Fact Sheet on Foreign Interference in Russia’s Amendment Vote

For several days now, we have seen massive attempts by foreign interference in the voting process on amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation. There are several main areas of interference.

The first is various official statements.

For example, the conclusion of the Venice Commission, which “recommended against changing article 79 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation”.

Article 79 is just about the priority of the Constitution of the Russian Federation over international treaties and the like.

The Venice Commission is an advisory body to the Council of Europe. Russia is not a member of the EU, Russia has not asked for their opinion, Russia has not stated that it cares about this opinion.

Moreover, the decisions of the Venice Commission are not advisory in nature, have no legal force, and are regularly ignored (including by the EU members themselves). But no, they still try to poke their nose in domestic affairs.

Let’s just say Britain is still without a Constitution. The monarchy is supposedly “constitutional”, but there is no Constitution.

The second direction is publications in the media outlets recognised as foreign agents.

“Open Media”, Meduza, Novaya Gazeta, MBH-media, “Insiders”, Radio Svoboda“, Dozhd, Echo of Moscow, and other propaganda leaflets that receive funding through western grants.

Two weeks ago, they were fighting over a grant of $250,000 for who will write the best fake about coronavirus in Russia. And now they all rushed to develop a new bespoke topic – to publish “especially valuable expert opinions on why the amendments are bad”.

And since they receive instructions from two different centres – from Washington and from London – one received instructions to agitate for a boycott, and the second for a vote “against”.

Publications in foreign agent media, in particular, carried such “valuable” messages (here is a list taken from the Chairman of the Commission of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation for the Development of the Information Community, Mass Media, and Mass Communications Aleksandr Malkevich):

1. Voting for amendments is “cynical”.

2. Instagram models are against amendments (as if anyone is interested in this).

3. In St. Petersburg, the activists of the “Party of the Dead” (and who even are they?) held a rally at the Volkovsky cemetery, ridiculing the amendments to the Constitution.

4. Voice of America stated that “there is no certainty that the current Russian government will survive the year 2020”. I wonder if they have such confidence about the current American government? Haha.

5. Tatar social activists called on residents of Tatarstan to vote against the amendments (in fact, no).

6. A Communist Party activist was fined for calling to vote against the amendments (the fine was last year, but who cares?).

7. Fewer Crimeans are ready to support amendments to the Constitution (no evidence or references to sociology are provided).

8. “Deutsche (actually American) Welle” wrote that “the German government is concerned about the vote on amendments in Russia” (according to the Ukrainian Ambassador, there are no official statements from Germany itself).

9. The same “Deutsche Welle” publishes cartoons (quite incompetently, it should be noted) daily about amendments to the Constitution.

10. Pavel Lobkov, a “journalist” from the “Dozhd” TV channel, voted twice, and then tried to make a scandal out of it. But, as it turned out, the voting system still counted only one of his votes, and the “journalist” was brought to administrative responsibility.

Separately, we should also note a DDoS attack on the Central Election Commission (CEC) server, when the defence recorded up to 240,000 remote requests per second. However, this attack was successfully repelled.

The third direction is the creation of fakes, including on social networks.

1. You don’t need a passport to vote on the amendments (we are not the US or a referendum on Scottish independence, where it was possible).

2. There will be no observers at the vote (a very primitive and easily verifiable lie, the real number of observers exceeds 400,000 people).

3. The CEC hides the voting ballots from the media!

4. Navalny said the nonsense that someone buys TELE2 SIM cards for electronic voter fraud (as usual, there is no evidence).

5. People are fined for not participating in the vote or voting “against”.

6. There will be no video surveillance during the vote.

7. Allegedly, the results of the test vote were different from those officially announced (for the sake of this fake, they even created a fake website with a similar design).

8. At polling stations invisible (disappearing) ink is used. The video for this fake was taken in Kazakhstan, where such a story really happened.

9. A funny fake where those who have not been vaccinated against coronavirus (there is already a vaccine? Give me two!) won’t be allowed to vote on the amendments.

10. The Gaidar Institute helped Lyubov Sobol create a fake about the “voice examination” of the Deputy Head of the Moscow Department of Education, Marina Smirnitskaya, who allegedly forced her employees to register for voting.

Even the ever-sleeping Peskov awoke for a moment and commented that the number of fakes for voting for amendments “is simply off the scale”.

Documents of the association “Golos”, near the offices of which cars of the American Embassy were recently seen, were published in open access. According to these documents, “Golos” prepared stuffing and fakes in advance, according to written instructions.

The organisation’s activists were trained to look for reasons and inflate scandals, and if there are no pretexts, then falsify show “evidence” of voter fraud.

“Golos” is funded through the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID). In 2013, “Golos” was recognised as a foreign agent on the territory of the Russian Federation and had to re-register as such. But the organisation’s leaders refused to do so and registered a movement with the same name that is also fed by western grants.

In addition, accounting reports appeared on the Internet, according to which individual opposition “activists” received tens of thousands of dollars from foreign sources for organising fakes and stuffing.

It is separately revealed that the fugitive thief and killer Khodorkovsky and the Communist Party deputy Rashkin synchronously (almost simultaneously with the same words) called not only to vote against the amendments, but also to upload photos on the social network with the inscription “No” on masks, T-shirts, caps, and other items of clothing. Accompanying them with the same hashtag (a coincidence, a total coincidence).

Such is the touching unity of the “communists” and liberals in denying Russia’s right to independence and sovereignty.

Well, the fourth direction of foreign interference is the creation of an illusion of mass protest against the amendments using bot farms on social networks.

Traditionally, due to the inflated Russophobia of the Ukrainian regime and the extreme cheapness of Ukrainian social media activists (I don’t even know which factor is more significant), most of these bots operate from the territory of “independent, European” Ukraine.

I even made a separate selection. This illiterate bot is dissatisfied with the amendments to the Russian Constitution directly from Odessa.

“Voting is not legal and invalid, amendments do not need to be voted on, changes do not need to be voted on, but a referendum does. And Putin’s amendments are not amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation”.

But this one accidentally blurted out that he wasn’t really a Stalinist.

“No, the character I portray is fucked up in theory, it should be grotesquely different)) I have no sympathy for Stalin, but Shevchuk is exactly the opposite.”

And this one is not happy with the situation in Russia from Poland.

“If you are not satisfied with affairs in the country – this symbol (❌) is for you. <…> Yes, I live in Poland. Does it make a difference?”

But there are also canadian opponents of the amendments.

Numerous such fails are unavoidable, because each bot owner has dozens of accounts that are constantly being moved from one task to another, and each time they do not have time to change all the account settings for new tasks (or simply forget).

Therefore, social networks are full of “ardent communists” who in 2014 rejoiced at “shish kebabs in Odessa” on May 2nd, and their message history easily contains both Glory to Ukraine, glory to heroes, and praises for Bandera, and shouting about Maidan victory and frankly Russophobic propaganda. As we know, Ukrainians have never lived so badly as they have under Putin.

Laughter is laughter, and all these four directions are part of a single strategy of foreign interference aimed at fighting against the sovereignty of the Russian Federation.

Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent annually on the maintenance of foreign agents, organisations, and mass media; on the propaganda of the “Voice of America”, “Radio Svoboda”, and “Deutsche Welle”; on the existence of dozens of think-tanks directed against Russia (and some pathetic kopecks on Ukrainian bot farms).

And if we can track all of this, we can already do it in sufficient detail and quickly, but with protection against such foreign interference, it is still very sad. And because of the lack of legislative framework, and because of the passivity of “RosKomNadzor”, and in some places because of excessive concern about “what western partners will say”. It’s time to stop bothering with such nonsense, and start to give a fitting rebuff.

Aleksandr Rodgers

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