalition [in Iraq and Syria]. And I would argue [that] in many of our nation’s capitals, we didn’t realize we were being played.”
As was the case during the 2016 election, Russia is sometimes better at stoking division among ordinary Americans than your uncle at Thanksgiving dinner — through the coordinated use of bot networks, fake social media profiles, and production of misleading or partisan content that gets widely shared.
Moscow has also carried out similar campaigns in Ukraine, Georgia, and elsewhere. Its efforts at influence can shape perceptions, while also having surprising effects on the battlefield.

Fake viral ‘manspreading’ video points to new tactic in Russian disinformation (Casey Michel, ThinkProgress)
After the clicks comes the rage.

Campaign to boycott Nike after Colin Kaepernick advert was heightened by Russian-run social media accounts (Ian Herbert, Daily Mail)
The campaign to boycott Nike for using Colin Kaepernick as the face of its latest ‘Just Do It’ campaign was stoked by Russian-run social media accounts, in a deliberate attempt to create discord and build followers, analysts have established.
Graphika, the leading online network research firm which has testified before the US Senate on the social media activity of Russian trolls, has traced back thousands of anti-Kaepernick tweets to the notorious St Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) accounts, which has been indicted in the US for deliberate attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election.
The Kaepernick outcry was initially fuelled by pro-Donald Trump accounts, Graphika established. But the Russian media bot accounts then capitalised up on the antagonism and amplified it.

Russian whistleblower assassinated after uncovering $200 billion dirty-money scandal (Nico Hines, Daily Beast)
Andrei Kozlov was gunned down in 2006, weeks after trying to shutter the world’s biggest money-laundering scam—one reportedly used by Putin’s family and the FSB.

Viral video of Russian woman bleaching manspreaders was anti-feminist propaganda (Megan Farokhmanesh, The Verge)
If you got angry at The Feminists, congrats, you fell for it

Former MI6 chief warns “violent” Russia could strike deadly attack (Alessandra Scotto di Santolo, Express)
Former head of MI6 Sir Richard Dearlove warned Russia should not be underestimated following the “incompetent” Salisbury nerve agent attack as the rogue country’s political DNA lies in violent assassinations.

Putin denials mask dismay at “laughable” spy shortcomings abroad (Henry Meyer and Irina Reznik, Bloomberg)
Beneath President Vladimir Putin’s angry denials that Russian spies were involved in attempted murder and hacking operations abroad, there’s palpable unease at the catalog of sometimes laughable mishaps by his now-infamous GRU military-intelligence service.