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Report Highlights Russian “Black PR” Tactics Against Business Rivals In The UK

March 17th, 2021 15:01

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.