Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Annual Report:  Interim Commission of the Council of Federation on Protection of State Sovereignty and Prevention of Interference in the Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation (February 2018)


Russia published its final draft of this report recently and referenced it two days ago. This report is being used as justification for establishing a new “information bureau”, a part of Igor Panarin’s proposal.

To synopsize, it is 83 pages of mostly irrational rubbish, but it supports the creation of a new commission to brand foreign entities a threat to Russia.  It is a classic example of former Soviet and now Russian alt-logic, attempts to grossly revise history and to build the appearance of claims of Russian victimhood.

The report rewrites history, cites irrelevant facts, is full of typos, paints the US, the UK, and NATO as Satan incarnate, and just stinks with the worst imaginable smell. It makes special mention of RFE, VOA, and the BBG.  It also demonstrates the obtuse logic Russians use to say the CIA founded VOA. 

For any instructors of Russian information warfare, this should be required reading. It wonderfully illustrates Russian official thinking, Russian logic, and argumentative techniques in official documentation.

This is supposed to be a final draft. As a former editor, I cringe at all the mistakes, which I include. 

The Commission lacks one very spectacular mechanism, oversight. There are no discernable methods for checks and balance.  

Here is what they are supposed to do.  Notice the word “Provisional”, it’s not yet officially blessed.

The Provisional Commission of the Council of the Federation for the Protection of the State sovereignty and prevention of interference in the internal affairs of the Russian Federation”…    …”– analyzes information on external threats to the sovereignty of the Russian Federation and attempts to interfere in our purely domestic affairs”.  

I looked through the entire report and I did not see any oversight measures built in. In other words, the commission can arbitrarily decide if someone or something is interfering in Russian domestic affairs and can declare them a threat without anyone holding them accountable or responsible.  This is almost dangerous to the extreme.

Much of the report is consumed with creating a history of the United States where American power is projected onto other governments. In other Russian documents, this is usually referred to as American exceptionalism.

Here is another of Russia’s major complaints about the US.

The Commission states that the extraterritorial application of the United States national legislation unilaterally leads to erosion of international law. Actively used political, economic, informational and other non-military measures (including sanctions), the means of “soft power” as new instruments of interference in the internal affairs of states.  

This is not enough, however. Russia had to revise history to create a case for forming the Commission in 2018.  This is because, supposedly, the United States went on the offensive in an information war against Russia, beginning in 2014.

The special intensity of foreign interference was manifested in during the information war unleashed against the Russian Federation (since 2014 it has been took unprecedented character since the end of the Cold War).

Also for the period of 2011 – 2017, continued attempts forces of various agents of influence and other similar means saddle [Ed. ?].  So called social protest, exacerbate inter-confessional and interethnic problems, to use for their own subversive goals of Russian youth.

In the words of a Ukrainian expert, when asked about this report,

I tend not to take any Russian document seriously, because all they do is justify their actions. There is no logic, no legal grounds, no checks and no balances. They simply blame their crimes on others and always say that other countries are much worse than Russia.
 
Here is an excerpt of the conclusion, the entire conclusion is way too long. 

“10. Conclusion The work of the Commission for the period from June 2017 to February 2018 showed that, that foreign attempts to violate the Russian state sovereignty, interference in our strictly internal affairs took place almost continuously from the moment of the formation of the Russian Federation in 1991 to the present. They have intensified since 2007 in connection with the the beginning of the revival of the true independence of the Russian state, strengthening of its sovereign foreign and domestic policies, growth authority in the international arena, the real upholding of legitimate national interests of the country.

A special scale and aggressiveness these attempts have acquired since 2014 in relations with the consequences of an out-of-state coup on Ukraine, when Russia from a number of states was actually declared a diplomatic, information and sanctioning war.”

These two paragraphs made me laugh.  To paraphrase: “they do it and we are blameless.”

At the same time, the Commission draws attention to the fact that the Russian Federation (unlike The USSR, the United States, a number of other countries) did not engage in the export of ideology, various “revolutions”, did not proclaim the need to intervene in the sovereign affairs of others, did not fix such contradictory international law in the laws and other normative acts.

On the contrary, in all official documents and statements of the President of the Russian Federation, chambers of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, the Government of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Central Election Commission, etc. full support inviolability of the principle of non-interference in the sovereign affairs of others states.”

This statement is ironic, in the words of the Ukrainian expert,

…for it was the Federal Assembly that ratified the Crimean Accession Treaty back in 2014. The Russian President signed it, the State Duma and the Federal Assembly ratified it. It is the best demonstration of “non-interference” in the sovereign affairs by the Russian government.

In other words, everything Russia did was to interfere in Ukraine. Pot Calling Kettle Black.

This document is pure documentation of Russia’s victim status. There is no strategy and contains no tactics. There is only the justification for creating an entity designed to identify and brand enemies of the state.

This document and the creation of this organization appear to be reactionary, a response to the almost global recognition that Russia is a rogue state in at least the information realm. They intend to establish themselves as victims and are (still) trying to legitimize that conclusion. 

Source: (http://council.gov.ru/media/files/BX3FqMRAl7ykAmPLRl4cR1ju4RaswiKN.pdf) (Russian)

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