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The Russians are coming for European elections! Just don’t ask for proof

The Russians are coming for European elections! Just don’t ask for proof
Those dastardly Russian hackers are alive and well and meddling in the upcoming European Parliament elections, warned the New York Times. Just don’t expect to see any proof, because the paper offers none.

Fresh from interfering in seemingly everything wrong in America, unidentified Russian hackers have shifted their attention to Europe, deploying information warfare tactics to give a boost to populist and right-wing parties ahead of next month’s European Parliament elections. At least according to a New York Times article, given the front-page treatment on Sunday.

The story is heavy with accusation. The Russians, it states, are busy “spreading disinformation, encouraging discord and amplifying distrust in the centrist parties that have governed for decades.” Among their tools are news websites that “bear the same electronic signatures as pro-Kremlin websites,” Twitter accounts, Facebook profiles, and WhatsApp groups.

Although the Times article claimed that “intelligence officials,” and “security experts” back up its theories, it quotes only one: Former FBI analyst Daniel Jones, who now runs a nonprofit entitled Advance Democracy.

“They’re working to destroy everything that was built post-World War II,” Jones said, an explanation rivaling George W. Bush’s “they hate our freedom” for its nonsensical reductionism.

Is it possible that Jones might have an agenda? Most definitely. The former intelligence analyst runs a second nonprofit, The Democracy Integrity Project, from his home in Virginia. TDIP spent much of the last two years emailing a daily “collusion”newsletter to journalists, including those at the New York Times.

Jones’ ties to the Democratic party machine are also extensive. A former staffer for California Senator Dianne Feinstein (D), Jones reportedly worked with opposition research firm Fusion GPS to continue to search for evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia even after Trump’s election. The uncorroborated claims made in the so-called ‘Steele Dossier’ often featured prominently in TDIP’s daily memos to reporters, and leaked text messages to Democrat Senate Intelligence Committee member Mark Warner revealed Jones to be an associate of Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled the dossier.

With the Steele Dossier deemed unfit to print by every single mainstream media outlet (except, of course, Buzzfeed), and with the “collusion” narrative completely dismantled by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report, who else can the New York Times bring in to back up their Russian meddling expose?

Enter Ben Nimmo, who claims at the end of the article that Europe is a “test bed” for Russian interference efforts. Again, Nimmo offers no proof, but a glimpse at his resume gives an idea of what his motivations might be. A senior fellow at NATO-sponsored think tank the Atlantic Council, Nimmo has emerged in recent years as a reliable Russia-basher, always ready to give a juicy soundbite to the media. He’s also identified thousands of ‘Russian-linked’ Twitter accounts, based on some thoroughly dodgy methodology.

With two ‘experts’ down, what has the Times got left? Not much. The article notes that “a definitive attribution would require the kind of tools that the American government used to reveal the 2016 interference.” Of course, none is provided.

Even if the Russians aren’t involved, the article claims that populist and right-wing groups in Europe are “adopting many of the Kremlin’s tactics.” In practice, this means that the nasties on the right side of the political spectrum make funny memes and videos to support their candidates of choice.

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Running through the article is a palpable fear that the centrism that has dominated European politics for more than half a century is now under threat. “False and divisive stories about the European Union, NATO, immigrants and more,” amplify the threat, driving voters into the embrace of populist parties, “many of them sympathetic to Russia.”

However, never once does it occur to the authors that perhaps Europeans are simply tiring of the consensus. Perhaps they disagree with mass immigration, especially at a time of slow economic recovery from the Great Recession. Perhaps they disagree with the often unaccountable bureaucracy of Brussels, and their membership in a military alliance that they have personally never felt a connection with. After all, populism is called populism because its positions are popular ones.

But nope, it’s all a sinister Russian plot to undermine democracy. Let’s go with that one.

Graham Dockery, RT

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