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Russia Uses Pandora Papers To Discredit Democratic Governments And Push Conspiracies

October 21st, 2021 13:12

The Brook­ings Insti­tu­tion, a US think tank, has pub­lished a report exam­in­ing how Russia’s infor­ma­tion appa­ra­tus is cov­er­ing the Pan­do­ra Papers, a mas­sive leak of data on off­shore finance. The report argues that Rus­sia has used the leaks to dis­cred­it demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­ern­ments and push con­spir­a­cies about the leak’s ori­gins. Accord­ing to the Brook­ings report:

Octo­ber 8, 2021 Also since Sun­day, Russ­ian state media have been ampli­fy­ing some of the project’s most trou­bling find­ings — includ­ing the Unit­ed States’ emer­gence as a lead­ing des­ti­na­tion for shel­ter­ing dark mon­ey — while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly traf­fick­ing in con­spir­a­cies about the ori­gin of the leaks. State-con­trolled media have repeat­ed­ly boost­ed skep­ti­cism over the absence of U.S. offi­cials in the doc­u­ments, sug­gest­ing that West­ern lead­ers might have been “screened out” from the data and that “recur­ring pecu­liar­i­ties” point to “Washington’s hand behind” the dis­clo­sures. In some cas­es, state-con­trolled media out­lets have gone as far as to pro­mote the idea that the rev­e­la­tions are a “ polit­i­cal ploy” and the work of West­ern intel­li­gence agen­cies, includ­ing the Cen­tral Intel­li­gence Agency. In its efforts to use the rev­e­la­tions as a means to dis­cred­it demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­ern­ments, Moscow has also been high­light­ing details of wrong­do­ing by Latin Amer­i­can heads of state, includ­ing the pres­i­dents of Ecuador, Chile, and the Domini­can Repub­lic and the vice pres­i­dent of Colom­bia, among oth­ers. This focus on Latin Amer­i­ca is in part because more than 90 of the more than 330 politi­cians and pub­lic offi­cials iden­ti­fied in the data are from the region. But it also belies a focus on reach­ing a part of the world where Rus­sia has fre­quent­ly sought to advance its geopo­lit­i­cal inter­ests, includ­ing, in recent months, using con­cert­ed infor­ma­tion manip­u­la­tion campaigns. […]

The Kremlin’s response high­lights impor­tant facets of its evolv­ing infor­ma­tion strat­e­gy, which includes using West­ern alt-media out­lets and influ­encers as a vec­tor for ped­dling con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries that cast doubt on offi­cial ver­sions of polit­i­cal events — in part to deflect blame and in part to depress trust in insti­tu­tions with­in tar­get soci­eties. It also demon­strates an empha­sis on ampli­fy­ing fac­tu­al infor­ma­tion to pro­mote nar­ra­tives that den­i­grate demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­ern­ments, using a mas­sive state-con­trolled online media apparatus.

Read the rest here.

Inde­pen­dent Russ­ian media report­ed last week that off­shore assets belong­ing to Russ­ian offi­cials and top exec­u­tives at state-owned com­pa­nies fea­tured promi­nent­ly in the Pan­do­ra Papers, argu­ing that the leaks and Russia’s response to it are evi­dence of the hypocrisy of the Russ­ian elite. Accord­ing to a The Bell report:

Octo­ber 11, 2021 The Pan­do­ra Papers are just the lat­est evi­dence of the hypocrisy of the Russ­ian elite, which attacks media orga­ni­za­tions, NGOs and indi­vid­u­als over alle­ga­tions of inter­na­tion­al fund­ing, while tak­ing full advan­tage of off­shore finance. It’s unlike­ly to be a coin­ci­dence that last week also saw three more orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing inves­tiga­tive out­let Belling­cat and nine indi­vid­ual jour­nal­ists, added to Russia’s list of so-called ‘for­eign agents’.

Read the rest here.