Disinfo: No evidence of Russian meddling in 2016 US presidential election

Summary

In 2016, the US pushed claims that Moscow had “meddled” in the nation’s presidential elections, alleging that “Russian hackers” broke into the Democratic National Committee’s servers. Additionally, US President Donald Trump was later accused of “collusion” with Russia – an allegation later probed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. However, the latter’s report said that insufficient evidence was found to support the claims. Russia, for its part, vehemently denied any interference in the US elections, calling the accusations part of the “domestic political struggle”.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative denying Moscow's interference in the 2016 US presidential election. The message appeared in an article covering the US 2020 elections. Like multiple earlier stories made by pro-Kremlin outlets regarding the 2016 US election, the present report muddles the crucial distinction between: a) interference, b) collusion, and c) conspiracy. Russia's interference in the 2016 US presidential election is a well-documented fact. By the time the Mueller report was published, Russian meddling in the 2016 poll had been established by the US intelligence community. The Mueller report itself concluded that Moscow had carried out this effort "in sweeping and systematic fashion" (p. 1). On the other hand, collusionis "not a specific offense or theory of liability found in the United States Code, nor is it a term of art in [US] federal criminal law," (p. 2) and therefore gathering evidence of it fell outside the scope of the Special Counsel investigation. The aim of the probe was not merely to ascertain contacts between the Trump Campaign and Russia-linked individuals during the election period, but to establish whether these interactions were deliberate enough on the part of Trump Campaign officials to sustain charges of conspiracy(ibid).

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 206
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 18/07/2020
  • Outlet language(s) English
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: US, Russia
  • Keywords: US Presidential Election 2020, election meddling, Robert Mueller, Democratic Party (US), Donald Trump
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The West is using the “colour revolution” model in China

Today, the collective West is trying to overthrow China according to the model of the “colour” revolutions it used to do in non-obedient countries. It can be said with confidence that the mass anti-government protests that started in Hong Kong in 2019 did not come from a vacuum, but were supported by Western-funded NGOs.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative claiming that Hong Kong protests are supported and funded by the US and/or by other Western states. The pro-Kremlin media frequently use disinformation narratives about popular protests allegedly incited and funded by the US around the world, including colour revolutions in post-Soviet states, the “Arab Spring” revolts, Euromaidan in Ukraine, protests in Catalonia and others. There is no evidence that protests in Hong Kong are funded and organised by the US or other Western governments. The protests in Hong Kong started in June 2019 when hundreds of thousands of people protested against a legislative proposal that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China. The protests continued for months, as they morphed into a battle over Beijing’s deepening control of the city. Protesters demanded electoral reforms and an independent investigation into police violence. Chinese state-run media sought to discredit the protesters, calling their actions "terrorism", and to spread disinformation. Recently, China's parliament approved a controversial Hong Kong national security law that threatens to limit freedoms in the semi-autonomous state. The move will bypass Hong Kong's internal legislature to punish acts that subvert state power. See earlier disinformation cases claiming that the Hong Kong protests are the West’s revenge on China for not waging war against Russia, that the U.S. uses all colour revolution technologies in Hong Kong to destabilize China, and that Britain and US are organising the protests in Hong Kong.

MH17 crashed because of a terrorist attack on board

Photographs from the scene of the tragedy confirm doubts about the (official) version of the destruction of the plane by a BUK air defence missile system and confirm the version of a terrorist attack onboard the aircraft. As evidence of this state of affairs, the aviation expert drew attention to the fact that no shrapnel wounds were found on the fragments of the pilot’s body, which was located closer to the alleged explosion of the rocket. In addition, there are other things which confirm the version of an explosion on board MH17.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the MH17 crash, aiming to undermine the Joint International Investigation and subsequent criminal trial. Three years ago, this same 'aviation expert', Yuriy Antipov, claimed that MH-17 crashed because of an explosion on board. He claimed that a bomb was planted on the plane in the Netherlands. Also, in 2017, Antipov said that a BUK missile system, shown on videos by the Investigation Team (JIT), was brought there by Ukrainian forces. A special team, known as the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), was established to conduct the criminal investigation into the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in 2014. The team comprises officials from the Dutch Public Prosecution Service and the Dutch police, along with police and criminal justice authorities from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine. The criminal investigation was obliged to meet the standards set for an investigation in the Netherlands and other participating countries. This means that the JIT has agreed upon the rules and how the evidence should be collected in other countries. The cooperation in the JIT has made it possible for Dutch and Australian police officers to work on Ukrainian territory, together with Ukrainian investigating officers. In order to ascertain the cause of the crash, the JIT investigated all human remains, personal belongings and wreckage of the aircraft. In addition, they sought, and heard from, witnesses and experts, analysed radar and satellite images, assessed large amounts of telecom data such as intercepted telephone conversations and analysed big data. Read more about the investigation here. Based on the investigation, the JIT concluded that flight MH17 was shot down on 17 July 2014 by a missile of the 9M38 series, launched by a BUK-TELAR, from farmland in the vicinity of Pervomaiskiy. At that time, the area was controlled by pro-Russian fighters. The BUK-TELAR was brought in from the territory of the Russian Federation and subsequently, after having shot down flight MH17, was taken back to the Russian Federation minus one missile. The public hearing started on 9 March 2020 in the Netherlands. You can see other examples of pro-Kremlin disinformation on the MH17 case in our database, such as claims that crash of MH17 was triggered by an explosion on board; that the plane was not downed by a BUK missile, but rather by a Ukrainian fighter; that the JIT tampered with the evidence; that the trial in The Hague is not justice but information warfare; or that it is a US provocation against Russia.

MH17 crash was a Ukrainian provocation

On 17 July 2014, as a result of a monstrous provocation by the Ukrainian authorities, the Malaysian Boeing crashed. For the sixth year now, the politically biased investigation has been going on, and it just tailors the case materials under the false version announced in the first two hours after the catastrophe. We see how Kyiv is trying in every possible way not to take responsibility and puts it on the People’s Militia of Donbas and Russia.

Disproof

One of the multiple disinformation narratives on the downing of flight MH17 denying Russia's responsibility. The Dutch-led criminal investigation by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has been ongoing since 2014. On 28 September 2016, the JIT announced that flight MH17 was shot down by a missile from the 9M38 series, which was launched by a BUK TELAR missile system. The system was transported from the Russian Federation to an agricultural field near the town of Pervomaiskiy in Eastern Ukraine, from where the missile was launched. After firing, the system, with 1 missing missile, went back to the Russian Federation. On the 24 May 2018, the JIT announced its conclusion that the BUK TELAR used to shoot down MH17 came from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, a unit of the Russian armed forces from Kursk in the Russian Federation. On the basis of the investigation conducted by the JIT, consisting of law enforcement agencies from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, Ukraine and the Netherlands, the Dutch Public Prosecution Service will prosecute Igor Vsevolodovich Girkin, Sergey Nikolayevich Dubinskiy, Oleg Yuldashevich Pulatov and Leonid Volodymyrovych Kharchenko for causing the crash of flight MH17 and murdering all 298 persons on board. The Public Prosecution Service alleges that the four cooperated to obtain and deploy the BUK TELAR with the aim of shooting down an aircraft. The public hearing took place on 9 March 2020 in the Netherlands. The European Union and NATO have called on the Russian Federation to accept its responsibility and to fully cooperate with all efforts to establish accountability. On the basis of the JIT’s conclusions, the Netherlands and Australia are convinced that Russia is responsible for the deployment of the Buk installation that was used to down MH17. The two governments are formally holding Russia accountable. On top of that, on 10 July 2020, the Dutch government decided to bring Russia before the European Court of Human Rights for its role in the downing of Flight MH17. As stated on the government's website, it "attaches importance to continuing the meetings with Russia on the matter of state responsibility. The purpose of these meetings is to find a solution that does justice to the enormous suffering and damage cause by the downing of Flight MH17." You can see other examples of pro-Kremlin disinformation on the MH17 case in our database, such as claims that crash of MH17 was triggered by an explosion on board; that the plane was not downed by a BUK missile, but rather by a Ukrainian fighter; that the JIT tampered with the evidence; that the trial in The Hague is not justice but information warfare; or that it is a US provocation against Russia.