ArchivedOctober 4 2022, 11:51 am

Russia Fields a “C Team” of Foreign Election Observers at Sham Referendums in Ukraine

The Cen­ter for Infor­ma­tion Resilience (CIR), a UK inde­pen­dent, non-prof­it social enter­prise, has report­ed on the for­eign observers behind The Russ­ian sham ref­er­en­da held in occu­pied Ukraine. Accord­ing to the CIR report, those observers appeared to be “very much the C‑team of elec­tion observers”:

Octo­ber 3, 2022 In the hand­ful of days between the announce­ment of the ref­er­en­dums and the com­mence­ment of vot­ing on 23 Sep­tem­ber, at least sev­er­al dozen cit­i­zens of for­eign coun­tries appear to have been brought into the occu­pied ter­ri­to­ries from Moscow and else­where. It is unclear exact­ly how many, as the counts of “for­eign observers” released by the occu­pa­tion admin­is­tra­tions include sig­nif­i­cant num­bers of Russ­ian politi­cians and oth­er Russ­ian observers. A forth­com­ing report from CIR’s ‘Life Under Occu­pa­tion’ series will pro­vide a more com­pre­hen­sive pic­ture of those col­lab­o­ra­tors and enablers of the occu­pa­tion sent from Rus­sia to occu­pied areas, specif­i­cal­ly, to the Kher­son region. On their arrival, these observers were fet­ed by the occu­pa­tion admin­is­tra­tion. In some cas­es, they were per­son­al­ly chap­er­oned around polling sta­tions by lead­ers of the occu­pa­tion and were trot­ted out for Russ­ian state media to pro­nounce how fair­ly and trans­par­ent­ly the ref­er­en­dums were being run. So who exact­ly were these peo­ple? The short answer appears to be, any­one who would come. It appears like­ly that the sud­den deci­sion to hold the ref­er­en­dums prompt­ed a mad scram­ble through the prover­bial Rolodex­es of past con­tacts to find peo­ple will­ing to get on a plane the fol­low­ing day, in some cas­es lit­er­al­ly. There is a notable absence of for­eign politi­cians, active diplo­mats or offi­cials, or sig­nif­i­cant pub­lic fig­ures. This appears to be very much the C‑team of elec­tion observers, even com­pared to the cal­i­bre of observers at pre­vi­ous Russ­ian elections.

Read the full report here.

The CIR goes on to divide the observers into four categories:

  • Far-right and far-left Euro­pean polit­i­cal figures
  • Pro-Russ­ian blog­gers, pub­lic com­men­ta­tors, social media fig­ures, and jour­nal­ists with a his­to­ry of work­ing for Russ­ian media
  • For­mer and fringe diplo­mat­ic fig­ures and failed politicians
  • African Nation­al Con­gress Youth League

One notable fig­ure is Son­ja Van den Ende, a Dutch for­mer mem­ber of the Social­ist Par­ty and blog­ger who describes her­self as an “inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ist.” An April 2022 Dutch media report pro­vides a taste of Van den Ende’s “report­ing.”

Among the “self-appoint­ed” jour­nal­ists from unspec­i­fied media out­lets, was Son­ja van der Ende, for­mer mem­ber of the Social­ist Par­ty and blog­ger, whose Face­book page has 4,800 fol­low­ers. “It turned out that we could go to Ukraine under the pro­tec­tion of the Russ­ian army to show the truth about the crimes com­mit­ted by the Ukraini­ans dur­ing the war, which they had pro­voked,” van der Ende told Alge­meen Dag­blad. Pre­vi­ous­ly, she was “uncov­er­ing the truth” about the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic on her blog, where she describes a secret glob­al gov­ern­ment, West­ern plans to bring Rus­sia to its knees, and the inef­fec­tive­ness of the coro­n­avirus vac­cine. In her opin­ion, the Bucha mas­sacre was faked and there was no attack on the hos­pi­tal in Mar­i­upol. The true crime is being com­mit­ted against the Russ­ian-speak­ing peo­ple of Ukraine.

Among her myr­i­ad pro­pa­gan­da efforts on behalf of Rus­sia was atten­dance at a press con­fer­ence ear­li­er this month in the stu­dio of Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da out­lets RIA Novosti and Sput­nik, where she tweet­ed that she and every­body else on the pan­el were on “a kill list of the secret ser­vice of Ukraine set up by the CIA and NATO. There are also chil­dren on this list.”


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