Newly declassified U.S. intel claims Russia is laundering propaganda through unwitting Westerners

By | August 25, 2023

CNN reports:

Russian intelligence is operating a systematic program to launder pro-Kremlin propaganda through private relationships between Russian operatives and unwitting US and western targets, according to newly declassified US intelligence.

US intelligence agencies believe that the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) is attempting to influence public policy and public opinion in the West by directing Russian civilians to build relationships with influential US and Western individuals and then disseminate narratives that support Kremlin objectives, obscuring the FSB’s role through layers of ostensibly independent actors.

“These influence operations are designed to be deliberately small scale, the overall goal being US [and] Western persons presenting these ideas, seemingly organic,” a US official authorized to discuss the material told CNN. “The co-optee influence operations are built primarily on personal relationships … they build trust with them and then they can leverage that to covertly push the FSB’s agenda.”

The campaigns have sometimes been effective at planting Russian narratives in the Western press, according to the intelligence. Maxim Grigoriev, who heads a Russian NGO, made multiple speeches to the UN presenting a false study that claimed the humanitarian group the White Helmets – which operates in Syria – was running a black market for human organs and had faked chemical attacks by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, with whom Russia is allied. Those claims eventually found their way into a television report on the far-right OANN in the United States, according to open-source materials provided by the official. [Continue reading…]

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