Disinfo: Russia did not interfere in neither 2016, nor 2020 US Presidential Elections

Summary

A declassified US intelligence report notes that Russia was trying to thwart Joe Biden’s victory and help Donald Trump's re-election, as well as, "sow discord" in American society. Additionally, Iran, Hezbollah and Cuba are named among those who presumably wanted to influence the vote. The document also announced new sanctions against Russia.

Russia did not interfere in previous elections and did not interfere in the 2020 elections mentioned in this report. Russia has nothing to do with any campaigns against any of the candidates. In this regard, Russia considers this report to be incorrect. It is absolutely baseless and unsubstantiated. The report can be regarded as a reason to put the issue of new sanctions on the agenda.

Disproof

This is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation denying Russian interference in the 2016, as well as, in the 2020 US presidential elections, consistent with the narrative that the sanctions on Russia are groundless and illegal.

Contrary to the claims, available evidence suggests that Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential poll - which was specifically aimed at damaging Clinton's campaign and aid her opponent - did affect the vote, particularly in three critical swing states where Trump's victory margins were the thinnest. In the US, Russian-linked posts reached 126 million Facebook users, whilst 29 million saw the content "directly".

The US Justice Department has charged 12 Russian intelligence officers with hacking Democratic officials in the 2016 US elections. Previously, 13 Russian citizens as well as the Internet Research Agency, Concord Management and Concord Catering had been charged with interfering with the US political system.

Robert Mueller's investigation also concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. Mueller's report determined that there were "two main Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election". The first involved attempts by the Internet Research Agency to conduct disinformation and social media operations in the US to sow social discord, with the aim of interfering with the election. The second involved the Russian government's efforts to conduct computer hacking operations designed to gather and disseminate information to influence the election.

Regarding the 2020 US presidential election, on 10 March 2021, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (NIC) released the declassified Intelligence Community assessment of foreign threats to the 2020 U.S. federal elections: the report indicates that “Russian state and proxy actors who all serve the Kremlin’s interests worked to affect U.S. public perceptions". It refers mainly to disinformation operations aimed at “denigrating President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process, and exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the US”.

Previously, between September and October 2019, Facebook and Instagram removed 75,000 posts linked to accounts that “appear to be linked to the Russian troll agency, the Internet Research Agency (IRA)”, which, according to the analysis of experts and Facebook moderation, “tried to sow division by targeting both the left and right with posts to foment outrage, fear, and hostility. Much of their activity seemed designed to discourage certain people from voting”.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 236
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 17/03/2021
  • Article language(s) Russian
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Russia, US
  • Keywords: election meddling, US Presidential Election 2020, Sanctions
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Western countries lie about Ghouta

The UN final report on what is known as the Ghouta massacre on August 21, 2013 does not reveal its perpetrator.

In addition, a MIT study from February 2014 explains that the attack was launched from a so-called rebel area.

This is not to say that Bashar El Assad did not perpetrate any chemical attack. This is to emphasise that once again, Western governments have lied to their people to bring down their enemies.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives attempting to cast doubt on who is responsible for the 2013 chemical attacks in Syria and questioning the integrity of Western governments by accusing them of lying systematically to the public to bring down countries that resist them.

The Ghouta attack was investigated by a UN Mission set up by the UN Secretary General, and its findings were contained in a report published in September 2013. The OPCW and the WHO played an important but auxiliary role throughout the process (ibid., p. 4).

Bellingcat reports do not contain evidence

The Bellingcat news agency has been registered in Higgins' name, and the latest "revealing" anti-Russian news is spread from this agency. However, these reports do not contain any evidence.

Disproof

Pro-Kremlin disinformation attempting to discredit Bellingcat which has long been a thorn in the side of the Kremlin and recently presented proof that Alexei Navalny was poisoned by FSB agents. Alexei Navalny duped one of the FSB agents, Konstantin Kudryavtsev, into admitting his role in the poisoning and Bellingcat had already named him in its investigation as one of the FSB agents involved.

Ironically, no evidence is given to support the claims about a lack of evidence in Bellingcat’s reports. Bellingcat is an well-known independent group of researchers, investigators and citizen journalists which probes different subjects using open source and social media investigations. The team has won a lot of awards and prizes, for example, the European Press Prize for Investigation in 2019 and the London Press Club award for Digital Journalism in 2019 to name just a few.

Crimea returned to Russia after a referendum

Crimea returned to be a Russian federal province, after a referendum held on March 16, 2014, in Crimea and Sevastopol, and both regions have become within the Russian Federation, as of March 18, 2014.

Crimea was one of the Russian provinces up until the beginning of the fifties of the twentieth century when the authorities of the Union of Soviet Republics decided to transfer their subordination to the Republic of Ukraine.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the illegal annexation of Crimea, claiming that Crimea voted to rejoin Russia through a legal referendum and painting the idea that Crimea has never belonged to Ukraine.

For historical reference, Crimea was annexed by Catherine II (the Great), then containing Ukraine in 1783, already in violation of a treaty that guaranteed the independence of the Tatar khanate.