Peculiarities of Russia’s Approaches to the Influence on the Process and Results of the Elections in Ukraine
The main action plan of the Russian Federation on the Ukrainian direction in the short and medium terms envisages further provoking a comprehensive destabilization of the situation in Ukraine in order to facilitate the revenge of pro-Russian forces in our country following the results of the 2019 elections. The said will include systemic and versatile measures for influencing the election process and vote count during the presidential and then parliamentary elections in Ukraine.
In this context, the RF will most likely intensify its efforts on the following:
– destabilization of the situation in the territory controlled by Ukraine, as well as on the line of demarcation with the temporarily occupied territories in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, aggravation of military-political confrontation with elements of economic influence;
– conducting information and propaganda campaigns in the Ukrainian media space and using instruments for cyber-space intervention;
– measures to provide electoral support to some candidates (“working” with Ukrainian citizens living in temporarily occupied territories, using civic organizations as a cover, financing of all spectra of radical political forces — both anti-Ukrainian and ultranationalist);
– discrediting the electoral process in Ukraine and the current Ukrainian authorities in the international media space and through the Kremlin’s positions in international organizations, political and expert circles of Western countries.
Interference in Elections Throughout the Territory of Ukraine
The Kremlin’s key element to achieve its goal of revenge of pro-Russian forces in Ukraine is to continue in the short term the measures to destabilize the socio-political situation and spread chaos throughout the Ukrainian territory.
The RF is going to intensify its efforts in the following areas:
1. Conducting information and propaganda campaigns in the Ukrainian media space
The main focus is on lumbering the information space to distract the general public’s attention from really important issues, and on the predominance of the black PR in the media space in order to increase anti-ratings of some politicians.
By the results of the monitoring of the socio-political and socio-economic situation in Ukraine in November-December 2018, the Russian Federation came to the conclusion that it is necessary to carry out information and propaganda campaigns aimed at the following:
– “Disclosure” of corruption and “shadow” schemes that are of great concern to ordinary Ukrainians, as well as the problems of reforming the health care and education systems.
– Ensuring mass “correct” voting of labor migrants from Ukraine working in Belarus and Kazakhstan, the situation in the environment of whom is characterized by “political apathy”.
2. Using an Extensive Network of Resources
The following resources will be used for conducting anti-governmental information and propaganda measures:
– Potential of the media sphere.
In addition to the possibility of fake news through Russian – funded media, the Kremlin’s tactics includes unwitting use of the so-called journalistic “network marketing” – media representatives’ spreading (for the financial remuneration) of promoted stories (in particular, information, critical of the authorities). It also is going to block state-owned and private Ukrainian Internet resources during the presidential and parliamentary elections in our country, in particular, with further establishment of control over local mass media.
–More active work in social networks (bots, trolls).
The main efforts will be directed through influencing the electoral preferences of target groups (by age, gender, geographical position, social status, etc.).
– Sensitivity of nationalist right- and left-wing radical groups throughout the country to calls “to profile themselves by the use of force”.
The aim of provoking these groups to “force response” is destabilization of the situation in the society, spread of violent acts and fear among the population, panic and distrust of the current authorities. The result of these actions should cause a loss of confidence in the election process and election results that will directly affect voter turnout, especially in regions, traditional for democratic political forces.
– Spreading fake data of exit polls during the presidential race.
Russia is going to use false data of polls at polling stations during voting, which will be made public on the evening of March 31, in order to spread chaos in the electoral process and create grounds for the Kremlin’s statement about allegedly illegitimate elections of the President of Ukraine.
– Using structures of ethnic Ukrainians of the RF’s regions bordering on Ukraine in measures to influence the public opinion in the adjacent regions of our country;
– Involvement of representatives and supporters of the UOC-MP.
The RF will use a religious factor to destabilize the situation in Ukraine, in particular, during the celebration of the Palm Week (April 21- 28) it will conduct provocations related to Russia’s not recognizing the results of the presidential election in our country.
To this end, the Russian side will organize a pilgrimage of Russian Orthodox Christians to Kyiv shrines. At this, under the guise of pilgrims, they are going to send to Ukraine both, employees of special services, and prepared for the actions of street disobedience fighters of “Orthodox orientation”.
3. Influencing the Results of Voting
They are studying the possibility of using in the TOT of the Crimea of “illegal schemes for the purchase and export to the mainland of Ukrainian-style ID documents, given to inhabitants of the Crimea before March 2014.
There is a steady tendency to increase the number of people crossing the line of demarcation towards Ukraine in order to participate in the presidential election in Ukraine. The official purpose of the majority of citizens is to visit relatives. The real purpose of their stay is to register at polling stations and to participate in the elections of the President of Ukraine.
4. Building Up the Military-Political Confrontation with Elements of Economic Influence
Analysts of the AP, the Security Council, the Ministry of Defense and the FSB of Russia consider it expedient for the Russian side in the period until the end of March 2019 to adhere to the tactics of instigating a confrontation between the candidates for the post of President of Ukraine, which, according to their calculations, will help to reduce the international community’s support to the Ukrainian authorities.
The concentration of the strike grouping of the RF Armed Forces along the Ukrainian-Russian border, conducting exercises and maneuvers and fire provocations from the occupied territories of Ukraine, is an element of military-political pressure on the Ukrainian leadership.
Interference in the Elections from Positions of the Territories of Ukraine Temporarily Occupied by Russia
In the context of its efforts to interfere in the electoral process in Ukraine, Russia uses the resource of the so-called “DPR / LPR” in order to carry out a series of provocative measures in our country to disrupt and discredit the elections. The Kremlin’s plans also include the use of the factor of self-proclaimed quasi-formations as an important tool for discrediting the current President of Ukraine and his team during the elections – through producing allegations against the Ukrainian authorities accusing them of the “genocide of the Donbas”, destruction of the critical infrastructure of the region, etc.
Special services of the Russian Federation are preparing a series of provocations directly at voting stations in eastern regions of Ukraine, bordering on the territories temporarily occupied by Russia in Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.
Among the options, in particular, is provoking the situation with the refusal to provide the opportunity to vote for IDPs, etc. They are training a group of provocateurs from among Ukrainian citizens who are temporarily residing in our country’s territories occupied by Russia and are part of the intelligence apparatus of the so-called “MGB LPR”. Their task will be to artificially create provocative situations at polling stations that will be covered in the media and will create an impression of falsification, illusion of opacity of elections and their illegality, in particular violations of the rights of IDPs.
Also, the RF special services have stepped up work on the use of passport data of persons who died or disappeared in the occupied territories of Donbas in 2014-2018, but it is impossible to officially confirm or deny their residence in those territories. For agreeing to vote in the elections with a false passport, the so-called special services of the “DPR / LPR” offer residents of the region money and food gift baskets.
Another direction is conducting provocations on the line of contact, intensification of the work of agents in the territories controlled by Ukraine, especially in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
Conducting provocative actions which, in particular, will cause the deaths of the JFO military, the Russian-terrorist troops are going to take measures to destabilize the situation on the line of contact in the ORDLO.
Cyber – Interference
The scenario of the RF’s cyber-interference to influence the results of the presidential election and the situation in our country after the announcement of the results of the presidential campaign includes:
– introduction of harmful software and monitoring vulnerabilities in the cyber defense system of critical infrastructure objects;
– conducting provocations connected with unauthorized interference with the work of computers of the opposition political forces with further “disclosure” of their results;
– massive DDoS attacks on the servers of ministries and departments in order to distract Ukraine’s cyber security forces and countermeasures and to use previously installed tabs.
Using specialists in the unauthorized information seizure, the RF tries to get access to the databases of Ukrainian political parties and personal accounts in social networks and electronic mailboxes of presidential candidates and religious figures.
The most popular method is the penetration of the network by sending out emails with an attachment file with virus. Besides, the hacker community is actively discussing the issue of the Russians developing a virus similar to “Petya” to break the Ukrainian information systems, first of all those of authorities, objects of critical infrastructure, in particular oblenergos (regional energy distribution companies-transl.).
Also, the RF is going to conduct unprecedented cyber-attacks on the CEC servers and district election commissions of Ukraine on the day of the presidential election (March 31, 2019) in order to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the electoral process.
These measures include:
– infecting servers with ”malware worms” capable of distorting statistic data of servers and computers of constituencies and polling stations;
– activating the sleeper malware on Election Day by attacking the effected systems with other types of viruses, aimed at preventing data transmission to the CEC and centralized online vote count. For the planned attacks, they will use malware created by Russian intelligence services for hybrid warfare;
– simultaneous large-scale exit polls in the territory of Ukraine and “parallel vote count” in the East and South of Ukraine, which allegedly will demonstrate the Central Election Commission’ deliberate lowering of the number of votes for pro-Russian candidates.