Context

News in the section ‘Context’ are not fakes. We publish them in order to provide you with a deeper understanding of the techniques and methods used by the Russian government in its information war.

Debunked: Russian sanctions are not sinking the Latvian economy

Mārtiņš Kaprāns, for CEPA Pro-Kremlin media outlets in Latvia continue to spread the narrative that Moscow’s ban on agricultural and maritime imports from the European Union, Australia, the United States, and other countries in retaliation against Western sanctions for Russia’s 2014 invasion of Crimea has had a “devastating” impact on the Latvian economy. On 20 October, the Russian newspaper Izvestia published an interview with former Latvian Foreign Minister Janis Jurkans, an outspoken supporter of

Russia Hackers Had Targets Worldwide, Beyond US Election

By VOA Associated Press The hackers who upended the U.S. presidential election had ambitions well beyond Hillary Clinton’s campaign, targeting the emails of Ukrainian officers, Russian opposition figures, U.S. defense contractors and thousands of others of interest to the Kremlin, according to a previously unpublished digital hit list obtained by The Associated Press. The list provides the most detailed forensic evidence yet of the close alignment between the hackers and

Italian Students Learn ‘Ten Commandments’ for Spotting Fake News

By Codastory Italian high school students are being taught how to spot fake news stories and conspiracy theories, ahead of parliamentary elections due next year. Among the lessons being introduced for at least 8,000 high schools will be a kind of Ten Commandments on how to treat online content, according to The New York Times. Examples include: Thou shalt not share unverified news; thou shall ask for sources and evidence;

Fake News Tries to Link Austria’s Chancellor-to-Be and Philanthropist George Soros

By Filip Stojanovski, for Global Voices Editor’s note: Global Voices is a grantee of Open Society Foundations. Days after Sebastian Kurz’s party won the most votes in Austria’s elections, making him chancellor designate, a known fake news purveyor spread false information that Kurz’s first order of business was to expel Open Society Foundations, the philanthropic organization founded by Hungarian-American magnate George Soros, from the country. The article, published on October 19 by

Law Tightening Internet Restrictions Comes Into Force In Russia

By RFE/RL A controversial law tightening restrictions on the Internet comes in force in Russia on November 1, months ahead of a March 2018 election that is widely expected to hand President Vladimir Putin a new six-year term. The law signed by Putin on July 29 prohibits the use of Internet proxy services including virtual private networks (VPNs). The law was promoted by lawmakers who said it was needed to

Kremlin Watch Briefing. October 31

For those seeking to understand the state of play in the Czech Republic, we have prepared a brief report published by the Warsaw Institute. The goal of the report is to identify the main channels of the Kremlin’s hostile influence, their effectiveness, and the most relevant responses from the government and the civil society. In his article for New Eastern Europe, Jakub Janda argues that the Kremlin was not actively

Myth busted: Estonia’s “impossible” citizenship

By Urve Eslas, for CEPA Estonia’s ethnic Russians can’t afford to become Estonian citizens; it’s too expensive, reports the German-language channel of Russian state-funded television network RT. In late October, RT aired a video filmed in Estonia claiming that the Estonian government discriminates against Estonian Russians by making the process of gaining citizenship very difficult and costly for ordinary people. Yet as a study shows, non-citizens do not apply for citizenship because not having

Putin Unveils First National Monument to Victims of Soviet Repressions

By Codastory In response to President Vladimir Putin’s unveiling on Monday of Moscow’s first national monument to victims of Soviet repression, 40 former Soviet political prisoners signed an open letter condemning the ceremony as “untimely and cynical.” “A memorial is a tribute to the past, but political repression in Russia is not only continuing but growing,” said the letter signed by Soviet-era dissidents and critics of the Kremlin who accused Putin of hypocrisy.

Facebook says 126 million people in the U.S. may have seen posts produced by Russian-government-backed agents

By Tony Romm and Kurt Wagner, for Recode Facebook, Google and Twitter plan to tell congressional investigators this week that the scope of Russia’s campaign to spread disinformation on their sites — and to potentially disrupt the 2016 U.S. presidential race — is much broader than the companies initially reported. At Facebook, roughly 126 million users in the United States may have seen posts, stories or other content created by

Russian ‘Donetsk republic’ propagandist seized – or killed – in Donbas after speaking too freely

By Halya Coynash, for Human Rights in Ukraine While media reports of Roman Manekin’s brutal murder remain unconfirmed, there seems no doubt that the prominent Russian journalist and propagandist for the so-called ‘Donetsk people’s republic’ [DPR] was taken prisoner shortly after strong criticism of at least one of the ‘DPR’ leaders. There are also reports that the reason for his disappearance may lie in his denial of the official militant line on

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