Information operations · Information Warfare · Politics · Russia

Putin’s Party, United Russia, Plays Seriously Dirty

One very brave Russian, Ruslan Rudenko

I discovered that Russian Federation President Putin’s political party, United Russia, is playing dirty political games and pulling out all the stops in their quest to stop opposition candidate, Progress Party’s Alexei Navalny.

As most of you should recall, someone assassinated the last leading opposition candidate, Boris Nemtsov.

Yet here we are, two years after Boris Nemtsov’s assassination and we are no closer to solving Putin’s personal investigation of Nemtsov’s assassination. There is no doubt this assassination was personally approved by Putin, so why would he ever accuse himself of murder?

Now Putin is playing the same games with Alexei Navalny, and there is no doubt these games can be deadly serious.

What you are about to read is deadly serious. This confession could very easily cause Russian security services to kill a friend of mine.

Ruslan Rudenko, @rslnrdnk, a regional coordinator for Alexei Navalny, had his Vkontakte page copied and duplicated. Vkontakte, for those of you who don’t follow social media in Russia, is Russia’s equivalent to Facebook, mostly in Russian.

The duplicate page looked just like his page and pretended to be him.  His page could have easily been used by trolls to dupe others into believing their disinformation about Navalny, to confess to fabricated crimes, to create fictional events, to fabricate false stories, or anything their sick and twisted minds might conceive. Thank goodness he caught it quickly and had it shut down.

My guess is that trolls were hired to wreak havoc inside the Navalny campaign and this is just the first of a slew of dirty tricks they’re going to use against Navalny and his network.  Don’t forget the Russian police have already arrested Navalny on spurious charges on at least two occasions, for purely political reasons.

I asked Ruslan to describe his experience, and since he’s in Russia, I offered anonymity for his protection.

Hi there! I’ll gladly share the details.

I think I was targeted due to my involvement with Navalny’s presidential campaign – I’m a regional coordinator of his campaign office in Krasnoyarsk, and yesterday several other coordinators were targets of such actions as well: from Tomsk, Barnaul and Chelyabinsk, AFAIK. Although when I’ve filed a complaint form on VK website that someone completely duplicated my page and possibly tries to do some harm, VK’s tech support answered to me that they can provide full and detailed answer on my request only in ~21 hours (due to the heavy load that support was facing then), that clone page was suspended almost instantly, in 5 minutes.

The detail that I wasn’t the only one whose page was cloned and several others regional coordinators of Navalny’s campaign were also targeted suggests that we’re dealing with some kind of a centralized strategy aimed at Navalny and his supporters. In case with other regions, attackers even tried to copy VK pages of regional campaign offices as well.

My guess is that their plan included usage of these fake pages to spread disinformation and possibly to spin this disinformation in the Kremlin-owned media, in order to do some damage to our campaign. Possibly there was a plan to use fake pages of regional coordinators to spread some posts or reposts which could be used in court later (to repost some provocative picture with Nazi’s swastika, for example – in order to jail people later for “Propaganda of Nazism”).

I asked if I should anonymize the article for his protection. His response is very brave.

You can use it freely and also publish my name too. I’m for openness.

Openness and publicity are my shields, that’s my logic.

I salute this brave Russian and I encourage everybody to keep track of him in the future.  I do not want to have him disappear, any harm to come to him, or any legal trouble suddenly happen.  This is 2017, let’s help protect him!

The purpose of this blog is to shine some light in the corners of the rathole that is Russian politics, where politics are dirty and these dirty tactics need exposure. Russian politics are insanely corrupt, this may just help expose it.