On July 14, around 1,000 people took to the streets of Moscow demanding the government to assist opposition candidates to run in elections to the Russian capital’s parliament.
Opposition politicians cried foul after Moscow’s election commission said most of their sponsored candidates had failed to secure the required number of signatures to participate in the election as candidates.
The commission has yet to officially announce the list of legitimate candidates for the 8 September vote to Moscow’s 45-seat parliament. So, opposition politicians decided to demand the government to break the law and allow them to participate in the election despite their inability to collect the needed signatures.
Opposition politicians Ilya Yashin, Lyubov Sobol and Ivan Zhdanov [they were among the candidates that failed to collect the signatures] became the main organizers of the rally. They also claim that the comission’s conclusion that many of their signatures were rigged was an “absolute fraud”.
The opposition organized an improvised march to the Moscow city mayor office and then to the headquarters of the election commission. The participants, mostly representatives of the so-called creative community and well-paid office workers, shouted anti-government and anti-Putin slogans, urging the authorities to register their candidates.
At some moment, the opposition briefly clashed with police and at least 38 people, including Ilya Yashin, Lyubov Sobol and Ivan Zhdanov. These persons were the most active instigators of the local unrest.
The rally was widely backed by multiple Russian pro-opposition and liberal media outlets, including those based outside Russia. Despite this, the number of participants in the megacity was no more than 1,000 people.
Ilya Yashin is a Russian liberal politician and ‘activist. He does have hard-core pro-liberal and pro-Western views and is mostly known for his participation in various anti-government rallies and media campaigns. On September 10, 2017, Yashin was elected a municipal deputy of the Krasnoselsky district of Moscow.
Lyubov Sobol is another Russian public figure with strong pro-Western and anti-government views. She’s a member of the so-called Anti-Corruption Foundation, led by the head of the so-called ‘non-system opposition’ [the part of the opposition that delcare that its aim is to gain power by non-constitutional means because ‘democracy’ does not work in Russia] Aleksey Navalny.
Ivan Zhdanov is one more worker of the Anti-Corruption Foundation and a person with hardcore anti-government views.
Anti-government rallies and campaigns that recently targeted several Russian cities do not seem to be very popular if one estimates the number of people that participate in them. They mostly involve a small anti-government part of the Russian society that do not link their future life with Russia as the state. However, they are well-coordinated and do have an active backging from pro-Western Russian-language media outlets. English-language mainstream media outlets also cover them time to time to promote the narrative that ‘the Russian population is against the Putin regime’.
On July 13, Russian state media reported citing a military diplomatic source that UK and US intelligence services are in an active phase of the anti-Russian campaign aiming to discredit individuals from the leadership of the Defence Ministry and the inner circle of Russian Ppresident Vladimir Putin.
The report said that the disinformation will wind up in the media controlled by foundations established by influential financiers such as George Soros and William Browder. The campaign will also involve media outlets funded by US authorities, naming Radio Freedom and Current Time among others.
The interesting fact is that the very same group of media outlets is currently involved in providing support to the Russian ‘non-system opposition’ and other group of ‘activists’ mostly focused on blaming and shaming the Russian government under various pretexts. Most of these media outlets are directly or indirectly funded by the US government or entities and organizations linked with the Washington establishment. At the same time, to justify their anti-government stance, at least a part of them (like Meduza or The Bell) claims that they are the only ‘independent media’ in Russia. It remains unclear how it’s possible to be ‘independent’ when you are funded by some state agency.
As to reports and so-called open source investigations designed to fuel various anti-Russian campaigns inside Russia or on the international scene, most of them do have similar structure and are created under same guidelines.
1. Authors choose a topic (or a group of topics), which is actual in the current media landscape and linked to the final purpose of the investigation.
2. The chosen topic has to include something related to well-known corporations, organizations, state agencies or bodies, or public figures and politicians. The importance and size of these structures (as well as the specific of actions of any major public figure or politician) mean that they do have a complicated legal structure and multiple links inside and outside themselves.
3. Authors come with a hypothesis that some organization or a person inside some organization is involved in something improprieties. This could be some department inside the organization or a person somehow linked to its leadership. Obviously, 100% of the modern organizations can be chosen using this concept.
4. Authors make axiomatical assertions. For example, A has similarities with B, C = D, E is a part of W and further. Around 80% of these assertions could be considered as more or less realistic. Nonetheless, up to 20% of them are knowingly fraudulent. This part of the analysis creates the basis for the rest of the fake investigation.
5. In the next part of the ‘investigation’, authors demonstrate multiple organic links between elements and levels of the targeted system. Often, a major part of them is taken from open sources. The rest is completely made up or claimed to be received from some ‘intelligence sources’ or ‘whistleblowers’.
This is the biggest and most awkwardly shaped part of the ‘investigation’. It often includes some additional sections, quotes multiple facts, names, details and explanations that are not linked to the investigation itself. These additional details are often linked to the real situation, but they do have no importance for the key hypothesis of the ‘investigation’.
The size and complicated structure of this part are needed to logically disorientate the reader. The article creates the emotional state that instigate non-critical approach towards the provided data, claims and speculations.
6. Authors move to conclusions.
- Sometimes, the conclusions are made on the basis of the previous parts and a formal logic. Nonetheless, these conclusions cannot be true because they are based on up to 20% of the fake data, purportedly included in the ‘investigation’.
- Another option is to include a made up narrative in the conclusion. Often this narrative is not based on the ‘data’ provided in the ‘investigation’ and is linked to it only by design.
This is a short description of the general model of fake OSINT investigations. This model is universal and has been actively employed by various entities over the past years. Experts think that at least a part of the data created through these guidelines is created by special software solutions. In this event, public ‘authors’ of these ‘investigations’ are mostly involved as editors and writers of ‘analytical conclusions and introductions’.
An example of the widely-known software solution of this kind is Palantir. Its software solutions are employed by various state and commercial bodies like, the United States Intelligence Community (USIC) the United States Department of Defense, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board and others.
If one wants to get a critical look at fake OSINT investigations of this kind, it’s needed to make the following steps:
- The ‘investigation’ should be divided into hierarchical and logical blocs in the framework of the provided model (or any other model employed by the reader);
- The data provided in these blocs should be critically fact-checked and analyzed. Links and logical conclusions used to link these blocs should be re-checked;
- The provided conclusions should be critically analyzed and re-checked in the framework of the chosen model;
- During the critical analysis of the ‘investigation’, it’s important to know the difference between expert assumptions and groundless axiomatical assertions (like A = B).
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