The Henry Jackson Society, a UK think tank, has published a report on Russian disinformation tactics in the UK, detailing how Russia uses “black PR” tactics to besmirch business or political rivals in Russia and the UK. “Black PR” is described in the report as follows:
NOvember 2020 ‘Black PR’ (chernyi piar) is a catch-all term that refers to a range of practices that seek to damage and discredit the reputations of individuals and entities. The practices blur the division between legal, semi-legal, and illegal, and are used by state, quasi-state, and non-state actors. These practices include: kompromat (comprising material); zakazukhaor zakazyne stat’I (prepaid publications); dvoiniki (the process by which individuals with the same or similar names to an election rival register as candidates in order to confuse voters).
Read the full report here.
The report highlights five case studies of black PR used by Russian actors showing how it appears in the West through the Kremlin’s disinformation and misinformation campaigns and as part of its ‘information laundering’ process. Russian black PR has appeared in newspapers, television, billboards, and social media, as well as in due diligence reports, corporate intelligence investigations, litigation, arbitration, and court submissions, including some Russian commercial disputes that are heard before London’s courts each year.
Finally, the report proposes several recommendations to reduce the circulation of black PR outside Russia:
- Corporate and business intelligence firms should conduct far more rigorous searches when producing due diligence reports on individuals and companies.
- Collators of journalistic articles and legal documents should have clearer complaint procedures.
- Platforms should remove accounts that participate in the creation and circulation of black PR in Russia.
- In commercial disputes, courts should subject claims made by and about Russian individuals and entities to greater scrutiny.
- The UK should adopt far-reaching and wide-ranging ‘foreign agent registration’ legislation.
- The International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO) should adopt a document on black PR.
In March, the Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) reported on a NATO study identifying several politicians, journalists, and media outlets in Germany used by Russia for its information laundering processes.