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UK Creating Network to Counter 'Russian Disinformation' in EU, US - Anonymous

CC0 / Pixabay / Hacking
Hacking - Sputnik International
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The UK Integrity Initiative project, engaged in information campaigns targeting Russia, is creating a branch network in the former republics of the Soviet Union and in European countries, and has also suggested to the UK government to create branches in the US, according to documents from the hacktivist group Anonymous.

According to one of the documents, the Integrity Initiative, whose stated goal is  to "track, expose and counter the increasing current of Russian malign influence and disinformation throughout the West", plans to open new clusters to disseminate information on the "growing problem from Russia" in Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Malta, Montenegro, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden, and Switzerland.

The clusters will be tasked with helping the general public to "understand better" the alleged threat coming from Russia via providing information, including through social media. Such clusters already operate in France, Lithuania, Italy, Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, Greece, Serbia, Montenegro, Moldova, Malta, and Jordan, and unite governmental officials, scientists, and representatives of the media.

The Integrity Initiative also cooperates with a range of international organisations, including the European Union and NATO, on this matter.

It also plans to expand its activities in the United States in order to "contribute to changing the attitude towards Russian malign influence and disinformation by enriching the public discourse with facts about Russian malign behaviour".

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For this purpose, the Integrity Initiative's Institute for Spacecraft will open an office in Washington, and the project will also establish centres in other major cities across the United States.

Russia has repeatedly denied all accusations of meddling in any state's internal affairs. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that Integrity Initiative's goal was to damage Russia's reputation.

UK Integrity Initiative Mentions 'EU Disinformation Unit' in Docs

The UK Integrity Initiative project mentions a "Brussels-based EU Disinformation Unit" in its documents, according to a scan that the Anonymous hacktivist group released late on 4 January.

One of the documents related to Integrity Initiative's activities in Moldova, dubbed "Moldova —suggested priorities for consideration by clusters and UK staff in light of recent and ongoing developments", suggests to "cascade" various publications "on how Moldova’s internal situation is exploited for the purpose of building Russian and Russian speaking influence in the EU" "through relevant clusters, especially Spain, Portugal, France and Italy, but also Belgium (Brussels based EU Disinformation Unit, and NATO) and Netherlands (Europol)".

In 2015, the EU's East StratCom Task Force unit was created to tackle "Russian disinformation". The task force unites communication experts from EU institutions that fund their activities for short-term projects.

Documents on Integrity Initiative’s Operations in Armenia

Hackers from the Anonymous group have published a new batch of leaked documents about the activities of the UK's state-funded Integrity Initiative project in Armenia, including a list of disloyal journalists, publications timetable, contacts' list and payment documents.

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The documents, revealed by Anonymous late on 4 December, include a timetable of activities of the Institute for Statecraft, which funds Integrity Initiative, for March-June 2016, including a list of media publications on Russia and its alleged negative role in the world. The batch also featured an article by a researcher, Eduard Abrahamyan, on the recent protests in Armenia, called "Moscow Worries Armenian ‘Velvet Revolution’ Could Lessen Its Leverage Over Yerevan".

The hackers also published an invoice for a payment of 250 pounds ($329) to this researcher, which reads that he has "briefed the audience about the ongoing dynamics of Armenia’s domestic and foreign policy".

READ MORE: Explosive Docs Released by Anonymous Look Authentic — Cyber Security Expert

Notably, the Production Timetable of the Institute for Statecraft, published by the hackers, includes "eight complaints forwarded to [UK media watchdog] Ofcom on RT's failure to ensure impartiality with a request to launch a formal investigation".

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Late on Friday, the group published documents and invoices, which it claims are evidence showing that the Integrity Initiative project carries out analysis on the activities of the UK's opposition Labour Party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn, as well as the RT broadcaster, with the use of UK taxpayer money. The documents, particularly, concern the coverage of the Salisbury poisoning incident and the situation in the Middle East, namely in Syria. The UK Foreign Office has recognised the authenticity of the documents, which were released by Anonymous last year, concerning London’s interference in EU countries’ affairs and waging an information war against Russia. The documents include reports on RT’s activities and invoices for Integrity Initiative.

One of the documents, released by Anonymous on 4 January, is a report on the coverage of the recent protests in Armenia, showing that the Integrity Initiative’s staff emphasized Russia’s alleged negative role in them. Moreover, the comments and examples of the publications include their criticism toward journalists who covered the protests from the pro-Russian point of view.

The hackers also leaked a list of "activists in Armenia that contribute to Russian interests, propagandising and promoting Russia’s official posture and intentions, while positioning themselves as ‘analysts’, ‘experts’, ‘politicians’".

On 20 December, Ofcom said that RT had breached the regulator's broadcast rules by failing to provide impartial news coverage in seven programmes aired in March and April, a decision in which RT, has expressed its disappointment, suggesting that the regulator had not taken its reasoning into account. Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of RT, noted that the watchdog had found the violations six months after UK Prime Minister Theresa May said she would "expel the Russian propaganda as she calls it".

Documents, subsequently revealed by the hackers, showed that the complaints had been written by an employee from the Institute for Statecraft, Ben Nimmo, a senior fellow at the London-based group.

READ MORE: Anonymous Hackers Expose UK Plans to Mine Sevastopol Days Before Crimea Vote

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The hacktivist group published the first batch of documents on the activities of the Integrity Initiative project, funded by the Institute for Statecraft, in November. Anonymous said that the programme, launched in 2015, was financed by the UK government, as well as NATO, Facebook and the US State Department. The hacktivist group described the programme as a "large-scale information secret service" created by London to "counteract Russian propaganda".

Anonymous also claimed that the Integrity Initiative included covert structures to interfere in the domestic affairs of several European countries such as France, Germany, Italy, Greece, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Norway, Serbia, Spain, and Montenegro.

According to the hackers, the Institute for Statecraft's programme has not been renewed since 2017 while there was no information on its employees and contact details in the public domain. The source code for its online publications allows us to assume that they have been issued automatically, according to the hackers.

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