[Senate Prints 115-21]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]

115th Congress}                                            { S. Prt.                                 
 2nd  Session }              COMMITTEE PRINT		   { 115-21

                       PUTIN'S ASYMMETRIC ASSAULT

                       ON DEMOCRACY IN RUSSIA AND

                        EUROPE: IMPLICATIONS FOR

                         U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY


                        A MINORITY STAFF REPORT

                      PREPARED FOR THE USE OF THE


                          UNITED STATES SENATE

                     One Hundred Fifteenth Congress

                             Second Session

                            January 10, 2018


Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.fdsys.gov

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                COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS          

               BOB CORKER, Tennessee, Chairman          
JAMES E. RISCH, Idaho                BENJAMIN L. CARDIN, Maryland
MARCO RUBIO, Florida                 ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
RON JOHNSON, Wisconsin               JEANNE SHAHEEN, New Hampshire
JEFF FLAKE, Arizona                  CHRISTOPHER A. COONS, Delaware
CORY GARDNER, Colorado               TOM UDALL, New Mexico
TODD YOUNG, Indiana                  CHRISTOPHER MURPHY, Connecticut
JOHN BARRASSO, Wyoming               TIM KAINE, Virginia
JOHNNY ISAKSON, Georgia              EDWARD J. MARKEY, Massachusetts
ROB PORTMAN, Ohio                    JEFF MERKLEY, Oregon
RAND PAUL, Kentucky                  CORY A. BOOKER, New Jersey

                  Todd Womack, Staff Director        
            Jessica Lewis, Democratic Staff Director        
                    John Dutton, Chief Clerk        

                        C O N T E N T S

Letter of Transmittal............................................     v
Executive Summary................................................     1
Chapter 1: Putin's Rise and Motivations..........................     7
    Ascent to the Top............................................     8
    Return of the Security Services..............................    10
    The Kremlin's Paranoid Pathology.............................    13
Chapter 2: Manipulation and Repression Inside Russia.............    15
    Influencing Ideology, Politics, and Culture..................    17
    Controlling the Public Narrative.............................    24
    Corrupting Economic Activity.................................    31
Chapter 3: Old Active Measures and Modern Malign Influence 
  Operations.....................................................    35
    A Brief History of Soviet Active Measures....................    37
    Modern Malign Influence Operations...........................    37
    The Kremlin's Disinformation Platforms.......................    40
Chapter 4: Weaponization of Civil Society, Ideology, Culture, 
  Crime, and Energy..............................................    47
    The Role of State Foundations, GONGOs, NGOs, and Think Tanks.    47
    The Kremlin's Cultivation of Political Extremes..............    50
    The Use of the Russian Orthodox Church.......................    53
    The Nationalization of Organized Crime.......................    54
    The Export of Corruption.....................................    57
    The Leveraging of Energy Supplies for Influence..............    58
Chapter 5: Kremlin Interference in Semi-Consolidated Democracies 
  and Transitional Governments...................................    65
    Ukraine......................................................    67
    Georgia......................................................    73
    Montenegro...................................................    77
    Serbia.......................................................    81
    Bulgaria.....................................................    89
    Hungary......................................................    94
Chapter 6: Kremlin Interference in Consolidated Democracies......    99
    Baltic States: Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia................   100
    Nordic States: Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden..........   109
    The Netherlands..............................................   113
    United Kingdom...............................................   116
    France.......................................................   121
    Germany......................................................   127
    Spain........................................................   133
    Italy........................................................   137
Chapter 7: Multilateral & U.S. Efforts to Counter the Kremlin's 
  Asymmetric Arsenal.............................................   141
    Collective Defenses Against Disinformation and Cyber Attacks.   141
    European Energy Diversification and Integration..............   144
    EU and U.S. Efforts to Sanction Malicious Actors.............   145
    U.S. Efforts to Create Alternative and Accurate Quality 
      Programming................................................   148
    Assessing the State Department's Global Engagement Center....   149
Chapter 8: Conclusions and Recommendations.......................   153


Appendix A: 1999 Apartment Building Bombings.....................   165
Appendix B: Alleged Political Assassinations.....................   171
Appendix C: Russian Government's Olympic Cheating Scheme.........   175
Appendix D: Russia's Security Services and Cyber Hackers.........   181
Appendix E: Attacks and Harassment Against Human Rights Activists 
  and Journalists in Russia......................................   187
Appendix F: Flawed Elections in the Russian Federation Since 1999   191
Appendix G: Harsh Treatment of LGBT Individuals and Women in the 
  Russian Federation.............................................   193
Appendix H: Disinformation Narratives, Themes, and Techniques....   195
Appendix I: Letter from Senator Cardin to European Ambassadors...   199


                         LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL


                              United States Senate,
                            Committee on Foreign Relations,
                                   Washington, DC, January 10, 2018
    Dear Colleagues: For years, Vladimir Putin's government has 
engaged in a relentless assault to undermine democracy and the 
rule of law in Europe and the United States. Mr. Putin's 
Kremlin employs an asymmetric arsenal that includes military 
invasions, cyberattacks, disinformation, support for fringe 
political groups, and the weaponization of energy resources, 
organized crime, and corruption. The Kremlin has refined the 
use of these tools over time and these attacks have intensified 
in scale and complexity across Europe. If the United States 
fails to work with urgency to address this complex and growing 
threat, the regime in Moscow will become further emboldened. It 
will continue to develop and refine its arsenal to use on 
democracies around the world, including against U.S. elections 
in 2018 and 2020.
    Following attacks like Pearl Harbor and 9/11, U.S. 
presidents have rallied the country and the world to address 
the challenges facing the nation. Yet the current President of 
the United States has barely acknowledged the threat posed by 
Mr. Putin's repeated attacks on democratic governments and 
institutions, let alone exercised the kind of leadership 
history has shown is necessary to effectively counter this kind 
of aggression. Never before in American history has so clear a 
threat to national security been so clearly ignored by a U.S. 
    The threat posed by Mr. Putin's meddling existed before the 
current U.S. Administration, and may well extend beyond it. 
Yet, as this report will demonstrate, the Russian government's 
malign influence operations can be deterred. Several countries 
in Europe took notice of the Kremlin's efforts to interfere in 
the 2016 U.S. election and realized the danger posed to their 
democracies. They have taken steps to build resilience against 
Mr. Putin's aggression and interference, and the range of 
effective measures implemented by European countries provide 
valuable lessons for the United States.
    To that end, this report recommends a series of actions 
that the United States should take across government, civil 
society, and the private sector--and in cooperation with our 
allies--to push back against the Kremlin's aggression and 
establish a set of long-term norms that can neutralize such 
efforts to undermine democracy. Yet it must be noted that 
without leadership from the President, any attempt to marshal 
such a response will be inherently weakened at the outset.


    In addition, it is important to draw a distinction between 
Mr. Putin's corrupt regime and the people of Russia. Many 
Russian citizens strive for a transparent, accountable 
government that operates under the democratic rule of law, and 
we hold hope for better relations in the future with a Russian 
government that reflects these demands. In the meantime, the 
United States must work with our allies to build defenses 
against Mr. Putin's asymmetric arsenal, and strengthen 
international norms and values to deter such behavior by Russia 
or any other country.
    The events discussed in this report are illustrative, not 
exhaustive, and cover a period ending on December 31, 2017. 
There are several important geographic areas that remain beyond 
the scope of this report, including the Russian government's 
role in the Syria conflict, its complicated relationship with 
Turkey, or its involvement in places like Central Asia and 
Latin America. The Russian government's use of corruption and 
money laundering also merit additional examination by relevant 
committees in Congress, as well as the Executive Branch. Given 
the ongoing investigations by the Senate Intelligence and 
Judiciary Committees, this report does not delve into Russia's 
interference in the 2016 U.S. election. Furthermore, U.S. 
election infrastructure, electrical grids, and information 
systems are outside the jurisdiction of the Senate Foreign 
Relations Committee and therefore beyond the scope of the 
recommendations in this report, but certainly warrant further 
    Finally, there must be a bipartisan sense of urgency so the 
United States immediately begins taking the steps necessary to 
fortify and protect our democracy from Mr. Putin's malicious 
meddling. There is a long bipartisan tradition in Congress in 
support of firm policies to counter Russian government 
aggression and abuse against its own citizens, our allies, and 
universal values. This report seeks to continue that tradition.
                                        Benjamin L. Cardin,
                                                    Ranking Member


                           Executive Summary


    Nearly 20 years ago, Vladimir Putin gained and solidified 
power by exploiting blackmail, fears of terrorism, and war. 
Since then, he has combined military adventurism and aggression 
abroad with propaganda and political repression at home, to 
persuade a domestic audience that he is restoring Russia to 
greatness and a respected position on the world stage. All the 
while, he has empowered the state security services and 
employed them to consolidate his hold on the levers of 
political, social, and economic power, which he has used to 
make himself and a circle of loyalists extraordinarily wealthy.
    Democracies like the United States and those in Europe 
present three distinct challenges to Mr. Putin. First, the 
sanctions they have collectively placed on his regime for its 
illegal occupation of Crimea and invasion of eastern Ukraine 
threaten the ill-gotten wealth of his loyalists and hamper 
their extravagant lifestyles. Second, Mr. Putin sees successful 
democracies, especially those along Russia's periphery, as 
threats to his regime because they present an attractive 
alternative to his corrupt and criminal rule. Third, 
democracies with transparent governments, the rule of law, a 
free media, and engaged citizens are naturally more resilient 
to the spread of corruption beyond Russia's borders, thereby 
limiting the opportunities for the further enrichment of Putin 
and his chosen elite.
    Mr. Putin has thus made it a priority of his regime to 
attack the democracies of Europe and the United States and 
undermine the transatlantic alliance upon which Europe's peace 
and prosperity have depended upon for over 70 years. He has 
used the security services, the media, public and private 
companies, organized criminal groups, and social and religious 
organizations to spread malicious disinformation, interfere in 
elections, fuel corruption, threaten energy security, and more. 
At their most extreme, the Russian government's security 
services have been used to harass and even assassinate 
political enemies at home and abroad; cheat at the Olympic 
Games; and protect and exploit cybercriminals in Russia who 
attack American businesses and steal the financial information 
of American consumers. Mr. Putin resorts to the use of these 
asymmetric tools to achieve his goals because he is operating 
from a position of weakness--hobbled by a faltering economy, a 
substandard military, and few followers on the world stage.
    The tactics that Putin has deployed to undermine 
democracies abroad were developed at home, and over nearly two 
decades he has used them against the Russian people with 
increased impunity. The result has been hundreds of billions of 
dollars stolen and spirited away abroad, all while independent 
media and civil society, elections, political parties, and 
cultural institutions have been manipulated and suppressed, 
significantly hindering effective domestic opposition to 
Putin's regime.
    While consolidating his grip on power at home, Mr. Putin 
oversaw an opportunistic expansion of malign influence 
operations abroad, targeting vulnerable states on Russia's 
periphery, as well as countries in Western institutions like 
the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty 
Organization (NATO). The Kremlin has substantially increased 
its investments in propaganda outlets beyond Russia's borders, 
funded and supported nongovernmental organizations and 
political parties that advanced Mr. Putin's anti-EU and anti-
NATO agenda, nationalized mafia groups to help launder money 
and commit other crimes for the state abroad, and used its 
near-monopoly over energy supplies in some countries to exert 
influence and spread corruption.
    In semi-consolidated democracies and transitional 
governments on Russia's periphery, the Kremlin most 
aggressively targets states that seek to integrate with the EU 
and NATO or present an opportunity to weaken those institutions 
from within. For example, as Georgia and Ukraine moved closer 
to these institutions, the Russian government attacked them 
with cyberwarfare, disinformation campaigns, and military 
force. When the Kremlin's attempt to politically influence 
Montenegro's election failed, its security services allegedly 
tried to launch a coup. In Serbia, the Kremlin exploits 
cultural connections and leverages its near monopoly on energy 
supplies to attempt to slow down or derail the country's 
Western integration efforts. And though they are in the EU and 
NATO, countries like Hungary and Bulgaria face acute challenges 
from the Russian government, which exerts significant influence 
in politics, business, and the energy sector. Despite some 
efforts to counter Russian malign influence, these countries 
remain significantly vulnerable to the Kremlin's corrupt 
    In consolidated democracies within the EU and NATO, the 
Russian government seeks to undermine support for sanctions 
against Russia, interfere in elections through overt or covert 
support of sympathetic political parties and the spread of 
disinformation, and sow discord and confusion by exacerbating 
existing social and political divisions through disinformation 
and cultivated ideological groups. This group of countries has 
developed several effective countermeasures that both deter 
Russian government behavior and build societal resilience. As 
it crafts its response, the United States should look to these 
lessons learned:

   The United Kingdom has made a point to publicly chastise 
        the Russian government for its meddling in democracies, 
        and moved to strengthen cybersecurity and electoral 

   Germany pre-empted Kremlin interference in its national 
        election with a strong warning of consequences, an 
        agreement among political parties not to use bots or 
        paid trolls, and close cyber cooperation between the 
        government and political campaigns.

   Spain has led Europe in cracking down on Russia-based 
        organized crime groups that use the country as an 
        operational base and node for money laundering and 
        other crimes.

   France has fostered strong cooperation between government, 
        political, and media actors to blunt the impact of the 
        Kremlin's cyber-hacking and smear campaigns.

   The Nordic states have largely adopted a ``whole of 
        society'' approach against Mr. Putin's malign influence 
        operations, involving the government, civil society, 
        the media, and the private sector, with an emphasis on 
        teaching critical thinking and media literacy.

   The Baltic states have kept their publics well-informed of 
        the malicious activities of Russia's security services, 
        strengthened defenses against cyberattacks and 
        disinformation, and diversified energy supplies to 
        reduce dependence on Russia.

    While the countries of Europe have each had unique 
responses to the Kremlin's aggression, they have also begun to 
use regional institutions to knit together their efforts and 
develop best practices. NATO and the EU have launched centers 
focused on strategic communications and cyber defense, and 
Finland's government hosts a joint EU/NATO center for 
countering hybrid threats. A number of independent think tanks 
and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have also launched 
regional disinformation monitoring and fact-checking 
operations, and European governments are supporting regional 
programs to strengthen independent journalism and media 
literacy. Some of these initiatives are relatively new, but 
several have already begun to bear fruit and warrant continued 
investment and broader expansion. Through the adoption of the 
Third Energy Package, which promotes energy diversification and 
integration, as well as a growing resistance to the Nord Stream 
2 pipeline, many European countries are reducing their 
dependence on Russian energy supplies, though much remains to 
be done.
    Despite the clear assaults on our democracy and our allies 
in Europe, the U.S. government still does not have a coherent, 
comprehensive, and coordinated approach to the Kremlin's malign 
influence operations, either abroad or at home. Although the 
U.S. government has for years had a patchwork of offices and 
programs supporting independent journalism, cyber security, and 
the countering of disinformation, the lack of presidential 
leadership in addressing the threat Putin poses has hampered a 
strong U.S. response. In early 2017, Congress provided the 
State Department's Global Engagement Center the resources and 
mandate to address Kremlin disinformation campaigns, but 
operations have been stymied by the Department's hiring freeze 
and unnecessarily long delays by its senior leadership in 
transferring authorized funds to the office. While many mid-
level and some senior-level officials throughout the State 
Department and U.S. government are cognizant of the threat 
posed by Mr. Putin's asymmetric arsenal, the U.S. President 
continues to deny that any such threat exists, creating a 
leadership vacuum in our own government and among our European 
partners and allies.

                          key recommendations

    The recommendations below are based on a review of Mr. 
Putin's efforts to undermine democracy in Europe and effective 
responses to date. By implementing these recommendations, the 
United States can better defend against and deter the Kremlin's 
malign influence operations, and strengthen international norms 
and values to prevent such behavior by Russia and other states. 
A more comprehensive list of recommendations can be found in 
Chapter Eight.

 1. Assert Presidential Leadership and Launch a National 
        Response: President Trump has been negligent in 
        acknowledging and responding to the threat to U.S. 
        national security posed by Mr. Putin's meddling. The 
        President should immediately declare that it is U.S. 
        policy to counter and deter all forms of Russian hybrid 
        threats against the United States and around the world. 
        The President should establish a high-level inter-
        agency fusion cell, modeled on the National 
        Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), to coordinate all 
        elements of U.S. policy and programming in response to 
        the Russian government's malign influence operations. 
        And the President should present to Congress a 
        comprehensive national strategy to counter these grave 
        national security threats and work with the Congress 
        and our allies to get this strategy implemented and 

 2. Support Democratic Institution Building and Values Abroad 
        and with a Stronger Congressional Voice: Democracies 
        with transparent governments, the rule of law, a free 
        media, and engaged citizens are naturally more 
        resilient to Mr. Putin's asymmetric arsenal. The U.S. 
        government should provide assistance, in concert with 
        allies in Europe, to build democratic institutions 
        within the European and Eurasian states most vulnerable 
        to Russian government interference. Using the funding 
        authorization outlined in the Countering America's 
        Adversaries Through Sanctions Act as policy guidance, 
        the U.S. government should increase this spending in 
        Europe and Eurasia to at least $250 million over the 
        next two fiscal years. To reinforce these efforts, the 
        U.S. government should demonstrate clear and sustained 
        diplomatic leadership in support of individual human 
        rights that form the backbone of democratic systems. 
        Members in the U.S. Congress have a responsibility to 
        show U.S. leadership on values by making democracy and 
        human rights a central part of their agendas. They 
        should conduct committee hearings and use other 
        platforms and opportunities to publicly advance these 

 3. Expose and Freeze Kremlin-Linked Dirty Money: Corruption 
        provides the motivation and the means for many of the 
        Kremlin's malign influence operations. The U.S. 
        Treasury Department should make public any intelligence 
        related to Mr. Putin's personal corruption and wealth 
        stored abroad, and take steps with our European allies 
        to cut off Mr. Putin and his inner circle from the 
        international financial system. The U.S. government 
        should also expose corrupt and criminal activities 
        associated with Russia's state-owned energy sector. 
        Furthermore, it should robustly implement the Global 
        Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and the 
        Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, 
        which allow for sanctions against corrupt actors in 
        Russia and abroad. In addition, the U.S. government 
        should issue yearly reports that assign tiered 
        classifications based on objective third-party 
        corruption indicators, as well as governmental efforts 
        to combat corruption.

 4. Subject State Hybrid Threat Actors to an Escalatory 
        Sanctions Regime: The Kremlin and other regimes hostile 
        to democracy must know that there will be consequences 
        for their actions. The U.S. government should designate 
        countries that employ malign influence operations to 
        assault democracies as State Hybrid Threat Actors. 
        Countries that are designated as such would fall under 
        a preemptive and escalatory sanctions regime that would 
        be applied whenever the state uses asymmetric weapons 
        like cyberattacks to interfere with a democratic 
        election or disrupt a country's critical 
        infrastructure. The U.S. government should work with 
        the EU to ensure that these sanctions are coordinated 
        and effective.

 5. Publicize the Kremlin's Global Malign Influence Efforts: 
        Exposing and publicizing the nature of the threat of 
        Russian malign influence activities, as the U.S. 
        intelligence community did in January 2017, can be an 
        action-forcing event that not only boosts public 
        awareness, but also drives effective responses from the 
        private sector, especially social media platforms, as 
        well as civil society and independent media, who can 
        use the information to pursue their own investigations. 
        The U.S. government should produce yearly public 
        reports that detail the Russian government's malign 
        influence operations in the United States and around 
        the world.

 6. Build an International Coalition to Counter Hybrid Threats: 
        The United States is stronger and more effective when 
        we work with our partners and allies abroad. The U.S. 
        government should lead an international effort of like-
        minded democracies to build awareness of and resilience 
        to the Kremlin's malign influence operations. 
        Specifically, the President should convene an annual 
        global summit on hybrid threats, modeled on the Global 
        Coalition to Counter ISIL or the Countering Violent 
        Extremism (CVE) summits that have taken place since 
        2015. Civil society and the private sector should 
        participate in the summits and follow-on activities.

 7. Uncover Foreign Funding that Erodes Democracy: Foreign 
        illicit money corrupts the political, social, and 
        economic systems of democracies. The United States and 
        European countries must make it more difficult for 
        foreign actors to use financial resources to interfere 
        in democratic systems, specifically by passing 
        legislation to require full disclosure of shell company 
        owners and improve transparency for funding of 
        political parties, campaigns, and advocacy groups.

 8. Build Global Cyber Defenses and Norms: The United States 
        and our European allies remain woefully vulnerable to 
        cyberattacks, which are a preferred asymmetric weapon 
        of state hybrid threat actors. The U.S. government and 
        NATO should lead a coalition of countries committed to 
        mutual defense against cyberattacks, to include the 
        establishment of rapid reaction teams to defend allies 
        under attack. The U.S. government should also call a 
        special meeting of the NATO heads of state to review 
        the extent of Russian government-sponsored cyberattacks 
        among member states and develop formal guidelines on 
        how the Alliance will consider such attacks in the 
        context of NATO's Article 5 collective defense 
        provision. Furthermore, the U.S. government should lead 
        an effort to establish an international treaty on the 
        use of cyber tools in peace time, modeled on 
        international arms control treaties.

 9. Hold Social Media Companies Accountable: Social media 
        platforms are a key conduit of disinformation campaigns 
        that undermine democracies. U.S. and European 
        governments should mandate that social media companies 
        make public the sources of funding for political 
        advertisements, along the same lines as TV channels and 
        print media. Social media companies should conduct 
        comprehensive audits on how their platforms may have 
        been used by Kremlin-linked entities to influence 
        elections occurring over the past several years, and 
        should establish civil society advisory councils to 
        provide input and warnings about emerging 
        disinformation trends and government suppression. In 
        addition, they should work with philanthropies, 
        governments, and civil society to promote media 
        literacy and reduce the presence of disinformation on 
        their platforms.

10. Reduce European Dependence on Russian Energy Sources: 
        Payments to state-owned Russian energy companies fund 
        the Kremlin's military aggression abroad, as well as 
        overt and covert activities that undermine democratic 
        institutions and social cohesion in Europe and the 
        United States. The U.S. government should use its trade 
        and development agencies to support strategically 
        important energy diversification and integration 
        projects in Europe. In addition, the U.S. government 
        should continue to oppose the construction of Nord 
        Stream 2, a project which significantly undermines the 
        long-term energy security of Europe and the economic 
        prospects of Ukraine.


               Chapter 1: Putin's Rise and Motivations


    A Russian interior minister once remarked that ``we are on 
the eve of a revolution'' and ``to avert a revolution, we need 
a small victorious war'' to ``distract the attention of the 
masses.'' \1\ While he made the comment in 1903, the year 
before the Russian Empire entered a disastrous war with 
Imperial Japan, he could also have been speaking before Russian 
forces invaded Chechnya in 1999, Georgia in 2008, Ukraine in 
2014, or Syria in 2015. Those conflicts reflect a nearly 
twenty-year pattern of the Kremlin prosecuting similar 
`'small'' wars to achieve internal political objectives, 
revealing a direct link between the Russian government's 
external aggression and its internal oppression.\2\
    \1\ Simon Montefiore, The Romanovs,  Alfred A. Knopf, at 514 
(2016). When he made the remark, Vyacheslav Plehve, Tsar Nicholas's 
interior minister, had just put down a strike in Odessa. He had also 
turned the Ohkrana, the nickname for the Security Bureau, into ``the 
world's most sophisticated secret police.'' Ibid. at 510. Lenin adopted 
the Ohkrana's methods when he formed the Cheka, predecessor of Stalin's 
NKVD, which became the KGB and, in its current incarnation, the FSB. 
Ben Fischer, Okhrana: The Paris Operations of the Russian Imperial 
Police,  Diane Publishing, at 10 (1999).
    \2\ See Statement of Daniel B. Baer, The European Union as a 
Partner Against Russian Aggression: Sanctions, Security, Democratic 
Institutions and the Way Forward,  Hearing before the U.S. Senate 
Committee on Foreign Relations, Apr. 4, 2017.
    President Vladimir Putin's Kremlin has used a sophisticated 
combination of propaganda and suppression to keep the Russian 
public supportive of wars abroad and distracted from the 
regime's criminality and corruption at home. Putin's 
overarching domestic objectives are to preserve his power and 
increase his net worth, and he appears to have calculated that 
his regime can best do so by inflating his approval ratings 
with aggressive behavior abroad.\3\ While the first-order 
effect of Putin's survival methodology poses a serious threat 
to global peace and stability, it has also created a profound 
series of second-order effects that threaten to corrode 
democratic institutions and open economies around the world, 
including here in the United States. It is not enough to sell 
the necessity of Russia's foreign interventions to only a 
domestic audience and to delegitimize or silence any Russian 
voices that rise in opposition. For Putin to succeed, he also 
requires a divided opposition abroad.
    \3\ Putin's net worth is estimated at between $40 billion and $200 
billion (at the low end, making him the wealthiest person in Europe 
and, at the high end, in the world) and, as some believe, is held 
partly by a group of proxies. Samantha Karas, ``Vladimir Putin Net 
Worth 2017: Russia's Leader May Be One of the Richest Men in the 
World,'' International Business Times,  Feb. 15, 2017; Organized Crime 
and Corruption Reporting Project and Novaya Gazeta, Putin and the 
Proxies,  https://www.occrp.org/en/putinandtheproxies, Oct. 24, 2017.
    To that end, the Kremlin has honed its arsenal of malign 
influence operations at home and taken it global. And while the 
methods used may differ across countries, the goals are the 
same: sow distrust and confusion, promote radical voices on 
divisive political issues, and gain economic leverage, all 
while eroding support for the democratic process and rules-
based institutions created in the aftermath of the Second World 
War. These efforts are largely led by the government's security 
services and buttressed by state-owned enterprises, Kremlin-
aligned oligarchs, and Russian criminal groups that have 
effectively been nationalized by the state. The length and 
intensity of these operations emanate out in geographic 
concentric circles: they began in Russia, expanded to its 
periphery, then into the rest of Europe, and finally to the 
United States. The United States must now assume that the 
Kremlin will deploy in America the more dangerous tactics used 
successfully in Russia's periphery and the rest of Europe. This 
includes, for example, support for extremist and far-right 
groups that oppose democratic ideals, as well as attempts to 
co-opt politicians through economic corruption.
    Putin's regime appears intent on using almost any means 
possible to undermine the democratic institutions and 
transatlantic alliances that have underwritten peace and 
prosperity in Europe for the past 70-plus years. To understand 
the nature of this threat, it is important to first look at who 
is responsible for it, their motivations, and what they are 
willing and capable of doing to achieve their objectives. To 
that end, the rest of this chapter will detail how Putin rose 
to power by exploiting blackmail, the fear of terrorism, and 
war, and subsequently used the security services to consolidate 
political and economic power. The motivations and methods 
behind Putin's rise help explain how he views the role of the 
security services and his willingness to use them to do the 
regime's dirty work, including assaulting democratic 
institutions and values in Europe and the United States.

                           ASCENT TO THE TOP

    In 1999, Russian president Boris Yeltsin faced a problem. 
His second presidential term would end the following year, and 
his political rivals appeared positioned to take power. 
Russians at the time were not happy with Yeltsin's tenure: 
hyperinflation, austerity, debt, and a disastrous privatization 
scheme combined to decrease GDP by over 40 percent between 1990 
and 1998, a collapse that was twice as large and lasted three 
times longer than the Great Depression in the United States.\4\ 
The health and mortality crises that resulted from this 
economic disaster are estimated to have caused at least three 
million ``excess deaths.'' \5\ Yeltsin's approval ratings had 
also cratered amid allegations of rampant corruption, which 
also touched his family members. He needed a successor who 
could protect him and his family after he left office, but no 
one in his inner circle was nearly popular enough to secure 
victory.\6\ He finally settled on a relatively unknown 
bureaucrat to serve as his sixth prime minister in less than a 
year and a half: Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, who was then 
director of the Federal Security Service (or FSB, the KGB's 
successor). Why Putin? In the words of one Russia expert, ``it 
was like spin the bottle, and the bottle stopped spinning at 
Putin.'' \7\
    \4\ Robert English, ``Russia, Trump, and a New Detente,'' Foreign 
Affairs,  Mar. 10, 2017.
    \5\ Ibid.
    \6\ Mikhail Zygar, All the Kremlin's Men,  PublicAffairs, at 9 
    \7\ Eleanor Clift, ``Blame This Drunken Bear for Vladimir Putin,'' 
The Daily Beast,  Apr. 22, 2014 (quoting Russian expert Strobe 
    Putin had also shown that he was willing to protect Yeltsin 
and his family. In 1999, Russia's prosecutor general, Yury 
Skuratov, was conducting an investigation into high-level 
corruption in the Kremlin, including among Yeltsin's family 
members.\8\ As Skuratov was pursuing his investigation, 
Yeltsin's chief of staff summoned him to the Kremlin and showed 
him a grainy videotape that purported to show him with two 
prostitutes in a hotel room. Skuratov submitted his 
resignation, though he later insisted that the tape was a 
fabrication.\9\ But the resignation had to be approved by the 
upper chamber of Russia's parliament, the Federation Council, 
which insisted that Skuratov testify first. The day before his 
scheduled testimony, the sex tape was played on a television 
station after reportedly being personally delivered by 
Putin.\10\ When showing the tape on TV did not prove enough to 
push the Federation Council into action, Putin went on TV 
himself and told the Russian public that the man in the tape 
was indeed Skuratov.\11\ A former KGB general, Oleg Kalugin, 
maintains that the whole episode ``was a special FSB operation 
to discredit an official with the help of a video featuring a 
person who resembled the prosecutor-general.'' \12\ The 
`'special operation'' succeeded, and Yeltsin chose Putin to 
succeed him.\13\
    \8\ Sharon LaFraniere, ``Yeltsin Linked to Bribe Scheme,'' The 
Washington Post,  Sept. 8, 1999. A Swiss construction company, Mabetex, 
which had won renovation contracts at the Kremlin, was found to have 
spent between $10-15 million on bribes for Russian officials, including 
President Yeltsin and his two daughters. Ibid.
    \9\ Julia Ioffe, ``How State-Sponsored Blackmail Works in Russia,'' 
The Atlantic,  Jan. 11, 2017; ``World: Europe Kremlin Corruption 
Battle,'' BBC News,  Apr. 2, 1999.
    \10\ Julia Ioffe, ``How State-Sponsored Blackmail Works in 
Russia,'' The Atlantic,  Jan. 11, 2017. The tape was ``rumored to have 
been delivered personally to the head of RTR by `a man who looked like 
the head of the FSB,' who at the time was none other than Vladimir 
Putin.'' Ibid.
    \11\ Ibid. The tape was also reportedly authenticated by Yuri 
Chaika, who succeeded Skuratov as Russia's prosecutor general. Andrew 
E. Kramer, ``The Master of `Kompromat' Believed to Be Behind Trump 
Jr.'s Meeting,'' The New York Times,  July 17, 2017.
    \12\ Anastasia Kirilenk & Claire Bigg, ``Ex-KGB Agent Kalugin: 
Putin Was `Only a Major,' '' Radio Free Europe/RadioLiberty,  Mar. 31 
    \13\ Celestine Bohlen, ``Yeltsin Resigns, Naming Putin as Acting 
President To Run in March Election,'' The New York Times,  Jan. 1, 
    Putin's confirmation vote for prime minister was called 
during Parliament's August recess, when legislators were 
distracted by upcoming parliamentary elections in four 
months.\14\ There was not much debate about Putin's promise to 
`'strengthen the executive vertical of power'' or to do away 
with direct elections of regional governors.\15\ The leader of 
the centrist group Regions of Russia, Oleg Morozov, reflected 
the overall mood of the legislature when he said, ``I don't 
think we should torment ourselves with this decision . . .  . 
We should vote, forget about it, and get on with business. We 
all have things to do.'' \16\ Some in parliament were said to 
have supported Putin ``mainly because he will be yet another 
`technical' prime minister'' and would have ``no real political 
role.'' \17\
    \14\ Vladimir Kura-Murza, ``The August Vote That Changed Russia's 
History,'' World Affairs,  Aug. 16, 2017.
    \15\ Ibid.
    \16\ Ibid.
    \17\ Floriana Fossato, ``Russia: Duma Approves Putin as Prime 
Minister,'' Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty,  Aug. 9, 1999.
    A poll taken at the same time of the confirmation vote 
showed that just two percent of Russia's population favored 
Putin for the presidency.\18\ But it did not take long for 
Putin to seize on an opportunity--though a tragic one--to 
increase his public profile and strengthen his position to 
succeed Yeltsin. In early September 1999, less than three weeks 
after Putin was installed as prime minister, a series of large 
bombs destroyed apartment buildings in Dagestan, Volgodonsk, 
and Moscow, killing hundreds of people as they slept.
    \18\  International Republican Institute, Russia Presidential Pre-
Election Assessment Report,  at 7 (Mar. 20, 2000).
    Prime Minister Putin reacted fiercely and promised to hunt 
down the terrorists and even ``wipe them out in the outhouse,'' 
if that was where they chose to hide.\19\ Despite no clear 
evidence or claims of responsibility linking the bombings to 
``Chechen terrorists,'' within days of the last explosion, 
Russian warplanes started a bombing campaign in Chechnya that 
the Russian defense minister claimed would ``eliminate the 
bandits,'' and within a week, Russian troops crossed Chechnya's 
border. \20\ As the war progressed, so did Putin's popularity, 
and the number of voters who said they would choose him for 
president increased sharply: from just two percent in August 
1999 (before the bombings), to 21 percent in October, then 
nearly doubling to 40 percent in November, and reaching 55 
percent in December.\21\
    \19\ Sergei Karpov, ``Putin Vows to Annihilate `Terrorists' after 
Suicide Bombings,'' Reuters,  Dec. 31, 2013.
    \20\ David Satter, The Less You Know, the Better You Sleep: 
Russia's Road to Terror and Dictatorship under Yeltsin and Putin,  Yale 
University Press, at 11 (2016); Ruslan Musayev, ``Russia Prepared for 
Ground War Against Chechnya,'' Associated Press,  Sept. 27, 1999.
    \21\ International Republican Institute, Russia Presidential Pre-
Election Assessment Report,  at 7 (Mar. 20, 2000).
    Yet even though Russian authorities said that there was a 
``Chechen trail'' leading to the bombings, no Chechen claimed 
responsibility.\22\ In February 2000, the U.S. Senate Foreign 
Relations Committee asked then Secretary of State Madeleine 
Albright if she believed that ``the Russian government is 
justified when it accuses Chechen groups as responsible for the 
bombings.'' Secretary Albright responded: ``We have not seen 
evidence that ties the bombings to Chechnya.'' \23\ To this 
day, no credible source has ever claimed credit for the 
bombings and no credible evidence has been presented by the 
Russian authorities linking Chechen terrorists, or anyone else, 
to the Moscow bombings (for more information on the 1999 
apartment building bombings, see Appendix A).
    \22\ Satter, The Less You Know, the Better You Sleep,  at 2 (citing 
Ilyas Akhmadov & Miriam Lansky, The Chechen Struggle: Independence Won 
and Lost,  Palgrave Macmillan, at 162 (2010)).
    \23\ Responses of Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright to 
Additional Questions Submitted by Senator Jesse Helms, 2000 Foreign 
Policy Overview and the President's Fiscal Year 2001 Foreign Affairs 
Budget Request,  Hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign 
Relations, Feb. 8, 2000, S. Hrg. 106-599 at 70.


    On December 31, 1999, President Yeltsin resigned, making 
Putin acting president and pushing forward the date of the 
presidential election from June to March--effectively cutting 
the remaining campaign period in half. With the advantage of 
incumbency, a short campaign period, a large amount of monetary 
support from business interests (the average check from 
oligarchs to the campaign was about $10 million), and rising 
popularity from the prosecution of the war in Chechnya, Putin 
won the presidency at the ballot box with 53 percent of the 
vote.\24\ For his first act as president, he guaranteed Yeltsin 
immunity from prosecution.\25\ He was now the most powerful man 
in Russia; yet even before his election, he had already been 
hard at work extending his influence throughout the government. 
Yeltsin would recall later in his memoirs that, after he 
appointed Putin as prime minister, ``[he] turned to me and 
requested absolute power . . . to coordinate all power 
structures.'' \26\
    \24\ Zygar, All the Kremlin's Men,  at 11; Michael Wines, ``Putin 
Wins Russia Vote in First Round, But His Majority Is Less Than 
Expected,'' The New York Times,  Mar. 27, 2000.
    \25\ Statement of David Satter, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute, 
Russia: Rebuilding the Iron Curtain,  Hearing before the U.S. House 
Committee on Foreign Affairs, May 17, 2007.
    \26\ Amy Knight, ``Finally, We Know About the Moscow Bombings,'' 
The New York Review of Books,  Nov. 22, 2012.
    And so he did. Putin eliminated independent centers of 
power by redistributing resources from oligarchs to security 
officers, absorbing oligarch-controlled media empires, and 
neutering regional power centers that did not respect Moscow's 
orders.\27\ He began to install former colleagues into 
positions of power, drawing from his contacts both in the 
security services and from his time working in the mayor's 
office in St. Petersburg in the 1990s.\28\ By 2004, former 
security services personnel reportedly occupied all of the top 
federal ministerial posts and 70 percent of senior regional 
posts.\29\ A 2006 analysis by the director of the Center for 
the Study of Elites at the Russian Academy of Sciences 
estimated that those with backgrounds affiliated with the 
military or security services composed 78 percent of Russia's 
leading political figures.\30\
    \27\ Minchenko Consulting Communication Group (Russia), Vladimir 
Putin's Big Government and the ``Politburo 2.0.,'' Jan. 14, 2016.
    \28\ Satter, The Less You Know, The Better You Sleep,  at 79; 
Damien Sharkov, `` `Putin Involved in Drug Smuggling Ring', Says Ex-KGB 
Officer,'' Newsweek,  Mar. 3, 2015.
    \29\ Satter, The Less You Know, The Better You Sleep,  at 79.
    \30\ Peter Finn, ``In Russia, A Secretive Force Widens,'' The 
Washington Post,  Dec. 12, 2006.
    Some experts maintain that there is no precise ``vertical 
of power'' in the Russian government, with everything 
controlled by one man. Rather, they describe Russian power as 
``a conglomerate of clans and groups that compete with one 
another over resources,'' with Putin acting as a powerful 
arbiter and moderator who has the last word.\31\ His power 
comes from his office, his relations with the elites, his high 
approval ratings among the public, as well as his control over 
much of the energy sector and major state-owned banks and, 
especially, the security services.\32\
    \31\ Minchenko Consulting, Vladimir Putin's Big Government and the 
``Politburo 2.0.'' 
    \32\ Ibid.
    As Putin's power increased, so did that of the security 
services, which, according to independent journalists Andrei 
Soldatov and Irina Borogan, Putin invited ``to take their place 
at the head table of power and prestige in Russia'' as he 
``opened the door to many dozens of security service agents to 
move up in the main institutions of the country.'' \33\ 
Russia's security services are aggressive, well-funded by the 
state, and operate without any legislative oversight. They 
conduct not just espionage, but also ``active measures aimed at 
subverting and destabilizing European governments, operations 
in support of Russian economic interests, and attacks on 
political enemies.'' \34\ Some analysts assert that the 
security services are divided internally, compete in 
bureaucratic turf wars, and make intelligence products of 
questionable quality. Nonetheless, they are extremely active 
and, since returning to the presidency in 2012, Putin has 
``unleashed increasingly powerful intelligence agencies in 
campaigns of domestic repression and external 
destabilization.'' \35\ Similar to his predecessors, Putin 
believes that he can best hold together Russia, with its 
variety of ethnicities and disparate regions, by using the 
security services to concentrate economic resources and 
political power.\36\
    \33\ Andrei Soldatov & Irina Borogan, The New Nobility: The 
Restoration of Russia's Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the 
KGB, PublicAffairs, at 241 (2010).
    \34\ Mark Galeotti, ``Putin's Hydra: Inside Russia's Intelligence 
Services,'' European Council on Foreign Relations,  at 1 (May 2016).
    \35\ Ibid.
    \36\ ``Take Care of Russia,'' The Economist,  Oct. 22, 2016.
    The most powerful of Russia's four main intelligence 
agencies is the FSB, which reports to Putin indirectly through 
the head of the Presidential Administration (the executive 
office of the president) and directly through informal channels 
built on long-standing relationships.\37\ The FSB's mindset is 
described as `'shaped by Soviet and Tsarist history: it is 
suspicious, inward looking, and clannish.'' \38\ While its 
predecessor, the KGB, was controlled by the Soviet Politburo, 
the FSB is a `'self-contained, closed system'' that is 
``personally overseen by Putin.'' \39\ The FSB also controls 
the Investigative Committee, Russia's equivalent to the FBI, 
meaning that no prosecutor's office has independent oversight 
over it and the courts defer to it when making judgements. To 
monitor the private and public sector, all large Russian firms 
and institutions reportedly have FSB officers assigned to them, 
a practice carried over from the Soviet Union.\40\ According to 
scholars of the FSB, ``Putin's offer to the generation of 
security service veterans was a chance to move to the top 
echelons of power. Their reach now extends from television to 
university faculties, from banks to government ministries, but 
they are not always visible as men in epaulets . . .  . Many 
officers, supposedly retired, were put in place as active 
agents in business, media, and the public sector while still 
subordinated to the FSB.'' \41\ And, according to Vladimir 
Kara-Murza, the twice-poisoned Russian opposition activist, the 
FSB ``doesn't just rule Russia, it owns it.'' \42\
    \37\ Galeotti, ``Putin's Hydra: Inside Russia's Intelligence 
Services,'' at 12.
    \38\ Soldatov & Borogan, The New Nobility: The Restoration of 
Russia's Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the KGB,  at 242.
    \39\ ``Wheels Within Wheels: How Mr. Putin Keeps the Country Under 
Control,'' The Economist,  22 Oct. 2016.
    \40\ Ibid.
    \41\ Andrei Soldatov & Irina Borogan, The New Nobility: The 
Restoration of Russia's Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the 
KGB,  PublicAffairs, at 27, 28 (2010).
    \42\ Committee Staff Discussion with Vladimir Kara-Murza.
    The security services have grown accustomed to operating 
with impunity inside Russia's borders. More alarmingly, over 
the past decade they have applied this mentality beyond 
Russia's borders with measurable success. They have been 
accused of assassinating Putin's political opponents abroad 
(see Appendix B), conspiring to cheat doping standards to win 
more Olympic medals (see Appendix C), and protecting 
cybercriminals who steal credit card and online account 
information from U.S. consumers (see Appendix D).


    Despite the Kremlin's increasingly aggressive tactics 
beyond Russia's borders, the United States and its partners and 
allies should not conflate the Russian people with the Russian 
regime. The Russian people have the same hopes and aspirations 
as any other country's citizens: a government that is 
accountable to the people for providing safe streets and good 
jobs, schools, and hospitals. But they are ruled by a regime 
that has a very different set of priorities, focused primarily 
on the maintenance of Putin's power and wealth. Free, fair, and 
open elections are a threat to his grip on power and to the 
enormous wealth he has stolen from Russia's people. If Putin 
can demonstrate to the Russian people that elections everywhere 
are tainted and fraudulent, that liberal democracy is a 
dysfunctional and dying form of government, then their own 
system of `'sovereign democracy''--authoritarianism secured by 
corruption, apathy, and an iron fist--does not look so bad 
after all. As the National Intelligence Council put it, Putin's 
``amalgam of authoritarianism, corruption, and nationalism 
represents an alternative to Western liberalism . . . [which] 
is synonymous with disorder and moral decay, and pro-democracy 
movements and electoral experiments are Western plots to weaken 
traditional bulwarks of order and the Russian state.'' \43\
    \43\ National Intelligence Council, Global Trends: Paradox of 
Progress at 125 (Jan. 2017).
    In dealing with Putin and his regime, the United States and 
its partners and allies should not assume that they are working 
with a government that is operating with the best interests of 
its country in mind. Rather, according to a former British 
ambassador to Moscow, Putin's ``overriding aim appears to be to 
retain power for himself and his associates. He has no 
perceptible exit strategy.'' \44\ Furthermore, Putin's regime 
and most of the Russian people view the history of the late 
20th century and early 21st century in a starkly different 
light than most of the West does. The historical narrative 
popular in Russia paints this period as one of repeated 
attempts by the West to undermine and humiliate Russia. In 
reality, the perceived aggression of the United States and the 
West against Russia allows Putin to ignore his domestic 
failures and present himself as the leader of a wartime nation: 
a ``Fortress Russia.'' This narrative repeatedly flogs core 
themes like enemy encirclement, conspiracy, and struggle, and 
portrays the United States, NATO, and Europe as conspiring to 
encircle Russia and make it subservient to the West.
    \44\ Sir Roderic Lyne, Former British Ambassador to the Russian 
Federation, Memorandum to the UK Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee, 
Nov. 22, 2016.
    As part of this supposed conspiracy, the EU goes after 
former Soviet lands like Ukraine, and Western spies use civil 
society groups to meddle in and interfere with Russian 
affairs.\45\ A good example of this narrative at work was 
Putin's remarks after terrorists attacked a school in Beslan, 
Russia, in 2004, killing hundreds, many of whom were children. 
Putin's response ignored the failure of his own security 
services, and pointed the finger outward, declaring ``we live 
in a time that follows the collapse of a vast and great state, 
a state that, unfortunately, proved unable to survive in a 
rapidly changing world . . .  . Some would like to tear from us 
a `juicy piece of pie.' Others help them.'' \46\ Putin's 
reaction to that tragic event demonstrates the reasoning behind 
analysts' observations that he embodies a ``combustible 
combination of grievance and insecurity'' and that ``Russian 
belligerence is not a sign of resurgence, but of a chronic, 
debilitating weakness.'' \47\
    \45\ Monitor 360, Master Narrative Country Report: Russia (Feb. 
    \46\ Mikhail Zygar, All the Kremlin's Men,  PublicAffairs, at 79 
    \47\ William Burns, ``How We Fool Ourselves on Russia,'' The New 
York Times,  Jan. 7, 2017; ``The Threat from Russia,'' The Economist,  
Oct. 22, 2016.
    Despite Russia's weakness, however, Putin's regime has 
developed a formidable set of tools to exert influence abroad. 
According to a study by The Jamestown Foundation, these tools 
include ``capturing important sectors of local economies, 
subverting vulnerable political systems, corrupting national 
leaders, penetrating key security institutions, undermining 
national and territorial unity, conducting propaganda 
offensives through a spectrum of media and social outlets, and 
deploying a host of other tools to weaken obstinate governments 
that resist Moscow.'' \48\
    \48\ Janusz Bugajski & Margarita Assenova, Eurasian Disunion: 
Russia's Vulnerable Flanks,  The Jamestown Foundation, at 6 (June 
    On the foreign policy front, Vladimir Putin's fortunes 
improved in 2015. His military intervention in Syria 
reestablished Russia as a geopolitical player in the Middle 
East. In 2016, the UK voted to leave the European Union and the 
United States elected Donald Trump, who had warmly praised 
Putin's leadership. Pro-Russia candidates won elections in 
Bulgaria and Moldova. But as Western democracies woke up to the 
Kremlin's interference efforts to destabilize democratic 
processes and international institutions, the pendulum has 
begun to swing back in defense of democracy. Emmanuel Macron 
won a resounding victory in France's presidential elections 
last spring against a field of candidates with pro-Russian 
sympathies. In Germany, Putin's critic Angela Merkel won a 
plurality of votes in the September elections. And countries 
throughout Europe, increasingly vigilant, are dedicating 
increased resources and coordinating efforts to counter Russian 
malign influence.
    Nonetheless, the United States and Europe can and should 
expect Putin to continue to use all the tools at his disposal 
to assault democratic institutions and progress around the 
world, just as he has done so successfully inside Russia over 
nearly two decades.


                      Chapter 2: Manipulation and 
                        Repression Inside Russia


    Many of the tactics that Vladimir Putin's Kremlin has 
deployed abroad to undermine democracy were first used 
domestically, and their brazenness and brutality have grown 
over time. To effectively understand and respond to the Russian 
government's malign influence operations around the world, 
then, requires starting at the Kremlin's own gates. Within 
Russia, Putin's regime has harassed and killed whistleblowers 
and human rights activists; crafted laws to hamstring 
democratic institutions; honed and amplified anti-Western 
propaganda; curbed media that deviate from a pro-government 
line; beefed up internal security agencies to surveil and 
harass human rights activists and journalists; directed 
judicial prosecutions and verdicts; cultivated the loyalties of 
oligarchs through corrupt handouts; and ordered violent 
crackdowns against protesters and purported enemies. This 
laundry list reflects not just governance tactics in the 
abstract, but tangible, regrettable impacts on lives and 
prosperity. Some cases in point: an estimated $24 billion 
dollars has been amassed by Putin's inner circle through the 
pilfering of state resources.\49\ At least 28 journalists have 
been killed for their reporting inside Russia since Putin took 
office in December 1999.\50\ The pro-Putin United Russia 
party's hold on seats in the Russian Duma grew to 76 percent in 
the 2016 elections, and the number of seats currently held by 
liberal opposition has been reduced to zero.\51\ This chapter 
illustrates in more detail the Kremlin's manipulation and 
repression within its own borders, later deployed or mimicked 
abroad, in three areas: ideological, political, and cultural 
influence; controlling the public narrative; and corrupting 
economic activity.
    \49\ The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, Putin 
and the Proxies,  https://www.occrp.org/en/putinandtheproxies, Oct. 24, 
    \50\ Committee to Protect Journalists, ``58 Journalists Killed in 
Russia/Motive Confirmed,'' https://cpj.org/killed/europe/russia 
(visited Dec. 5, 2017).
    \51\ Andrew Osborn & Maria Tsvetkova, ``Putin Firms Control With 
Big Win For Russia's Ruling Party,'' Reuters,  Sept. 17, 2016.
    In October 2014, Putin's then-first deputy chief of staff, 
Vyacheslav Volodin, famously quipped that ``there is no Russia 
today if there is no Putin.'' \52\ The statement encapsulated a 
consolidation of power in Russia over nearly 15 years into a 
``highly centralized, authoritarian political system dominated 
by President Vladimir Putin.'' \53\ By equating Putin with the 
Russian state, Volodin's assertion--just months after Russia's 
invasion of Crimea that brought on international sanctions--
linked the fate of the Russian people with Putin's own. For 
Putin and his advisors, the move to co-opt the identity of an 
entire nation was no doubt fueled by his soaring popularity 
among Russians--from a `'slumping'' 61 percent prior to the 
Sochi Winter Olympics in February 2014 to above 80 percent in 
the months after.\54\ Yet Volodin's statement also marked a 
break from the Kremlin's attempts to maintain a semblance of 
democratic institutions and processes--it revealed that these 
institutions and processes, which became increasingly 
subordinated to the needs and interests of Putin's ruling 
clique, now existed only to prop it up.
    \52\ `` `No Putin, No Russia,' Says Kremlin Deputy Chief of 
Staff,'' The Moscow Times,  Oct. 23, 2014.
    \53\ U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights 
Practices for 2015: Russia,  at 1.
    \54\ Michael Birnbaum, ``How to Understand Putin's Jaw-droppingly 
High Approval Ratings,'' The Washington Post,  Mar. 6, 2016.
    Volodin's predecessor as first deputy chief of staff, 
Vladislav Surkov, had been credited with developing a policy of 
`'sovereign democracy,'' an oxymoronic term explained by writer 
Masha Lipman as a ``Kremlin coinage that conveys two messages: 
first, that Russia's regime is democratic and, second, that 
this claim must be accepted, period. Any attempt at 
verification will be regarded as unfriendly and as meddling in 
Russia's domestic affairs.'' \55\ As described in a 2016 
profile, Surkov maneuvered through a complex Russian political 
system to implement this vision, ``cultivating fake opposition 
parties and funding pro-Kremlin youth groups. He personally 
curated what was allowed on to Russia's television screens, and 
was seen as the architect of `post-truth politics' where facts 
are relative, a version of which some have suggested has now 
taken hold in the west.'' \56\
    \55\ Masha Lipman, ``Putin's `Sovereign Democracy,' '' The 
Washington Post,  July 15, 2006.
    \56\ Shaun Walker, ``Kremlin Puppet Master's Leaked Emails Are 
Price of Return to Political Frontline,'' The Guardian,  Oct. 26, 2016.
    The Kremlin's concept of a `'sovereign democracy'' was 
intended to serve not just as a mechanism for domestic 
governance in Russia, but also as a model to other countries. 
The more that Russia's sovereign democratic model could appeal 
to and be replicated elsewhere as ``a style of government that 
corresponds with the needs and interests of the power elites,'' 
the more Russia would be able to extend its diplomatic reach 
and provide a counterpoint to the democratic principles that 
the United States has long championed.\57\
    \57\ David Clark, ``Putin Is Exporting `Sovereign Democracy' To New 
EM Allies,'' The Financial Times,  Dec. 20, 2016.
    The trajectory of Russia's `'sovereign democracy'' 
experiment has unfolded along a spectrum ranging from deft 
manipulation to outright oppression of the media, civil 
society, elections, political parties, and cultural activities. 
All the while, the Kremlin's sustained and global effort to 
undermine human rights and the governments, alliances, and 
multilateral institutions that champion them has sought to 
reduce outside scrutiny of the anti-democratic abuses that are 
core to its `'sovereign democratic'' system. And similar to 
Putin's capitalizing on the 1999 apartment bombings to 
galvanize his own standing (see Chapter 1 and Appendix A), he 
has used other hardships befalling the Russian people as 
justification for tightening his grip on power. Such 
punctuating moments include the Kursk submarine disaster in 
2000, which prefaced a crackdown on media critical of the 
government's response; the 2004 terrorist siege of a school in 
Beslan, after which Putin moved to replace a system of 
popularly-elected regional governors with centrally-appointed 
ones; and international sanctions resulting from the 2014 
Russian military invasion of Ukraine, upon which Putin has 
amplified the narrative of Russia as a besieged fortress 
requiring his strong hand to defend.\58\
    \58\ The Russian navy submarine Kursk sank in the Barents Sea on 
August 12, 2000 after multiple explosions onboard, resulting in the 
deaths of 118 Russian seamen. In the aftermath of the disaster, reports 
revealed that 23 crewmen had survived the initial explosion, but likely 
died several hours later in an escape compartment that filled with 
water, raising questions of whether the individuals could have been 
rescued in the interim. Government officials first claimed that the 
sinking was caused by a collision with a Western submarine, disputing 
assertions that faulty onboard equipment led to the disaster, and 
initially rejected foreign offers of assistance with the rescue effort. 
See ``What Really Happened to Russia's `Unsinkable' Sub,'' The 
Guardian,  Aug. 4, 2001. In 2004, a group of Chechen rebels besieged a 
school in Beslan, North Ossetia, taking more than 1,000 individuals 
hostage, many of whom were children. Russian security services stormed 
the facility in an operation to end the standoff, during which 
approximately 330 individuals were killed. The European Court of Human 
Rights recently ruled in a complaint case brought by 409 Russian 
nationals that their government failed to prevent, and then overreacted 
in responding to, the attack, leading to inordinate loss of life. See 
European Court of Human Rights, ``Serious Failings in the Response of 
the Russian Authorities to the Beslan Attack,'' Apr. 13, 2017.
    Another key opportunity he seized was to bring a face-
saving close to the conflict in Chechnya--a major element of 
the Putin founding narrative, as discussed in Chapter 1--by 
supporting strongman Ramzan Kadyrov's effort to stamp out 
rivals in Chechnya who were fueling the insurgency against 
Moscow and effectively establish his own fiefdom in the Chechen 
republic.\59\ Observers have noted that the brutal Kadyrov is 
``essentially employed by Putin to stop Chechens from killing 
Russians, but he has also been linked to a long list of 
killings'' and human rights abuses in the North Caucasus region 
and elsewhere in the country.\60\ Moscow has provided subsidies 
to cover an estimated 81 percent of the Chechen Republic's 
budget.\61\ In exchange, Putin relies on Kadyrov and his 
security services to keep a lid on the Chechen conflict, 
deploys them as needed for hybrid operations in Ukraine and 
Syria, and uses the threat of terrorism in Chechnya as 
justification for restricting civic freedoms throughout the 
country.\62\ The outsized power Putin has afforded to internal 
security services (in both Moscow and Grozny) has proven useful 
to him, but has also placed the Kremlin atop a figurative tiger 
that it must ride in an inherently corrupt, brittle system 
fraught with risk.
    \59\ Ekaterina Sokirianskaia, ``Is Chechnya Taking Over Russia?'' 
The New York Times,  Aug. 17, 2017.
    \60\ Oliver Bullough, ``Putin's Closest Ally--And His Biggest 
Liability,'' The Guardian,  Sept. 23, 2015. In December 2017, Kadyrov 
was sanctioned by the U.S. government for gross violations of human 
rights under the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act. U.S. 
Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control, 
``Publication of Magnitsky Act Sanctions Regulations; Magnitsky Act-
Related Designations,'' Dec. 20, 2017.
    \61\ Anna Arutunyan, ``Why Putin Won't Get Tough on Kadyrov,'' 
European Council on Foreign Relations,  Apr. 25, 2017.
    \62\ Ekaterina Sokirianskaia, ``Is Chechnya Taking Over Russia?'' 
The New York Times,  Aug. 17, 2017.


Independent Civil Society
    Soviet-era dissidents who monitored and exposed state 
repression provided the main blueprint for a modern-day 
independent and activist civil society in Russia. And much like 
their Soviet predecessors, Putin's Kremlin has suppressed 
independent civil society and human rights activists through a 
variety of means, including legal restrictions and 
administrative burdens, the creation of government-sponsored 
civil society groups to counter independent organizations, and 
violent attacks.
    Russia's restrictive legal framework for civil society was 
designed and refined over many years. In December 2005, the 
Duma passed amendments that increased scrutiny and bureaucratic 
reporting requirements of NGO finances and operations, used 
vaguely defined provisions to prohibit foreign NGO programming, 
barred foreign nationals or those deemed ``undesirable'' from 
founding NGOs inside the country, and prohibited any NGO deemed 
a threat to Russian national interests.\63\ Surkov argued that 
the amendments were a needed defense against the specter of 
Western countries and organizations set on fomenting regime 
change in Russia. In 2012, after Putin's re-election to the 
presidency, the Kremlin shepherded through new legislation that 
further tightened the operating climate for NGOs: any group 
receiving foreign funding and engaged in political activities 
had to self-report as a ``foreign agent''--a Soviet-era term 
used to describe spies and traitors.\64\ Observers widely saw 
the foreign agent law as an attempt to stigmatize and deny 
funding to NGOs working on human rights and democracy.\65\ In 
May 2014, the law was amended to enable Russia's Justice 
Ministry to directly register groups as foreign agents without 
their consent, and authorities have since expanded the 
definition of ``political activities'' to include possible 
aspects of NGO work and fined or closed organizations for 
violations of the law.\66\
    \63\ Katherin Machalek, ``Factsheet: Russia's NGO Laws'' in 
Contending With Putin's Russia: A Call for U.S. Leadership, at 10-13, 
Freedom House, Feb. 6, 2013; ``Russian Duma Passes Controversial NGO 
Bill,'' Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty,  Dec. 23, 2005.
    \64\ Ibid. This term connotes a different meaning than the Foreign 
Agents Registration Act in U.S. law, in which it is defined in part as 
``any person who acts as an agent, representative, employee, or 
servant, or any person who acts in any other capacity at the order, 
request, or under the direction or control, of a foreign principal or 
of a person any of whose activities are directly or indirectly 
supervised, directed, controlled, financed, or subsidized in whole or 
in major part by a foreign principal'' and which, most significantly, 
does not constrain activities of the agent but merely requires 
registration. 22 U.S.C. Sec.  611(c).
    \65\ U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights 
Practices for 2012: Russia,  at 25.
    \66\ U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights 
Practices for 2016: Russia,  at 2.
    Russia's restrictive NGO laws have had a significant 
effect. Human Rights Watch reported in September 2017 that 
``Russia's Justice Ministry has designated 158 groups as 
`foreign agents,' courts have levied staggering fines on many 
groups for failing to comply with the law, and about 30 groups 
have shut down rather than wear the `foreign agent' label.'' 
\67\ Other laws--relating to extremism, anti-terrorism, libel, 
and public gatherings--have also been selectively utilized by 
Russian officials to repress independent NGOs and human rights 
activists, among other targets. The hostile environment for 
domestic NGOs also fueled a blowback against foreign entities 
who sought to support them. The United States Agency for 
International Development (USAID), which for two decades had 
supported democracy and rule of law promotion in Russia, as 
well as health and education, announced in October 2012 that it 
would shut down its mission amidst pressure from the 
Kremlin.\68\ USAID was not alone: by December of that year, the 
International Republican Institute (IRI) announced it was 
closing its office on orders from the Russian government, and 
the National Democratic Institute (NDI) closed its office in 
Russia and moved its staff out of the country.\69\ In January 
2015, the Chicago-based MacArthur Foundation announced it was 
closing its Moscow office after the Duma asked the Justice 
Ministry to investigate whether a select group of 
organizations, including MacArthur as well as the U.S.-based 
Open Society Foundations (OSF) and Freedom House, should be 
declared ``undesirable'' and banned from the country.\70\ By 
June 2017, the Russian government had listed OSF, NDI, IRI, and 
eight other organizations as ``undesirable.'' \71\
    \67\ Human Rights Watch, ``Russia: Government vs. Rights Groups,'' 
Sept. 8, 2017.
    \68\ Arshad Mohammed, ``USAID Mission In Russia To Close Following 
Moscow Decision,'' Reuters,  Sept. 18, 2012.
    \69\ ``U.S. Pro-Democracy Groups Pulling Out Of Russia,'' Reuters,  
Dec. 14, 2012; National Democratic Institute, Russia: Overview, https:/
/www.ndi.org/eurasia/russia (visited Dec. 11, 2017).
    \70\ Alec Luhn, ``American Ngo to Withdraw From Russia After Being 
Put on `Patriotic Stop List,' '' The Guardian,  Jul 22, 2015.
    \71\ The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, Civic Freedom 
Monitor: Russia,  http://www.icnl.org/research/monitor/russia.html, 
(updated Sept. 8, 2017).
    Legal and administrative tactics used during Putin's tenure 
to create headwinds against the work of independent civil 
society organizations have not only muted criticism of his own 
regime at home and abroad, but have afforded other governments 
a roadmap to similarly deflect criticism. Research by Human 
Rights First published in February 2016 cites at least fourteen 
countries where Russia has provided a ``bad example'' that may 
have inspired other governments to introduce or pass 
restrictive NGO laws; this includes countries like Azerbaijan 
and Kazakhstan traditionally viewed by Russia as within its 
geographic sphere of influence, as well as countries further 
afield such as Ethiopia, Cambodia, Egypt, and Ecuador.\72\
    \72\ Melissa Hooper & Grigory Frolov, Russia's Bad Example,  Free 
Russia Foundation, Human Rights First, Feb. 2016.
    The Kremlin has also sought to co-opt civil society by 
``devot[ing] massive resources to the creation and activities 
of state-sponsored and state-controlled NGOs.'' \73\ Commonly 
referred to as ``GONGOs'' (Government Organized Non-
Governmental Organizations), such groups are used to toe a 
government-friendly line or to promote alternative narratives 
to counter the work of legitimate Russian and international 
human rights NGOs. As one former U.S. ambassador to the OSCE 
described it, ``GONGOs are nothing more than the real-world 
equivalent of the Internet troll armies that insecure, 
authoritarian, repressive regimes have unleashed on Twitter. 
They use essentially the same tactics as their online 
counterparts--creating noise and confusion, flooding the space, 
using vulgarity, intimidating those with dissenting views, and 
crowding out legitimate voices.'' \74\ An expert from the 
National Endowment for Democracy has noted that ``Russia sinks 
extensive resources into GONGOs in countries on its periphery 
and beyond,'' where it can ``eagerly exploit'' the relatively 
free operating space for civil society to maximize their 
impact.\75\ He also notes that, similar to Russia, ``leading 
authoritarian governments have established a wide constellation 
of regime-friendly GONGOs, including think tanks and policy 
institutes, that operate at home and abroad.'' \76\
    \73\ Statement of Michael McFaul, Senior Associate, Carnegie 
Endowment for International Peace, Russia: Rebuilding the Iron Curtain, 
 Hearing before the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, May 17, 
2007. McFaul became U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation in 2012.
    \74\ Ambassador Daniel B. Baer, U.S. Permanent Representative to 
the OSCE, ``Mind the GONGOs: How Government Organized NGOs Troll 
Europe's Largest Human Rights Conference,'' U.S. Mission to the 
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Sept. 30, 2016.
    \75\ Christopher Walker, ``Dealing with the Authoritarian 
Resurgence,'' Authoritarianism Goes Global,  Larry Diamond et al. eds. 
at 226 (2016).
    \76\ Ibid. at 218.
    The Kremlin has also focused on cultivating youth activism 
to serve its own purposes. In 2005, after youth activists 
fueled protests in Ukraine that ultimately toppled the 
government, Surkov sought a buffer against such upheaval in 
Russia. Seizing on the anxieties of a nascent youth group in 
St. Petersburg, he helped develop it into the Nashi (``Ours'') 
youth organization and recruited participants, particularly 
from Russia's poorer regions, who could be readily mobilized as 
a counter-force to pro-democracy demonstrations.\77\ The 
group's first summit was held at a Kremlin-owned facility 
outside Moscow and included pro-Kremlin activists.\78\ Within 
months, Nashi held a rally in Moscow in which thousands of 
activists were bussed in to celebrate Russia's World War II 
victory over Germany.\79\ Nashi and its projects were funded by 
both the state and pro-Kremlin oligarchs and focused on pro-
Putin gatherings and the political ``training'' of youth in 
summer camp-style gatherings, which included posters demeaning 
Kremlin critics and human rights activists as liars and 
Nazis.\80\ More recently, a ``military-patriotic movement'' of 
11- to 18-year-olds known as Yunarmiya (``Youth Army'') has 
been promulgated in schools across Russia, a project of Russian 
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu endorsed by Putin and enjoying 
sponsorship from four state-owned banks.\81\ Its ranks swelled 
from 100 members in 2016 to more than 30,000 a year later, and 
Yunarmiya was prominently featured in the Kremlin's annual 
World War II Victory Day parade in May 2017--just weeks after a 
large number of Russian youth turned out at opposition-
organized anti-corruption protests around the country.\82\
    \77\ Eva Hartog, ``A Kremlin Youth Movement Goes Rogue,'' The 
Moscow Times,  Apr. 8, 2016.
    \78\ Mikhail Zygar, All the Kremlin's Men,  PublicAffairs at 98 
    \79\ Ibid. at 99.
    \80\ Julia Ioffe, ``Russia's Nationalist Summer Camp,'' The New 
Yorker,  Aug. 16, 2010; Eva Hartog, ``A Kremlin Youth Movement Goes 
Rogue,'' The Moscow Times,  Apr. 8, 2016.
    \81\ Ilnur Sharafiyev, ``Making Real Men Out of Schoolchildren,'' 
Meduza,  Oct. 6, 2017.
    \82\ Daniel Schearf, ``Putin's Youth Army Debuts on Red Square for 
`Victory Day,' '' Voice of America,  May 8, 2017.
    Finally, the Kremlin has created a climate where physical 
attacks against civil society activists, as well as political 
opponents and independent journalists, occur regularly and 
often with impunity (see Appendix E). While such attacks are 
not exclusively part of the Russian `'sovereign democracy'' 
toolkit, the impunity with which they have been perpetrated in 
Russia has provided comforting company to other authoritarian 
governments who use similar tactics.
Political Processes, Parties, and Opposition
    Russia's `'sovereign democracy'' relies on democratic 
structures, albeit largely hollow ones, to give a sheen of 
legitimacy to a regime that puts its own interests before those 
of its citizens. Under Putin's leadership, the Russian 
government has undermined political processes, parties, and 
opposition that present a meaningful check on the Kremlin's 
    \83\ Statement of Michael McFaul, Senior Associate, Carnegie 
Endowment for International Peace, Russia: Rebuilding the Iron Curtain, 
 Hearing before the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, May 17, 
    Putin and his allies have neutered political competition by 
creating rubber-stamp opposition parties and harassing 
legitimate opposition. For example, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the 
founder of the Russian oil company Yukos, was imprisoned for 
more than a decade on a spate of charges deemed to be 
politically motivated.\84\ His prosecution could be broadly 
interpreted as a signal to other powerful oligarchs that 
supporting independent or anti-Putin parties carries great risk 
to one's personal wealth and well-being. Genuine opposition 
party candidates have also been blocked from registering or 
participating in elections.\85\ At the same time, parties 
invented by the Kremlin to take away votes from the real 
opposition have received resources and support from the state 
and the private sector. Yet when these co-opted parties have 
asserted a degree of independence, they have had their 
leadership and resources gutted.\86\ More recently, opposition 
activists attempting to join forces through the Khodorkovsky-
supported Open Russia platform have been blocked from using 
hotels and conference facilities to hold gatherings, and some 
have even had their homes raided.\87\ And the Kremlin appears 
set on quashing the 2018 electoral aspirations of anti-
corruption activist and presidential hopeful Alexey Navalny, as 
the Central Election Commission declared him ineligible to run 
because of an embezzlement conviction, which international 
observers and his supporters allege was politically 
    \84\ Tom Parfitt, ``Mikhail Khodorkovsky Sentenced to 14 years in 
Prison,'' The Guardian,  Dec. 30, 2010; David M. Herszenhorn & Steven 
Lee Myers, ``Freed Abruptly by Putin, Khodorkovsky Arrives in 
Germany,'' The New York Times, Dec. 20, 2013.
    \85\ Statement of Michael McFaul, Senior Associate, Carnegie 
Endowment for International Peace, Russia: Rebuilding the Iron Curtain, 
Hearing before the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, May 17, 
    \86\ Ibid.
    \87\ ``Russian Law Enforcement Raid Homes of Khodorkovsky's Open 
Russia Employees,'' The Moscow Times,  Oct. 5, 2017; Anna Liesowska, 
``Online Democracy Group Open Russia Refused Entry to Major Hotels,'' 
The Siberian Times,  Mar. 27, 2015.
    \88\ Vladimir Soldatkin & Andrew Osborn, ``Putin Critic Navalny 
Barred from Russian Presidential Election,'' Reuters,  Dec. 25, 2017.
    Putin has also sought to centralize institutional power in 
Moscow and weaken the parliament as a check on presidential 
authority. Early in his first term, he undermined the authority 
of elected regional governors by creating seven supra-regional 
districts, to which he appointed mainly former generals and KGB 
officers.\89\ By acquiring greater control over media 
resources, he achieved electoral victories for a growing swath 
of United Russia candidates and thereby reduced parliamentary 
autonomy.\90\ In 2004, Putin ``radically restructured'' the 
Russian political system by eliminating the election of 
regional governors by popular vote in favor of centrally-
directed appointments, characterizing this significant power 
grab as an effort to forge ``national cohesion'' in the wake of 
the terrorist attack at a school in Beslan in North 
    \89\ Statement of Michael McFaul, Senior Associate, Carnegie 
Endowment for International Peace, Russia: Rebuilding the Iron Curtain, 
 Hearing before the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, May 17, 
    \90\ Peter Baker, ``Putin Moves to Centralize Authority,'' The 
Washington Post,  Sept. 14, 2004.
    \91\ Ibid.
    The erosion of democratic processes in Russia's elections 
has directly corresponded to Putin's efforts to secure a 
mandate and tighten his grip on power (see Appendix F for a 
summary of flawed elections in Russia since 1999). Around the 
most recent presidential election in 2012, in which Putin 
returned to power amidst credible allegations of fraud, tens of 
thousands of Russian citizens joined large-scale demonstrations 
in Moscow in late 2011 and early 2012, chanting ``Russia 
without Putin!''\92\ The Kremlin's response ranged from 
coalescing support to cracking down on criticism. Throngs of 
pro-government supporters were bussed in to participate in 
campaign rallies expressing support for Putin in a ``battle'' 
for Russia that painted any opposition as traitorous.\93\ 
Following the protests that tarnished Putin's inauguration, the 
government fast-tracked passage of a law that increased 
administrative penalties by a factor of one hundred for 
unsanctioned protests and other violations of the law on public 
assembly.\94\ Working through the Investigative Committee, a 
beefed-up internal security service that then-President Dmitry 
Medvedev established in 2011 and which reports directly to the 
president, the Kremlin carried out smear campaigns and 
discredited opposition figures through dubious charges and 
flawed legal proceedings.\95\ The backlash against political 
competition reached alarming levels in February 2015, when 
opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was murdered just steps from 
the Kremlin.\96\ Nemtsov was to participate two days later in a 
protest he organized against the Kremlin's economic 
mismanagement and interference in Ukraine. He was also planning 
to release a report on Russia's role in Ukraine.\97\ Observers 
alleged that the demonization in pro-government media of 
opposition figures as traitors had contributed to his 
death.\98\ In June 2017, a Russian court convicted five Chechen 
men of Nemtsov's killing. While the verdict was welcomed by the 
United States and other governments, Nemtsov's supporters 
charged that the masterminds behind the killing remained at 
large, and Nemtsov's family has called for Ramzan Kadyrov to be 
interrogated in the case.\99\
    \92\  Ellen Barry & Michael Schwirtz, ``After Election, Putin Faces 
Challenges to Legitimacy,'' The New York Times, Mar. 5, 2012.
    \93\ Marc Bennetts, ``How Putin Tried and Failed To Crush Dissent 
in Russia,'' Newsweek,  Feb. 26, 2016.
    \94\ U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights 
Practices for 2012: Russia,  at 24.
    \95\ Nastassia Astrasheuskaya & Steve Gutterman, ``Putin Foe 
Charged, Russian Opposition Fear KGB Tactics,'' Reuters,  July 31, 
    \96\ ``Russian Opposition Politician Boris Nemtsov Shot Dead,'' 
BBC,  Feb. 28, 2015.
    \97\ Alec Lunh, ``Boris Nemtsov Report on Ukraine to be Released by 
Dead Politician's Allies,'' The Guardian,  May 12, 2015.
    \98\ ``Russian Opposition: Critics or Traitors?'' Al Jazeera, Mar. 
2, 2015.
    \99\ Ivan Nechepurenko, ``5 Who Killed Boris Nemtsov, Putin Foe, 
Sentenced in Russia,'' The New York Times, July 13, 2017; ``Nemtsov's 
Daughter Requests Questioning Of Kadyrov,'' Radio Free Europe/Radio 
Liberty,  Apr. 28, 2016.
    Notably, despite this hostile climate, large-scale 
opposition protests have continued each year on the anniversary 
of Nemtsov's death. In addition, presidential hopeful Alexey 
Navalny spearheaded several anti-corruption protests in cities 
across Russia in 2017. Using social media, Navalny's Anti-
Corruption Fund has broadly circulated the results of its 
investigative work into alleged corruption by Prime Minister 
Dmitry Medvedev and other high-ranking officials. At least 
1,750 Russian citizens were detained after June 2017 anti-
corruption protests, according to the Russian monitoring group 
    \100\ Marc Bennetts, ```There Are Better Things Than Turnips:' 
Navalny Plans Putin Birthday Protests,'' The Guardian,  Oct. 5, 2017.
Cultural Forces and Religious Institutions
    Under Putin, the Kremlin has engaged and boosted cultural 
forces and religious institutions inside Russia to provide an 
additional bulwark against the democratic values and actors it 
paints as anathema to the country's interests. One prominent 
example is the strong ties that Putin and his inner circle have 
forged with the Russian Orthodox Church and its 
affiliates.\101\ The Russian Orthodox Church enjoys special 
recognition under Russian law, while in contrast, laws such as 
the 2006 NGO laws and the 2016 ``Yarovaya'' package of 
counterterrorism laws have enabled pressure against non-Russian 
Orthodox religious entities through cumbersome registration 
processes and administrative constraints, restrictions on 
proselytizing, and expanded surveillance.\102\ Additionally, 
the U.S. State Department has reported that the Russian state 
has provided security and official vehicles to the Russian 
Orthodox patriarch (but not to other religious leaders) and 
noted reports that the Russian Orthodox Church has been a 
``primary beneficiary'' of presidential grants ostensibly 
designed to reduce NGO dependence on foreign funding.\103\
    \101\ See Chapter 4 for more information on the Russian Orthodox 
Church's role in promoting Kremlin objectives abroad.
    \102\ U.S. Department of State, International Religious Freedom 
Report for 2006, Russia; U.S. Department of State, International 
Religious Freedom Report for 2016: Russia,  at 1.
    \103\ U.S. Department of State, International Religious Freedom 
Report for 2016: Russia, at 23-24; U.S. Department of State, Country 
Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016: Russia,  at 53 (citing 
report published in the Moscow Times.
    In return for the state's favor, the Russian Orthodox 
Church has promoted Putin and the state's policies at multiple 
turns. A former editor of the official journal of the Moscow 
Patriarchate (the seat of the Russian Orthodox Church and its 
affiliated churches outside the country) told The New York 
Times in 2016 that ``The [Russian Orthodox] church has become 
an instrument of the Russian state. It is used to extend and 
legitimize the interests of the Kremlin.'' \104\ This is 
noteworthy given Putin's roots in the KGB--the tip of the 
Soviet spear in restricting religious activity during the 
Communist era--and it reflects a careful cultivation of his 
identity as a man of faith and a defender of the Orthodox 
faithful. The image of Putin as defender of traditional 
religious and cultural values has also been leveraged by the 
Kremlin ``as both an ideology and a source of influence 
abroad.'' \105\ In projecting itself as ``the natural ally of 
those who pine for a more secure, illiberal world free from the 
tradition-crushing rush of globalization, multiculturalism and 
women's and gay rights,'' the Russian government has been able 
to mobilize some Orthodox actors in places like Moldova and 
Montenegro to vigorously oppose integration with the West.\106\
    \104\ Andrew Higgins, ``In Expanding Russian Influence, Faith 
Combines With Firepower,'' The New York Times, Sept. 13, 2016.
    \105\ Simon Shuster, ``Russia's President Putin Casts Himself as 
Protector of the Faith,'' TIME,  Sept. 12, 2016.
    \106\ Andrew Higgins, ``In Expanding Russian Influence, Faith 
Combines With Firepower,'' The New York Times, Sept. 13, 2016.
     The Kremlin's cultivation of the Russian Orthodox Church 
intensified following the massive 2011-12 street protests 
opposing Putin's return to the presidency. Patriarch Kirill, 
who assumed leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in 2009, 
endorsed Putin's long rule as a ``miracle of God'' on February 
8, 2012, weeks before the presidential election. He praised 
Putin for ``correcting [the] crooked twist'' of Russia's 
tumultuous democratic transition in the 1990s, and derided 
Putin's opponents as materialistic and a threat to Russia.\107\ 
Eleven days later, members of the rock group Pussy Riot 
performed a protest song, ``Virgin Mary, Redeem Us of Putin'' 
in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior. In a high-profile 
and widely criticized prosecution, three Pussy Riot members 
were later sentenced to two years' imprisonment for 
``hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.'' \108\ In a 
December 2012 speech, Putin invoked traditional and spiritual 
values as the antidote to Russian decline and criticized 
foreign influences, defining Russia's democracy as ``the power 
of the Russian people with their traditions'' and ``absolutely 
not the realization of standards imposed on us from outside.'' 
\109\ And in January 2013, Putin signed a law criminalizing 
``insulting religious believers' feelings'' which enabled fines 
and prison time of up to three years.\110\ The Kremlin's 
fueling of culture wars has also provided context for the 
passage of laws criminalizing ``gay propaganda'' and 
decriminalizing first instances of domestic violence.\111\ The 
effects of these laws on the security of LGBT persons and women 
in Russia is discussed in more detail in Appendix G.
    \107\ Gleb Bryanski, ``Russian Patriarch Calls Putin Era `Miracle 
Of God,' '' Reuters,  Feb. 8, 2012.
    \108\ U.S. Department of State, International Religious Freedom 
Report for 2012, Russia, at 9.
    \109\ Ellen Barry, ``Russia's History Should Guide Its Future, 
Putin Says,'' The New York Times, Dec. 12, 2012.
    \110\ Carl Schreck, ``Holy Slight: How Russia Prosecutes For 
`Insulting Religious Feelings,' '' Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty,  
Aug. 15, 2017.
    \111\ Lucian Kim, ``Russian President Signs Law to Decriminalize 
Domestic Violence,'' National Public Radio,  Feb. 16, 2017.


Media Capture
    Throughout Putin's tenure in Russia, the Kremlin has 
pressured independent media outlets to prevent them from being 
a meaningful check on his power. From the early days of Putin's 
first term, the U.S. State Department noted the threats to 
editorial independence posed by an increasing concentration of 
media ownership in Russia and news organizations' heavy 
reliance on financial sponsors or federal and local government 
support to operate.\112\ Print media required the services of 
state-owned printing and distribution companies, while 
broadcast media relied on the government for access to airwaves 
and accreditation to cover news. Kremlin favoritism, then, 
played heavily in determining which outlets survived. 
Conversely, media outlets that criticized President Putin or 
his actions risked retaliation.\113\
    \112\ U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights 
Practices for 2001, Russia.
    \113\ U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights 
Practices for 2001, Russia.
    A seminal moment in the Kremlin's efforts to capture the 
media in Russia came after the August 2000 Kursk submarine 
disaster that killed 118 Russian seamen. Questions swirled 
about how much the government knew about the accident and 
whether it had done enough to mitigate it.\114\ Putin, who had 
been vacationing in Sochi when the Kursk disaster unfolded and 
did not speak about it until days later, held a town hall with 
families of the dead, in which several relatives excoriated him 
for incompetence. Despite Kremlin efforts to limit media access 
to one Russian state broadcaster and to heavily edit the 
footage that was aired, international and Russian print media 
released details of the meeting and interviews with family 
members that cast Putin's young government in a harsh 
light.\115\ In a secretly taped record of the meeting by a 
journalist from Kommersant, a national Russian newspaper, Putin 
fumed that national television channels were lying about the 
Kursk events and accused them of destroying the Russian 
military through their corruption and efforts to discredit the 
government.\116\ The independent channel NTV, founded by 
oligarch Vladimir Gusinsky, had swiftly challenged the 
government's explanation of the Kursk tragedy and criticized 
its refusal of foreign assistance for the first five days 
following the initial explosion.\117\ (NTV had also aired a 
piece in 1999 asserting an FSB role in the failed apartment 
bombing in Ryazan, after which the Kremlin informed Gusinsky he 
had ``crossed the line.'' In 2000, Gusinsky was briefly jailed, 
exiled, and pressured to sell his stake in NTV to the state 
energy company Gazprom.) \118\ In October 2000, a critical one-
hour TV special aired about the Kursk disaster on ORT, a public 
television channel partly owned by oligarch Boris Berezovsky, 
who had helped to execute the smooth transfer of power from 
Yeltsin to Putin a year earlier but subsequently fell out of 
favor with the Kremlin and announced his opposition.\119\
    \114\ Michael Wines, `` `None of Us Can Get Out' Kursk Sailor 
Wrote,'' The New York Times, Oct. 27, 2000.
    \115\ Ian Traynor, ``Putin Faces Families' Fury,'' The Guardian,  
Aug. 22, 2000.
    \116\ Arkady Ostrovsky, The Invention of Russia: The Journey from 
Gorbachev's Freedom to Putin's War,  Atlantic Books, at 277-78 (2015).
    \117\ See Jonathan Steele, ``Fury Over Putin's Secrets and Lies,'' 
The Guardian,  Aug. 21, 2000.
    \118\ Robert Coalson, ``Ten Years Ago, Russia's Independent NTV, 
The Talk Of The Nation, Fell Silent,'' Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 
Apr. 14, 2011. NTV was founded by opposition oligarch Vladimir Gusinsky 
and was known for its popular satirical puppet show called Kukly 
(``Dolls'') that lampooned Putin and other politicians.
    \119\ Inna Denisova & Robert Coalson, ``Kursk Anniversary: 
Submarine Disaster Was Putin's `First Lie,' '' Radio Free Europe/Radio 
Liberty,  Aug. 12, 2015; ``Oligarch Who Angered Putin: Rise and Fall of 
Boris Berezovsky,'' CNN,  Mar. 25, 2013.
    The Kremlin took steps thereafter to further rein in both 
NTV and ORT, and then other media outlets over which it lacked 
effective or editorial control. Beyond targeting its patron 
Gusinsky, the Kremlin began after Kursk to target NTV's 
investigative journalists and editorial infrastructure. A 
popular NTV presenter was questioned by prosecutors early in 
2001, and the phone line of NTV managing director Evgeniy 
Kiselev was reportedly tapped.\120\ Gazprom undertook a 
``corporate coup'' of the channel in an early morning office 
raid in April 2001, installing a new editorial staff.\121\ NTV 
was subsequently transformed into largely an entertainment 
channel, focused on ``pulp crime reporting and low-brow action 
series instead of critical political coverage.'' \122\ 
Meanwhile, the Kremlin reportedly delivered a message to 
Berezovsky after the Kursk disaster that he would no longer be 
permitted to control ORT's editorial policy; Berezovsky 
subsequently sold his stake in ORT to oligarch Roman 
Abramovich, who asserted years later in UK court proceedings 
that Putin and his chief of staff had directed him to make the 
purchase.\123\ ORT was subsequently transformed into Perviy 
Kanal (``Channel One''), which has become Russia's largest 
state-controlled national television network.\124\
    \120\ Ostrovsky, The Invention of Russia,  at 281.
    \121\ Ibid. at 280-81.
    \122\ ``Takeover Not Celebrated,'' The Moscow Times,  Apr. 14, 
    \123\ Zygar, All the Kremlin's Men,  at 29.
    \124\ Joshua Yaffa, ``Putin's Master of Ceremonies,'' The New 
Yorker,  Feb. 5, 2014.
    The Kremlin's early efforts to neutralize independent or 
critical national media and consolidate state ownership of 
media outlets had a chilling effect on the development of 
independent journalism in the country, and both official and 
unofficial pressure have continued against TV, print, and 
online media outlets that challenge the Kremlin line. Since 
Putin's return to the presidency in 2012, a spate of firings, 
resignations, and closures among numerous media outlets suggest 
that the Kremlin under Putin has no intention of reversing its 
longstanding trend of controlling the media space. For example, 
a high-ranking executive and editor of the Kommersant-Vlast 
news magazine was fired in late 2011 after publishing 
allegations of fraud in the parliamentary elections that year 
and a photo of a ballot with an expletive regarding Putin 
written on it.\125\ RIA-Novosti, Russia's state-run 
international news agency, was liquidated in December 2013 on a 
decree from Putin and refashioned into Russiya Segodnya 
(``Russia Today'') under the helm of an unabashedly pro-Kremlin 
commentator, Dmitry Kiselev.\126\ In 2014, opposition channel 
Dozhd (``Rain'') was dropped from several cable providers and 
evicted from its Moscow studio space.\127\ The U.S. State 
Department has noted that `'significant government pressure'' 
continues on Russian independent media, limiting coverage of 
Ukraine, Syria, elections, and other sensitive topics and 
prompting ``widespread'' self-censorship.\128\ Meanwhile, 
state-controlled media regularly slander opposition views as 
traitorous or foreign, which has engendered ``a climate 
intolerant of dissent'' in which a spate of violent attacks and 
criminal prosecutions of journalists have occurred (see 
Appendix E).\129\ Most recently, on November 25, 2017, Putin 
signed a bill enabling Russian authorities to list and 
scrutinize media outlets as ``foreign agents''and requiring 
their content to be branded as such as well as their foreign 
funding sources to be disclosed.\130\
    \125\ Michael Schwirtz, ``2 Leaders in Russian Media Are Fired 
After Election Articles,'' The New York Times, Dec. 13, 2011.
    \126\ Daniel Sandford, ``Russian News Agency RIA Novosti Closed 
Down,'' BBC News, Dec. 9, 2013; Rossiya Segodnya, which translates to 
``Russia Today,'' is distinct from RT, the international television 
network supported by the Russian government. Dmitry Kiselev is 
unrelated to Evgeniy Kiselev, mentioned previously in this section.
    \127\ Benyumov, ``How Russia's Independent Media Was Dismantled 
Piece by Piece,'' The Guardian,  May 25, 2016.
    \128\ U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights 
Practices for 2016: Russia,  at 23.
    \129\ Ibid.
    \130\ ``Russia's Putin Signs Foreign Agents Media Law,'' Reuters,  
Nov. 25, 2017.
Disinformation and Propaganda
    The use of disinformation and propaganda has long been a 
hallmark of the Kremlin's toolbox to manipulate its own 
citizens. The historical precedent for these tactics stem from 
the Soviet era, when the government routinely utilized 
propaganda to `'suppress any suggestion of the unpleasant and 
reassure the viewer that life in the communist empire was 
peaceful and optimistic.'' \131\ While propaganda inside Russia 
has long cast aspersions on the Western democratic model as a 
counterpoint to Russia's own, the Kremlin's use of 
disinformation and propaganda under Putin has not sought simply 
to keep a lid on unpleasantness at home, but rather to whip up 
anxieties and generate fevered sentiment in support of its 
policies and actions.
    \131\ Joshua Yaffa, ``Dmitry Kiselev Is Redefining the Art of 
Russian Propaganda,'' New Republic,  July 1, 2014.
    To implement its propaganda, Putin's deputies reportedly 
summon chief editors on a regular basis to coordinate the 
Kremlin line on various news and policy items and distribute it 
throughout mainstream media outlets in Moscow.\132\ Driving the 
narrative often requires media partners who have ``created 
myths and explained reality'' in the production of news as well 
as entertainment--often blurring lines between the two to 
ensure that media content fuels enthusiasm for the Kremlin's 
overall narrative.\133\ Russian journalist Arkady Ostrovsky 
quotes one such partner at the helm of leading Russian 
television channel Perviy Kanal, Konstantin Ernst on this 
imperative: ``Our task number two is to inform the country 
about what is going on. Today the main task of television is to 
mobilize the country.'' \134\
    \132\ Bill Powell, ``Pushing The Kremlin Line,'' Newsweek,  May 20, 
    \133\ Ostrovsky, The Invention of Russia,  at 297.
    \134\ Ibid. at 297.
    Propaganda under Putin has played up examples of Western 
failures in an attempt to undermine the credibility of a 
Western-style alternative system of government to Russia's 
corrupt, authoritarian state. Founder of independent television 
outlet Dozhd, Mikhail Zygar, summarizes it this way:

        Russian television doesn't suggest that Russian leaders 
        are any better or less corrupt, or more honest and 
        just, than Western leaders. Rather, it says that 
        everything is the same everywhere. All the world's 
        politicians are corrupt--just look at the revelations 
        in the Panama Papers. Everywhere, human rights are 
        being violated--just look at what American cops do to 
        black people. All athletes dope. All elections are 
        falsified. Democracy doesn't exist anywhere, so give it 
    \135\ Mikhail Zygar, ``Why Putin Prefers Trump,'' Politico,  July 
27, 2016.

    Ginning up cynicism among the Russian population about 
democratic nations also provides a convenient brush with which 
to tar Russia's democratic opposition at home. As Ostrovsky 

        In the weeks before his death, [opposition leader Boris 
        Nemtsov] was demonized on television,'' to great 
        effect. In Moscow street protests at that time, ``hate 
        banners carrying his image were hung on building 
        facades with the words `Fifth column--aliens among us' 
        . . . [marchers] carried signs proclaiming PUTIN AND 
        KADYROV PREVENT MAIDAN IN RUSSIA alongside photographs 
        of Nemtsov identifying him as `the organizer of 
        Maidan.' '' This climate led Nemtsov to assert in an 
        interview hours before his death that Russia was 
        turning into a ``fascist state'' with ``propaganda 
        modeled on Nazi Germany's.\136\
    \136\ Ostrovsky, The Invention of Russia,  at 2; the name 
``Maidan,'' a borrowed word in the Russian and Ukrainian languages that 
refers to an open public space or town square, has been frequently used 
to refer to popular protests and street revolutions in the former 
Soviet space.

    Putin's propaganda machine has asserted a ``moral 
superiority'' over the West, bolstered by a focus on 
traditional values of the state and the Russian Orthodox 
Church.\137\ This was especially useful at home as the 2011-
2012 protests against Putin's return to the presidency gained 
steam, particularly among a relatively secular and urban middle 
class, forcing the Kremlin to appeal to its ``core 
paternalistic and traditionalist electorate.'' \138\ As such, 
state-sponsored media outlets have displayed an unforgiving 
tone for members of Russian society who buck traditional or 
religious mores. In April 2012, for example, the popular, pro-
Kremlin ``News of the Week'' presenter Dmitry Kiselev said that 
gays and lesbians `'should be prohibited from donating blood, 
sperm, and in the case of a road accident, their hearts should 
be either buried or cremated as unsuitable for the prolongation 
of life.'' \139\
    \137\ Chapter 4 for more information on the Russian Orthodox 
Church's role in promoting traditional values abroad.
    \138\ Ostrovsky, The Invention of Russia,  at 312.
    \139\ Joshua Yaffa, ``Dmitry Kiselev Is Redefining the Art of 
Russian Propaganda,'' New Republic,  July 1, 2014.
    State-sponsored media have also doctored the Kremlin's 
image to help justify Russian military incursions into Georgia, 
Ukraine, and Syria to the Russian population. During the 2008 
invasion of Georgia, Ostrovsky notes that ``television channels 
were part of the military operation, waging an essential 
propaganda campaign, spreading disinformation and demonizing 
the country Russia was about to attack.'' \140\ Russian 
television inflated figures of civilian deaths and refugees in 
South Ossetia by the thousands. Alleging genocide, the picture 
that media painted was of the Kremlin ``fighting not a tiny, 
poor country that used to be its vassal but a dangerous and 
powerful aggressor backed by the imperialist West.'' \141\ Six 
years later, these tactics would be taken to new extremes 
during the so-called Euromaidan protests in Ukraine in which 
pro-European protesters railed against the pro-Russian 
government in Kiev, and the subsequent illegal Russian 
occupation of Crimea in 2014. Russian media painted the 
Euromaidan protesters as a collection of ``neo-Nazis, anti-
Semites, and radicals'' staging an American-sponsored coup in 
Kiev.\142\ ``Pass this Oscar to the Russian Channel and to 
Dmitry Kiselev for the lies and nonsense you are telling people 
about Maidan,'' one protester said to a Russian state 
television broadcaster reporting from the Kyiv square, handing 
him a small statue.\143\ The Kremlin's portrayal of its 
September 2015 involvement in the Syria conflict followed a 
similar pattern--a carefully-constructed narrative of Putin as 
the responsible and humanitarian actor who was intervening to 
stop U.S.-generated chaos in the Middle East.\144\ State-
sponsored media painted it as a successful fight against ISIS, 
though facts on the ground indicated that Russian bombs were in 
fact targeting the Syrian opposition to Bashar al-Assad.\145\
    \140\ Ostrovsky, The Invention of Russia,  at 298.
    \141\ Ibid. at 298-99.
    \142\ Ibid. at 315.
    \143\ A.O. ``Russia's Chief Propagandist,'' The Economist,  Dec. 
10, 2013.
    \144\ Ostrovsky, The Invention of Russia,  at 324.
    \145\ Zygar, All the Kremlin's Men,  at 337.
    Russian security services have long collected compromising 
material known as ``kompromat'' on their own citizens and 
disseminated it through friendly, pro-Kremlin media. This 
tactic was instrumental in Putin's 1999 rise to power (see 
Chapter 1) and has continued to be deployed brazenly during his 
tenure to smear opposition activists. For example, the Nashi 
youth group, with Kremlin support, was reportedly behind the 
release of a 2010 video reel showing Victor Shenderovich, a 
prominent satirist and popular host of a television show that 
lampooned Russian officials, having sex with a woman suspected 
to be a Kremlin ``honey trap.'' \146\ The scandal prompted the 
release of information from other liberal media and opposition 
figures who said they had been entrapped by the same 
woman.\147\ In 2016, grainy footage aired on pro-Kremlin 
channel NTV showing former Prime Minister and head of the 
PARNAS liberal opposition party, Mikhail Kasyanov, and another 
Russian opposition activist, Natalia Pelevina, in bed in a room 
together and exchanging criticisms about other members of the 
opposition.\148\ Pelevina claimed that the video must have been 
compiled at Putin's direction to ``destroy'' Kasyanov, whose 
party was contending upcoming parliamentary elections, 
describing it as spliced together from perhaps six months' 
worth of secret footage and edited for maximum effect.\149\
    \146\ Julia Ioffe, ``Bears in a Honey Trap,'' Foreign Policy,  Apr. 
28, 2010.
    \147\ Ibid.
    \148\ Susan Ormiston, ``Sex Tape Scandal Was Work of Putin, Says 
Russian Political Activist Exposed in Video,'' CBC News,  Apr. 9, 2016.
    \149\ Ibid.
    Fake news and internet trolling have been used by the 
Kremlin against Russian citizens and were ramped up 
considerably after the 2011-2012 anti-Putin protests, according 
to investigative reporting by The New York Times. Set on 
reining in social media and online platforms, which were used 
by the opposition to disseminate electoral fraud allegations 
and mobilize protesters, the Kremlin used software to monitor 
public sentiment online and flooded social media with its own 
content, ``paying fashion and fitness bloggers to place pro-
Kremlin material among innocuous posts about shoes and diets.'' 
\150\ Representatives of Alexey Navalny's Anti-Corruption Fund 
lamented to a New York Times journalist about the ``atmosphere 
of hate'' and the proliferation of pro-Kremlin hashtags that 
permeated Russia's Internet space after the protests, which 
clouded their messages with ``so much garbage from trolls'' 
that they became less effective.\151\
    \150\ Adrian Chen, ``The Agency,'' The New York Times, June 2, 
    \151\ Ibid.
    Efforts to crack down on free expression online and via 
social media also picked up renewed steam after Putin's return 
to the presidency. For example, a 2014 law enabled Russian 
authorities to block websites deemed extremist or a threat to 
public order without a court order, resulting in the blockage 
of three major opposition news sites and activist Alexey 
Navalny's blog.\152\ Later that year, in September, Putin 
signed a law requiring non-Russian companies to store all 
domestic data on servers within the Russian Federation, 
ostensibly for data protection, but many observers saw it as an 
effort to tighten control over email and social media 
networks.\153\ When the law took effect in 2015, some foreign 
companies refused to immediately comply. In response, Russian 
authorities ordered internet service providers in the country 
to block LinkedIn for non-compliance and threatened to shut 
down Facebook in 2018 if it did not comply.\154\ Russian 
security services also ratcheted up influence over widely used 
Russian social media platform VKontakte--which has a broad user 
base in Russia as well as in Ukraine and other parts of the 
former Soviet space--pressuring its chief executive to reveal 
information on Euromaidan protesters in Ukraine and anti-
corruption activists in Russia. Upon refusal, the CEO was 
fired, leaving the company in the control of Kremlin-friendly 
    \152\ ``Russia Censors Media By Blocking Websites and Popular 
Blog,'' The Guardian,  Mar. 14, 2014.
    \153\ U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights 
Practices for 2014: Russia,  at 33; Alexei Anishchuk, ``Russia Passes 
Law to Force Websites onto Russian Servers,'' Reuters,  July 4, 2014; 
Glenn Kates, ``Russia's `Cheburashka' Internet? Probably Not, But Here 
Are Some Other Options,'' Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty,  May 6, 
    \154\ Ilya Khrennikov, ``Russia Threatens to Shut Facebook Over 
Local Data Storage Laws,'' Bloomberg Technology,  Sept. 26, 2017.
    \155\ Andrei Soldatov & Irina Borogan, The Red Web: The Kremlin's 
War on the Internet,  PublicAffairs, at 291-294 Sept. 2015.
    In addition, the Kremlin has, though at times clumsily, 
sought greater control of the internet space inside Russia as 
another way to surveil and restrict potential threats to its 
power. In the late 1990s, during Putin's FSB tenure, the 
government reportedly took steps to reinvigorate a Soviet-era 
surveillance mechanism called the System of Operative Search 
Measures (SORM) for the internet era. This SORM-2 aimed to 
intercept email, internet traffic, mobile calls, and voice-over 
internet protocols.\156\ The new system required Russian 
Internet service providers to ``install a device on their 
lines, a black box that would connect the internet provider to 
the FSB. It would allow the FSB to silently and effortlessly 
eavesdrop on emails, which had become the main method of 
communication on the internet by 1998.'' \157\ Despite initial 
resistance from some service providers when news of the plan 
was leaked, ultimately most companies complied with its 
provisions.\158\ Observers have noted that SORM-2 also expanded 
Kremlin capacity to surveil financial transactions, providing 
Putin ``with a complete view of what the Russian political and 
economic elite was doing with its money.''\159\ According to an 
investigation by the Associated Press, the Kremlin has also 
directed state-sponsored hackers to infiltrate the email 
accounts of political opponents, dozens of journalists, and at 
least one hundred civil society figures inside Russia--a signal 
of tactics it would later use against international targets. 
Its domestic target list includes Mikhail Khodorkovsky, members 
of Pussy Riot, and Alexey Navalny.\160\
    \156\ Andrei Soldatov & Irina Borogan, ``Inside the Red Web: 
Russia's Back Door Onto the Internet--Extract,'' The Guardian,  Sept. 
8, 2015.
    \157\ Ibid.
    \158\ Jen Tracy, ``Who Reads Your E-mail?,'' Moscow Times,  Mar. 
16, 1999.
    \159\ Samuel A. Greene, ``Book Review: Andrei Soldatov & Irina 
Borogan's `The Red Web,' '' Open Democracy,  Sep. 8, 2015.
    \160\ Raphael Satter et al., ``Russia Hackers Pursued Putin Foes, 
Not Just US Democrats,'' Associated Press,  Nov. 2, 2017.


    When news of the so-called ``Panama Papers'' broke in 2016, 
shining a light on corruption networks around the globe, a 
Russian cellist named Sergey Rodulgin found himself center 
stage. The documents alleged that Rodulgin, an old friend of 
Putin's, was tied to offshore companies valued at $2 billion 
that are suspected fronts for stashing pilfered wealth.\161\ 
The documents allegedly showed that Rodulgin directly holds as 
much as $100 million in assets--a surprising figure for a 
professional cellist.\162\ When pressed to respond to the 
papers, both Putin and Rodulgin attributed the latter's wealth 
to his successful philanthropic efforts collecting donations 
from Russian businessmen for the purchase of fine rare 
instruments for Russian students' use. ``There's nothing to 
catch me out on here,'' said Rodulgin. ``I am indeed rich; I am 
rich with the talent of Russia.'' \163\ In fact, the estimated 
$24 billion that Putin's inner circle of friends and family 
controls is mostly drawn from business with state-controlled 
companies, particularly in the oil and gas sector.\164\ An 
October 2017 report, jointly compiled by the Organized Crime 
and Corruption Project (the investigative network which helped 
to bring the Panama Papers to light) and Russian newspaper 
Novaya Gazeta, details the wealth of several members of Putin's 
inner circle and notes that, ``Though they hold enormous 
assets, they stay out of the public eye, seem largely unaware 
of their own companies, and are at pains to explain the origins 
of their wealth,'' suggesting these individuals are ``proxies'' 
for holding resources that Putin may have amassed.\165\
    \161\ Shaun Walker, ``Russian Cellist Says Funds Revealed in Panama 
Papers Came From Donations,'' The Guardian,  Apr. 10, 2016.
    \162\ Ibid.
    \163\ Ibid.
    \164\ The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, Putin 
and the Proxies,  https://www.occrp.org/en/putinandtheproxies, Oct. 24, 
    \165\ Ibid.
    The wealth that Putin may have accumulated for himself is 
the tip of a larger iceberg of crony capitalism in Russia that 
``has turned loyalists into billionaires whose influence over 
strategic sectors of the economy has in turn helped [Putin] 
maintain his iron-fisted grip on power.''\166\ This political-
economic ecosystem is distinct from the Yeltsin era, when many 
oligarchs independently built fortunes out of the chaos of the 
Soviet Union's collapse and thus represented potential 
political threats to the government. The Russian population, 
beset by the economic tumult of the 1990s, grew to resent the 
entrepreneurial oligarchs and their individual gains, often 
made through unscrupulous means.\167\ As Putin took power, he 
seized on this resentment to assert the importance of the state 
over the individual. The new class of ``bureaucrat-
entrepreneurs'' that emerged, former Soviet apparatchiks drawn 
disproportionately from the ranks of the security services, 
were rewarded with ``complete power over any individual'' and a 
helping of corrupt profits as long as they served state 
interests and remained loyal to the top of this pyramid 
scheme--Putin himself.\168\ As Putin gained, so too did his 
loyalists, helping to reinforce the system and deter jealous 
challengers to his rule.
    \166\ Steven Lee Myers et al., ``Private Bank Fuels Fortunes of 
Putin's Inner Circle,'' The New York Times, Sept. 27, 2014.
    \167\ Ostrovsky, The Invention of Russia,  at 307.
    \168\ Ibid.
    Many of these insiders trace their relationships with Putin 
back to a cooperative he joined in the mid-1990s with seven 
other owners of modest vacation homes a few hours outside of 
St. Petersburg, which they named Ozero (``Lake''). Putin 
carefully cultivated and relied on these bonds during his rise 
to power. He helped one such individual, Yury Kovalchuk, to 
take ownership in the early 1990s of a small firm, Bank 
Rossiya, whose shareholders included other members of the Ozero 
cooperative (see Chapter 4 for more on the Ozero cooperative 
and Bank Rossiya).\169\ With Kremlin help to steer lucrative 
customers its way, obtain state-owned enterprises at bargain-
basement prices, and obscure its financial holdings through 
murky transactions and shell companies, Bank Rossiya grew 
exponentially, and along the way also amassed significant media 
holdings that helped the Kremlin influence public 
perceptions.\170\ Putin has similarly relied on other 
longstanding friends, such as his former judo sparring partner 
Arkady Rotenberg, who controls shadow companies that allegedly 
made huge payments into Putin's business network, including a 
loan to an offshore company controlled by Bank Rossiya with no 
apparent repayment schedule.\171\
    \169\ Jake Bernstein et al., ``All Putin's Men: Secret Records 
Reveal Money Network Tied to Russian Leader,'' The Panama Papers,  Apr. 
3, 2016.
    \170\ Steven Lee Myers et al., ``Private Bank Fuels Fortunes of 
Putin's Inner Circle,'' The New York Times, Sept. 27, 2014.
    \171\ Jake Bernstein et al., ``All Putin's Men: Secret Records 
Reveal Money Network Tied to Russian Leader,'' The Panama Papers, Apr. 
3, 2016.
    A number of these insiders have become the targets of 
international sanctions after the Russian invasion and illegal 
annexation of Crimea in 2014. Powerful Russian government 
operators have also been the target of U.S. sanctions under the 
Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012, which 
requires the United States government to sanction Russian 
officials connected to the violent death in detention of lawyer 
and whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky, as well as other officials 
who are gross violators of human rights in Russia.\172\ As of 
the end of 2017, the U.S. government had sanctioned a total of 
49 individuals under the Russia-related Magnitsky Act and 569 
individuals or entities under existing Ukraine-related 
sanctions.\173\ The Ukraine-related sanctions list in 
particular reads like a who's-who of Putin insiders: Arkady 
Rotenberg, Putin's childhood friend, along with Rotenberg's 
brother Boris and nephew Roman; Yury Kovalchuk, Vladimir 
Yakunin, and Andrei Fursenko of the Ozero cooperative and 
Kovalchuk's nephew Kirill Kovalchuk; Kremlin insiders Vladislav 
Surkov and Vyacheslav Volodin; Rosneft chairman and head of the 
Kremlin's `'siloviki'' faction of security officials-turned-
politicians Igor Sechin; billionaire businessman Gennady 
Timchenko; and even Aleksandr Dugin, whose philosophy of 
``Eurasianism'' pushes for Russia to extend an ultra-
nationalist, neo-fascist worldview across the globe.\174\ Putin 
sought to play off the sanctions as a mere annoyance and soften 
the blow through directing kickbacks to those impacted, for 
example by shifting valuable state contracts to Bank Rossiya 
weeks after it was sanctioned.\175\ The Duma also passed a law 
affording tax privileges to sanctioned individuals.\176\ But 
the combination of sanctions and low oil prices have 
nevertheless been a drag on the Russian economy in recent 
years. As The New York Times noted, this has reduced ``the 
country's most privileged players . . . to fighting over slices 
of a smaller economic pie, seeking an advantage over rivals 
through the courts and law enforcement officials who are widely 
seen as vulnerable to corruption.'' \177\
    \172\ Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, P.L. 112-
208, Title IV, Enacted Dec. 14, 2012 (originally introduced by Senator 
Ben Cardin as S. 1039, May 19, 2011).
    \173\  U.S. Treasury Department, Office of Foreign Assets 
Control,``Sanctions List Search,'' https://
sanctionssearch.ofac.treas.gov (search results under Program ``MAGNIT'' 
and the four Ukraine-related Executive Orders, as of Dec. 21, 2017).
    \174\ Ibid.; James Carli, ``Aleksandr Dugin: The Russian Mystic 
Behind America's Weird Far-Right,'' Huffington Post, Sept. 7, 2017.
    \175\ Steven Lee Myers et al., ``Private Bank Fuels Fortunes of 
Putin's Inner Circle,'' The New York Times, Sept. 27, 2014.
    \176\ ``Putin Signs Law Granting Sanctions-Hit Russians Tax 
Breaks,'' Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty,  Apr. 4, 2017.
    \177\ Andrew E. Kramer, ``In Russia, a Bribery Case Lifts the Veil 
on Kremlin Intrigue,'' The New York Times, Oct. 21, 2017.
    The increasing exposure of Putin's network has helped to 
fuel demand for more transparency and questions over the 
assumed inviolability of Putin's leadership. A 50-minute video 
released by Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation in March 2017 
alleging lavish luxury holdings by Prime Minister Dmitry 
Medvedev has generated millions of views on YouTube and was 
seen as instrumental in bringing thousands of Russians to the 
streets in protests during the year.\178\ Moreover, the 
prospect of consequences--whether inside Russia or abroad--for 
the Putin regime's graft and abuses is helping to chip away at 
the culture of impunity that has stymied hopes in Russia for a 
just, secure society governed by the rule of law. In testimony 
to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee nearly two years 
prior to his murder, opposition leader Boris Nemtsov described 
the Magnitsky Act as ``the most pro-Russian law in the history 
of any foreign parliament'' for its capacity to end impunity 
against ``crooks and abusers.'' \179\ Indeed, since the Act's 
passage in 2012, the U.S. Congress has subsequently passed a 
global version of the sanctions that was signed into law in 
2016, and by the end of 2017 the U.S. government had sanctioned 
one Russian individual, Artem Chayka, under this law for 
significant corruption.\180\ Meanwhile, parliaments in Estonia, 
the United Kingdom, and Canada have passed legislation similar 
to the U.S. Magnitsky laws.\181\ Vice Chairman of the Open 
Russia democratic opposition platform Vladimir Kara-Murza has 
urged more expansive application of U.S. and European targeted 
individual sanctions, noting that while the task of building a 
more just Russia lies with the country's own citizens, 
outsiders should not ``enable Mr. Putin and his kleptocrats by 
providing safe harbor for their illicit gains.'' \182\
    \178\ David Filipov, ``Russia Dismisses Sweeping Corruption 
Allegations Against Medvedev,'' The Washington Post,  Mar. 5, 2017.
    \179\ Statement of Boris Nemtsov, Co-Chairman, Republican Party of 
Russia, A Dangerous Slide Backwards: Russia's Deteriorating Human 
Rights Situation, Hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign 
Relations, June 13, 2013.
    \180\ Matthew Pennington, ``U.S. Levies Sanctions Against Myanmar 
General, Dozen Others,'' Associated Press,  Dec. 21, 2017.
    \181\ The Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, P.L. 
114-328, Subtitle F, Title XII, Enacted Dec. 23, 2016 (originally 
introduced by Senator Benjamin L. Cardin as S.284, Jan. 28, 2015); 
``The US Global Magnitsky Act'' Human Rights Watch,  Sept. 13, 2017; 
Mike Blanchfield, ``Canada Passes Magnitsky Human Rights Law, Sparking 
Russian Threats,'' The Canadian Press,  Oct. 18, 2017.
    \182\ Vladimir Kara-Murza, ``Answering the Kremlin's Challenge,'' 
World Affairs Journal (2017).


                  Chapter 3: Old Active Measures and 
                   Modern Malign Influence Operations



    The FBI and CIA were involved in the assassination of 
President John F. Kennedy in 1963. The United States and Israel 
organized an attack on Mecca in 1979. U.S. government 
scientists created the AIDS virus as a biological weapon in 
1983. All of these bogus stories, and many more, were concocted 
and disseminated by Soviet propagandists during the Cold 
War.\183\ Some are even still repeated today. For example, in a 
June 2017 interview, Putin referenced the JFK assassination 
theory to accuse U.S. intelligence agencies of conducting false 
flag operations and blaming them on the Russian secret 
services, saying that ``[t]here is a theory that Kennedy's 
assassination was arranged by the United States special 
services. If this theory is correct, and one cannot rule it 
out, so what can be easier in today's context, being able to 
rely on the entire technical capabilities available to special 
services, than to organize some kind of attacks in the 
appropriate manner while making a reference to Russia in the 
process.'' \184\
    \183\ Fletcher Schoen & Christopher Lamb, Deception, 
Disinformation, and Strategic Communications: How One Interagency Group 
Made a Major Difference,  Institute for National Strategic Studies, at 
4, 20, 34 (June 2012).
    \184\ Vladimir Putin, Interview with Megyn Kelly, NBC,  June 5, 
2017, http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/54688.
    While the technological tools have evolved, Russia's use of 
disinformation is not a new phenomenon--as one Russian military 
intelligence textbook says, ``Psychological warfare has existed 
as long as man himself.'' \185\ During the Cold War, ``active 
measures,'' or disinformation and malign influence operations, 
were ``well integrated into Soviet policy and involved 
virtually every element of the Soviet party and state 
structure, not only the KGB.'' \186\ Russian specialists in 
active measures used official newspapers and radio stations, 
embassies, and foreign communist parties to create and 
distribute false stories. Each state organ would use their own 
capabilities in coordinated campaigns: the KGB was responsible 
for ``black propaganda''--creating forgeries and spreading 
rumors; the International Information Department was 
responsible for ``white propaganda''--broadcasting the stories 
through official media organizations; and the International 
Department was responsible for ``gray propaganda''--
disseminating the stories through international front 
organizations.\187\ And they were intently focused on their 
target audience: as one Soviet disinformation practitioner put 
it, ``every disinformation message must at least partially 
correspond to reality or generally accepted views.'' \188\ 
Active measures also sought to take advantage of pre-existing 
fissures to further polarize the West. As Colonel Rolf 
Wagenbreth, long-time head of active measures operations for 
the East German Stasi, reportedly said, ``A powerful adversary 
can only be defeated through . . .  . sophisticated, 
methodical, careful, and shrewd effort to exploit even the 
smallest `cracks' between our enemies . . . and within their 
elites.'' \189\
    \185\ Alexey Kovalev & Matthew Bodner, ``The Secrets of Russia's 
Propaganda War, Revealed,'' The Moscow Times,  Mar. 1, 2017.
    \186\ Thomas Boghardt, ``Soviet Bloc Intelligence and Its AIDS 
Disinformation Campaign,'' Studies in Intelligence,  Vol. 53, No. 4, at 
1-2 (Dec. 2009).
    \187\ Ibid. at 3.
    \188\ Ibid. at 2.
    \189\ Statement of Thomas Rid, Professor, Department of War 
Studies, King's College London, Disinformation: A Primer in Russian 
Active Measures and Influence Campaigns,  Hearing before the U.S. 
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Mar. 30, 2017, at 2 (citing 
Gunther Bohnsack, Herbert Brehmer, Auftrag Irrefuhrung, Carlsen, at 16 
    Opinions on the effectiveness of Soviet active measures 
varied among U.S. national security experts. During the Reagan 
Administration, Under Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger 
and Deputy CIA Director Robert Gates argued that the operations 
were ``deleterious but generally not decisive,'' although, 
according to Gates, who cited the Dutch decision on deployment 
of intermediate range nuclear weapons and Spain's referendum on 
NATO participation, ``in a close election or legislative 
battle, they can make the difference.'' \190\
    \190\ Schoen & Lamb, Deception, Disinformation, and Strategic 
Communications, at 104.
    Soviet bloc disinformation operations were not a rare 
occurrence: more than 10,000 were carried out over the course 
of the Cold War.\191\ In the 1970s, Yuri Andropov, then head of 
the KGB, created active measures courses for operatives, and 
the KGB had up to 15,000 officers working on psychological and 
disinformation warfare at the height of the Cold War.\192\ The 
CIA estimated that the Soviet Union spent more than $4 billion 
a year on active measures operations in the 1980s 
(approximately $8.5 billion in 2017 dollars). And then, as now 
with the Kremlin, ``the highest level of the Soviet 
government'' approved the themes of active measures 
    \191\ Statement of Thomas Rid, Disinformation: A Primer in Russian 
Active Measures and Influence Campaigns,  at 2.
    \192\ ``The Fog Of Wars: Adventures Abroad Boost Public Support at 
Home,'' The Economist,  Oct. 22, 2016.
    \193\ ``Soviet Active Measures in the United States, 1986-87; 
Prepared by the Federal Bureau of Investigation,'' reprinted in the 
Congressional Record, 133 Cong. Rec. H34262 (Dec. 9, 1987) (statement 
of Rep. C.W. Bill Young).
    Active measures campaigns in the 1980s focused on 
influencing the arms control and disarmament movements, for 
example, by promoting the European peace movement in countries 
that were scheduled to base U.S. intermediate-range nuclear 
forces. That campaign made use of the West German Communist 
Party, the Dutch Communist Party, the Belgian National Action 
Committee for Peace and Development, the World Peace Council, 
and the International Union of Students, among others.\194\ In 
addition to political parties and peace organizations, the 
Soviet Union also used the Russian Orthodox Church and an 
affiliate of the Soviet-backed Christian Peace Conference to 
influence American churches, religious organizations, and 
religious leaders.\195\
    \194\ Directorate of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, 
``Soviet Strategy to Derail US INF Deployment,'' Feb. 1983.
    \195\ ``Soviet Active Measures in the United States, 1986-87; 
Prepared by the Federal Bureau of Investigation,'' reprinted in the 
Congressional Record, 133 Cong. Rec. H34262.
    Soviet active measures also attempted to influence 
elections in the West during the Cold War, though without much 
success. Efforts to defeat Chancellor Helmut Kohl in West 
Germany's 1983 election included ``a massive propaganda 
campaign of interference,'' according to the German government 
at the time. That same year, KGB agents in the United States 
were ordered ``to acquire contacts on the staff of all possible 
presidential candidates and in both party headquarters . . . 
[and] to popularize the slogan `Reagan Means War!' '' \196\ The 
KGB's efforts notwithstanding, Reagan won 49 of 50 states in 
the 1984 election. Disinformation campaigns also smeared FBI 
director J. Edgar Hoover and Senator Henry ``Scoop'' Jackson, 
both implacable anti-communists, with rumors to the media about 
their sexual orientation--a tactic that would resurface many 
decades later during the 2017 French presidential 
    \196\ Andrew Weiss, ``Vladimir Putin's Political Meddling Revives 
Old KGB Tactics,'' The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 17, 2017.
    \197\ Ibid.


    Today, the Kremlin's malign influence operations employ 
state and non-state resources to achieve their ends, including 
the security services, television stations and pseudo news 
agencies, social media and internet trolls, public and private 
companies, organized crime groups, think tanks and special 
foundations, and social and religious groups.\198\ These 
efforts have ``weaponized'' four spheres of activity: 
traditional and social media, ideology and culture, crime and 
corruption, and energy. Disinformation campaigns are used to 
discredit politicians and democratic institutions like 
elections and independent media.
    \198\ Last year, the European Parliament passed a resolution 
recognizing the wide range of tools and instruments that Russia uses to 
disseminate disinformation and propaganda. See European Parliament 
Resolution, ``EU Strategic Communication to Counteract Anti-EU 
Propaganda by Third Parties,'' 2016/2030(INI), Nov. 23, 2016.
    Cultural, religious, and political organizations are used 
to repeat the Kremlin's narrative of the day and disrupt social 
    Corruption is used to influence politicians and infiltrate 
decision-making bodies.
    And energy resources are used to cajole and coerce 
vulnerable foreign governments. The Kremlin coordinates these 
multi-platform efforts from within the Presidential 
Administration, which controls the FSB and the Foreign 
Intelligence Service (SVR), among many other agencies, and is 
described by observers as ``perhaps the most important single 
organ within Russia's highly de-institutionalized state.'' 
    \199\ Mark Galeotti, Controlling Chaos: How Russia Manages its 
Political War in Europe,  European Council on Foreign Relations, at 1 
(Aug. 2017).
    While the Russian government supplies many of the resources 
for these efforts, Kremlin-linked oligarchs are also believed 
to help fund malign influence operations in Europe.\200\
    \200\ Committee Staff Discussion with Russian Human Rights 
Activists, May 2017.
    Furthermore, the Kremlin's efforts attempt to exploit the 
advantages of democratic societies. As the former president of 
Estonia put it, ``[W]hat they do to us we cannot do to them  
Liberal democracies with a free press and free and fair 
elections are at an asymmetric disadvantage . . . the tools of 
their democratic and free speech can be used against them.'' 
\201\ The Russian government's work to destabilize European 
governments often start with attempts to build influence and 
exploit divisions at the local level. According to the Office 
of the Director of National Intelligence:
    \201\ Sheera Frenkel, ``The New Handbook for Cyberwar Is Being 
Written By Russia,'' BuzzFeed News,  Mar. 19, 2017 (citing former 
Estonian President Toomas Hendrick Ilves).

        Russia's influence campaign is built on longstanding 
        practices. Moscow has been opportunistic in its efforts 
        to strengthen Russian influence in Europe and Eurasia 
        by developing affiliations with and deepening financial 
        or political connections to like-minded political 
        parties and Non-governmental Organizations. Moscow 
        appears to use monetary support in combination with 
        other tools of Russian statecraft, including propaganda 
        in local media, direct lobbying by the Russian 
        Government, economic pressure, and military 
    \202\ Director of National Intelligence, Assessment on Funding of 
Political Parties and Nongovernmental Organizations by the Russian 
Federation, pursuant to the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY2016, 
(P.L. No. 114-113).

    The U.S. State Department reports that the Kremlin's 
efforts to influence elections and referendums in Europe 
include ``overt and covert support for far left and right 
political parties, funding front groups and NGOs, and making 
small, low-profile investments in key economic sectors to build 
political influence over time,'' and that its tactics ``focus 
on exploiting internal discord in an effort to break centrist 
consensus on the importance of core institutions.'' \203\ An 
analysis by the German Marshall Fund's Alliance for Securing 
Democracy found that the Russian government has used 
cyberattacks, disinformation, and financial influence campaigns 
to meddle in the internal affairs of at least 27 European and 
North American countries since 2004.\204\ As one Russian expert 
puts it, the Russian government's methods to pursue its goals 
abroad are ``largely determined by the correlation between the 
strength of the countries' national institutions and their 
vulnerability to Russian influence.'' \205\ Whereas in what 
Russia considers its ``near abroad,'' composed of the former 
Soviet Union countries, the Kremlin's goal is to exert control 
over pliant governments or weaken pro-Western leaders, in the 
rest of Europe it primarily seeks to undermine NATO and the EU, 
while amplifying existing political and social discord.\206\ 
The Kremlin also acts with more boldness in its near abroad 
than it does in NATO and EU states. But it still deploys its 
full range of malign influence tools throughout the rest of 
Europe and, increasingly, beyond Europe's borders. These 
operations require relatively small investments, but history 
has shown that they can have outsized results, if conditions 
    \203\ U.S. Department of State, Report to Congress on Efforts by 
the Russian Federation to Undermine Elections in Europe and Eurasia, 
Pursuant to the Countering America's Adversaries through Sanctions Act 
of 2017 (P.L. 115-44), Nov. 7, 2017.
    \204\ Oren Dorell, ``Alleged Russian Political Meddling Documented 
in 27 Countries Since 2004,'' USA Today,  Sept. 7, 2017. The countries 
included Belarus, Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, 
Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, 
Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Portugal, 
Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom, Ukraine, and the United States.
    \205\ Mark Galeotti, Controlling Chaos: How Russia Manages Its 
Political War in Europe,  European Council on Foreign Relations, Sept. 
1, 2017.
    \206\ Alina Polyakova et al. The Kremlin's Trojan Horses,  Atlantic 
Council, at 4 (Nov. 2016).
    New technologies, updated policy priorities, and a 
resurgent brashness in the Kremlin and among its oligarch 
allies have converged to enable an expanded range of 
disinformation operations in Europe. According to a resolution 
adopted by the European Parliament in November 2016, have the 
goal of ``distorting truths, provoking doubt, dividing Member 
states, engineering a strategic split between the European 
Union and its North American partners and paralyzing the 
decision-making process, discrediting the EU institutions and 
transatlantic partnerships'' and ``undermining and eroding the 
European narrative.'' \207\ Whereas the Kremlin's propaganda 
inside of Russia glorifies the regime, outside of Russia, it 
aims to exploit discontent and grievances. Notably, the 
Kremlin's disinformation operations do not necessarily try to 
convince foreign audiences that the Russian point of view is 
the correct one. Rather, they seek to confuse and distort 
events that threaten Russia's image (including historical 
events), undercut international consensus on Russia's behavior 
at home and abroad, and present Russia as a responsible and 
indispensable global power. Challenging others' facts is 
simpler than the propaganda advanced by the Soviet Union--it is 
much harder to convince people that the harvest doubled in 
their local area than it is to plant doubt about what is 
happening thousands of miles away.
    \207\ ``European Parliament Resolution of 23 November 2016 on EU 
Strategic Communication to Counteract Propaganda against it by Third 
Parties,'' 2016/2030(INI), Nov. 23, 2016.
    Ben Nimmo of the Center for European Policy Analysis has 
characterized the Kremlin's propaganda efforts as four simple 
tactics: dismiss the critic, distort the facts, distract from 
the main issue, and dismay the audience.\208\ At their core, 
the Kremlin's disinformation operations seek to challenge the 
concept of objective truth. As the CEO of the U.S. Broadcasting 
Board of Governors (BBG), John Lansing, put it, Kremlin 
messaging is ``really almost beyond a false narrative. It's 
more of a strategy to establish that there is no such thing as 
an empirical fact. Facts are really what is being challenged 
around the world.'' \209\
    \208\ Edward Lucas and Ben Nimmo, Information Warfare: What Is It 
and How to Win It? Center for European Policy Analysis (Nov. 2015).
    \209\ Rachel Oswald, ``Reality Rocked: Info Wars Heat Up Between 
U.S. and Russia,'' CQ,  June 12, 2017.
    For Putin and the Kremlin, the truth is not objective fact; 
the truth is whatever will advance the interests of the current 
regime. Today, that means whatever will delegitimize Western 
democracies and distract negative attention away from the 
Russian government. It means subverting the notion of 
verifiable facts and casting doubt on the veracity of all 
information, regardless of the source--as Lansing also put it, 
``If everything is a lie, then the biggest liar wins.'' \210\ 
Sometimes, it means going so far as using an image from a 
computer game as evidence of U.S. misdeeds, as Russia's Defense 
Ministry did in November 2017 when it posted a screenshot from 
a promotional video of a computer game called ``AC-130 Gunship 
Simulator: Special Ops Squadron'' on social media and claimed 
that it was ``irrefutable proof that the US provides cover for 
ISIS combat troops, using them for promoting American interests 
in the Middle East.'' \211\
    \210\ Testimony of John Lansing, CEO and Director of the 
Broadcasting Board of Governors, The Scourge of Russian Disinformation, 
 Hearing Before the Committee on Security and Cooperation in Europe, 
Sept. 14, 2017, at 3.
    \211\ ``Computer Game as `Irrefutable Proof','' EU vs. Disinfo,  
Nov. 15, 2017. The image also appeared on a government-sponsored TV 
station, presented as a news story. The ``EU versus Disinformation'' 
campaign is an anti-disinformation effort run by the European External 
Action Service East StratCom Task Force, created in response to the 
EU's calls to challenge Russia's ongoing disinformation campaigns. See 
Chapter 7.
    The Kremlin's disinformation operations rapidly deliver a 
high volume of stories, creating, in the words of two RAND 
Corporation researchers, a ``firehose of falsehood.'' \212\ 
They note that direct and systematic efforts to counter these 
operations are made difficult by the vast array of mechanisms 
and platforms that the Kremlin employs.\213\ What's more, 
disproving a false story takes far more time and effort than 
creating one does, and, as the false story was the first one to 
be seen by audiences (and possibly repeatedly across multiple 
platforms), it may have already made a strong impression. In 
the meantime, while the fact-checkers are busy disproving one 
story, the Kremlin's propagandists can put out ten more. As the 
RAND scholars note, ``don't expect to counter the firehose of 
falsehood with the squirt gun of truth.'' \214\
    \212\ Christopher Paul & Miriam Matthews, The Russian ``Firehose of 
Falsehood'' Propaganda Model,  Rand Corporation, at 9 (2016).
    \213\ Ibid.
    \214\ Ibid.
    That being said, there are some methods of countering 
propaganda that can reduce the effectiveness of false stories, 
including being warned upon initial exposure that the story may 
be false, repeated exposure to a refutation, and seeing 
corrections that provide a complete alternative story, which 
can fill the gap created by the removal of the false facts. The 
RAND analysts also recommend not just countering the actual 
propaganda, but its intended effects. For example, if the 
Kremlin is trying to undercut support for a strong NATO 
response to Russian aggression, then the West should promote 
narratives that strengthen support for NATO and promote 
solidarity with NATO members facing threats from Russia.\215\ 
Such a response is far more complicated, however, when Russian 
disinformation is not just intended to promote Putin or Russian 
policies, but rather to exacerbate existing divides on hot-
button social and political issues like race, religion, 
immigration, and more.
    \215\ Ibid. at 10 (2016).


    The Kremlin employs an array of media platforms and tools 
to craft and amplify its narratives. The Russian government's 
main external propaganda outlets are RT, which focuses on 
television news programming, and Sputnik, a radio and internet 
news network. RT and Sputnik target a diverse audience: both 
far-right and far-left elements of Western societies, 
environmentalists, civil rights activists, and minorities.
    While the stated purpose of these state-owned media 
networks is to provide an alternative, Russian view of the 
world (in Putin's words, to ``break the monopoly of Anglo-Saxon 
global information streams''), they appear to be more focused 
on popularizing conspiracy theories and defaming the West, and 
seek to foster the impression ``that everyone is lying and that 
there are no unequivocal facts or truths.'' \216\ Part of RT 
and Sputnik's appeal--and an explanation for their apparent 
success--is their high production value and sensational 
content. According to a 2016 study by the RAND Corporation, RT 
and Sputnik are ``more like a blend of infotainment and 
disinformation than fact-checked journalism, though their 
formats intentionally take the appearance of proper news 
programs.'' \217\ Russian media reports have even gone so far 
as conducting fake interviews with actors that are paid to 
pretend they are victims of Ukrainian government 
    \216\ Vladimir Putin, Interview with Margarita Simonyan, RT,  June 
12, 2013; Stefan Meister and Jana Pugleirin, Perception and 
Exploitation: Russia's Non-Military Influence in Europe,  German 
Council on Foreign Relations, (Oct. 2015).
    \217\ Paul and Matthews, The Russian ``Firehose of Falsehood'' 
Propaganda Model, 3Rand Corporation,  at 5, 2016.
    \218\ Ibid.
    RT was launched in 2005 and currently reports in six 
languages: Arabic, English, French, German, Russian, and 
Spanish. The U.S. State Department reports that the Russian 
government spends an estimated $1.4 billion per year on 
disseminating its messaging through various media platforms at 
home and abroad.\219\ In 2016, over $300 million went to RT 
alone.\220\ As a Russian human rights activist put it, the 
Europeans who see RT as an ``alternative'' are similar to the 
left-wing audience--both in Europe and the United States--in 
the 1970s and 1980s who held favorable views of the Soviet 
Union.\221\ Former Secretary of State John Kerry has referred 
to RT as a ``propaganda bullhorn,'' and RT regularly gives 
controversial European political figures a platform on its 
shows and gives disproportionate coverage to the more extreme 
factions of the European Parliament.\222\
    \219\ U.S. Department of State, Report to Congress on Media 
Organizations Controlled and Funded by the Government of the Russian 
Federation (Nov. 7, 2017).
    \220\ ``RT's 2016 Budget Announced, Down from 2015, MSM Too Stumped 
to Spin?'' RT,  May 4, 2016; ``About RT,'' RT, https://www.rt.com/
about-us/, (visited Dec. 6, 2017).
    \221\ Committee Staff Discussion with Russian Human Rights 
    \222\ Brett LoGuirato, ``John Kerry Just Gave Russia A Final 
Warning,'' Business Insider,  Apr. 24, 2014; Office of the Director of 
National Intelligence, Assessment on Funding of Political Parties and 
Nongovernmental Organizations by the Russian Federation, Report to 
Congress Pursuant to the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY2016 
(P.L. No. 114-113). According to a report from the U.S. Office of the 
Director of National Intelligence, RT's editor-in-chief, Margarita 
Simonyan, has close ties to several top officials in the Russian 
government, including the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential 
Administration, Aleksey Gromov, who is one of RT's founders and now 
reportedly manages political TV coverage in Russia. Office of the 
Director of National Intelligence, Assessing Russian Activities and 
Intentions in Recent US Elections'': The Analytic Process and Cyber 
Incident Attribution,  at 9 (Jan. 2017) (``DNI Assessment'')
    RT claims to reach between 500 million and 700 million 
viewers in over 100 countries. However, according to data 
compiled by the BBG, this likely overstates the viewership, as 
it represents the number of households in which RT is 
available, and not the number of households that actually watch 
RT.\223\ As of 2017, RT attracted about 22.5 million Facebook 
followers, and it deftly drives traffic to its platforms with 
human interest stories, cat videos, and pseudo conspiracy 
theories (like op-eds about whether the earth is round or 
flat).\224\ A 2015 analysis found that only one percent of 
videos on RT's YouTube channel were political in nature, while 
its most popular videos were of natural disasters, accidents, 
and crime.\225\
    \223\ BBG Data on Russian International Broadcasting Reach, IBB 
Office of Policy and Research, Broadcasting Board of Governors, June 
2017. For example, BBG data showed that RT and Sputnik combined only 
have a total weekly reach of 2.8 percent of Moldova's population, 1.3 
percent of Belarus's, and 5.3 percent of Serbia's.
    \224\ ``Comparing Russian and American Government `Propaganda','' 
Meduza,  Sept 14, 2017. (Meduza is a Russian online newspaper); Sam 
Gerrans, ``YouTube and the Art of Investigation,'' RT,  Sept. 27, 2015.
    \225\ Katie Zavadski, ``Putin's Propaganda TV Lies About Its 
Popularity,'' The Daily Beast,  Sept. 17, 2015.
    The Moscow Times found that when RT reporters strayed from 
its implicit editorial line, they were told ``this is not our 
angle.'' \226\ Former staff report that RT's editorial line 
comes from the top down, and managers, not editors, choose what 
will be covered and how. For example, when foreign staff 
disagreed with the way that RT was covering Ukraine, they were 
taken off the assignment and Ukraine-related coverage was 
handled by Russian staff.\227\ And those Russian staff are 
mostly ``apathetic or apolitical, with no prior experience in 
journalism''--their primary qualification is fluency in 
English, gained from either linguistic training or being the 
``children of Russian diplomats.'' \228\ All of which reveals 
that, while RT may have a large budget and growing reach, it 
also has several fundamental institutional flaws which limit 
its ability to operate as a professional news organization. In 
the words of one former employee, ``a combination of apathy, a 
lack of professionalism and a dearth of real talent keep RT 
from being more effective than it currently is.'' \229\
    \226\ Matthew Bodner et al., ``Welcome to The Machine: Inside the 
Secretive World of RT,'' The Moscow Times,  June 1, 2017.
    \227\ Ibid.
    \228\ Ibid.
    \229\ Ibid.
    Sputnik is a state-owned network of media platforms 
launched in November 2014 and includes social media, news, and 
radio content; in June 2017, it began operating an FM radio 
station in Washington, D.C.\230\ With an annual budget of $69 
million, the network operates in 31 different languages and 
attracts about 4.5 million Facebook followers.\231\ Like RT, 
Sputnik consistently promotes anti-West narratives that 
undermine support for democracy. A study by the Center for 
European Policy Analysis found that Sputnik ``grant[s] 
disproportionate coverage to protest, anti-establishment and 
pro-Russian [members of the European Parliament from Central 
and Eastern Europe]; that it does so systematically; and that 
even when it quotes mainstream politicians, it chooses comments 
that fit the wider narrative of a corrupt, decadent and 
Russophobic West . . . making `wide use of the protest 
potential' of the legislature to promote the Kremlin's chosen 
messages of disinformation.'' \232\
    \230\ Max Greenwood, ``Russian Radio Takes Over Local DC station,'' 
The Hill,  June 30, 2017.
    \231\ ``Comparing Russian and American government `propaganda','' 
Meduza,  Sept 14, 2017.
    \232\ Ben Nimmo, Propaganda in a New Orbit: Information Warfare 
Initiative Paper No. 2,  Center for European Policy Analysis, at 6 
(Jan. 2016).
    Sputnik is also often used to ``ping pong'' a suspect story 
from lesser-known news sites and into more mainstream press 
outlets.\233\ One well-known example was the purported police 
cover-up of the ``Lisa'' rape case in Germany. After initially 
circulating on Facebook, the story was picked up by Channel 
One, a Russian government-controlled news channel, and then 
covered by RT and Sputnik, which argued the case was not an 
isolated incident. The following week, protests broke out, 
despite the fact the allegations had since been recanted and 
the police investigation had debunked them.\234\ Sputnik also 
reportedly orders its foreign journalists to pursue discredited 
conspiracy theories--it asked one American correspondent to 
explore possible connections between the death of Democratic 
National Committee staffer Seth Rich and the leak of internal 
DNC documents to WikiLeaks, in an attempt to cast doubt on the 
U.S. Director of National Intelligence (DNI) assessment that 
Russian-backed hackers were behind the leak.\235\ And during 
the French presidential elections, Sputnik reported on 
unfounded rumors about the sexual preferences of the pro-EU 
candidate, Emmanuel Macron.\236\
    \233\ ``Ping ponging'' is a technique to raise the profile of a 
story through complementary websites, with the goal of getting the 
mainstream media to pick it up. See Appendix H.
    \234\ Jim Rutenberg, ``RT, Sputnik and Russia's New Theory of 
War,'' The New York Times,  Sept. 13, 2017.
    \235\ Andrew Feinberg, ``My Life at a Russian Propaganda Network,'' 
Politico,  Aug. 21, 2017.
    \236\ ``Ex-French Economy Minister Macron could be `US Agent' 
Lobbying Banks' Interests,'' Sputnik,  Feb. 4, 2017.
    In light of the DNI assessment that RT serves as the 
Kremlin's ``principal propaganda outlet,'' and along with 
Sputnik form Russia's `'state-run propaganda machine'' that 
served as platforms for the Kremlin's efforts to influence the 
2016 U.S. election, RT and Sputnik encountered significant 
pushback in the United States in late 2017.\237\ In November, 
RT complied with an order from the U.S. Department of Justice--
which found that it was engaged in ``political activities'' 
that were ``for or in the interests of'' a foreign principal--
to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act 
(FARA).\238\ Registration requires RT to disclose more of its 
financial information to the U.S. government.\239\ A month 
earlier, Twitter announced that it would no longer allow paid 
advertisements from RT and Sputnik on its platform, citing the 
DNI findings and the company's ongoing review of how its 
platform was used in the 2016 election.\240\ In November 2017, 
Eric Schmidt, the Executive Chairman of Google's parent 
company, reportedly said that the company was working on 
``deranking'' results from RT and Sputnik from its Google News 
product.\241\ However, according to a Google announcement RT 
and Sputnik's sites would not be specifically targeted, but 
rather the company ``adjusted [their] signals to help surface 
more authoritative pages and demote low-quality content,'' 
giving less weight to relevance and more weight to 
    \237\ DNI Assessment at 3.
    \238\ Devlin Barrett and David Filipov, ``RT Files Paperwork With 
Justice Department To Register As Foreign Agent,'' The Washington Post, 
 Nov. 13, 2017; Josh Gerstein, ``DOJ Told RT To Register As Foreign 
Agent Partly Because Of Alleged 2016 Election Interference,'' Politico, 
 Dec. 21, 2017; Letter from U.S. Department of Justice to RTTV America, 
Aug. 17, 2017.
    \239\ See Foreign Agents Registration Act, 22 U.S.C. Sec.  612; 
Megan Wilson, ``Seven Things to Know About RT's Foreign Agent 
Registration,'' The Hill,  Sept. 14, 2017.
    \240\ Twitter Public Policy Company Announcement: ``RT and Sputnik 
Advertising,'' Oct. 26, 2017.
    \241\ Alex Hern, ``Google Plans to `De-Rank' Russia Today and 
Sputnik to Combat Misinformation,'' The Guardian, Nov. 21, 2017 (citing 
Schmidt's remarks at the Halifax International Security Forum, Nov. 18, 
    \242\ ``Our Latest Quality Improvements for Search,'' Google 
Official Blog,  Apr. 25, 2017.
    Beyond RT and Sputnik, the Russian government uses a 
variety of additional tools to amplify and reinforce its 
disinformation campaigns.\243\ Internet ``trolls'' are one such 
tool--individuals who try to derail online debates and amplify 
the anti-West narratives propagated by RT and Sputnik. These 
trolls use thousands of fake social media accounts on Facebook, 
Twitter, and other platforms to attack articles or individuals 
that are critical of Putin and Kremlin policies, spread 
conspiracy theories and pro-Kremlin messages, attack opponents 
of Putin's regime, and drown out constructive debate.\244\
    \243\ The Kremlin wants its propaganda to reach its audiences 
first, and it wants to reach them repeatedly. Experimental psychology 
has shown that first impressions are quite resilient, with individuals 
more likely to accept the first information they receive on a topic 
(the ``illusory truth effect'') and favor that information when 
confronted with conflicting messages. Furthermore, repeated exposure to 
a statement increases the likelihood that someone will accept that it 
is true--especially when they are less interested in the topic--and 
makes them process it less carefully in discriminating weak arguments 
from strong ones. Christopher Paul & Miriam Matthews, The Russian 
``Firehose of Falsehood'' Propaganda Model,'' Rand Corporation, at 4 
    \244\ Stefan Meister & Jama Puglierin, Perception and Exploitation: 
Russia's Non-Military Influence in Europe,  German Council on Foreign 
Relations, at 4 (Sept.-Oct. 2015).
    According to a New York Times investigation, in 2015 
hundreds of young Russians were employed at a ``troll farm'' in 
St. Petersburg known as the Internet Research Agency (IRA), 
where many worked 12-hour shifts in departments focused on 
different social media platforms.\245\ The organization was 
organized in a kind of vertically-integrated supply chain for 
internet news. An NBC interview of a former worker at the IRA, 
Vitaly Bespalov, revealed that workers were highly 
compartmentalized and used to amplify each other's work: the 
third floor held bloggers writing posts to undermine Ukraine 
and promote Russia, on the first floor writers composed news 
articles that referred back to the blog posts created on the 
third floor, and then commenters on the third and fourth floors 
posted remarks about the stories under fake Ukrainian 
identities. Meanwhile, the marketing team worked to package all 
of the misinformation into viral-ready social media 
    \245\ Adrian Chen, ``The Agency,'' The New York Times,  June 2, 
    \246\ Ben Popken & Kelly Cobiella, ``Russian Troll Describes Work 
in the Infamous Misinformation Factory,'' NBC News,  Nov. 16, 2017.
    At the beginning of each shift, workers were reportedly 
given a list of opinions to promulgate and themes to address, 
all related to current events. Over a two-shift period, a 
worker would be expected to publish 5 political posts, 10 
nonpolitical posts (to establish credibility), and 150 to 200 
comments on other workers' posts.\247\ For their labor, they 
made between $800 to $1,000 a month, an attractive wage for 
recent graduates new to the work force.\248\ The professional 
trolls were also provided ``politology'' classes that taught 
them the Russian position on the latest news.\249\ Russian 
media outlets have reported that the IRA was bankrolled by a 
close Putin associate, Evgeny Prigozhin, a wealthy restaurateur 
known as the ``Kremlin's Chef,'' whose network of companies 
have received a number of lucrative government contracts, and 
who was sanctioned by the Obama Administration in December 2016 
for contributing to the conflict in Ukraine.\250\
    \247\ Adrian Chen, ``The Agency,'' The New York Times,  June 2, 
    \248\ ``The Notorious Kremlin-linked `Troll Farm' and the Russians 
Trying to Take it Down,'' The Washington Post,  Oct. 8, 2017.
    \249\ Adrian Chen, ``The Agency,'' The New York Times,  June 2, 
    \250\ David Filipov, ``The Notorious Kremlin-linked `Troll Farm' 
and the Russians Trying to Take it Down,'' The Washington Post,  Oct. 
8, 2017; Thomas Grove and Paul Sonne, ``U.S. Imposes Sanctions on 
Russian Restaurateur With Ties to Putin,'' The Wall Street Journal,  
Dec. 20, 2016.
    According to one former employee, IRA staff on the 
``foreign desk'' were responsible for meddling in other 
countries' elections.\251\ In the run up to the 2016 U.S. 
presidential election, for example, foreign desk staff were 
reportedly trained on ``the nuances of American social polemics 
on tax issues, LGBT rights, the gun debate, and more . . . 
their job was to incite [Americans] further and try to `rock 
the boat.' ''\252\ The employee noted that ``our goal wasn't to 
turn the Americans toward Russia. Our task was to set Americans 
against their own government: to provoke unrest and 
discontent.'' \253\ Based on conversations with Facebook 
officials, it appears that Kremlin-backed trolls pursued a 
similar strategy in the lead up to the 2017 French presidential 
election, and likely before Germany's national election the 
same year.\254\ The IRA also apparently had a separate 
``Facebook desk'' that fought back against the social network's 
efforts to delete fake accounts that the IRA had developed into 
sophisticated profiles.\255\ In addition, in the United States, 
Russian-backed social media accounts linked to the IRA paid for 
advertisements to promote disinformation and encouraged 
protests and rallies on both sides of socially divisive issues, 
such as promoting a protest in Baltimore while posing as part 
of the Black Lives Matter movement.\256\ While the IRA has 
reportedly been inactive since December 2016, a company known 
as Glavset is a reported successor, and other related 
companies, including Teka and the Federal News Agency, may be 
carrying out similar work.\257\
    \251\ ``An Ex St. Petersburg `Troll' Speaks Out: Russian 
Independent TV Network Interviews Former Troll At The Internet Research 
Agency,'' Meduza,  Oct. 15, 2017.
    \252\ Ibid.
    \253\ Ibid.
    \254\ Committee Staff Discussion with Facebook.
    \255\ ``An Ex St. Petersburg `Troll' Speaks Out: Russian 
Independent TV Network Interviews Former Troll at the Internet Research 
Agency,'' Meduza,  Oct. 15, 2017.
    \256\ Luke Broadwater, ``Second Russia-Linked Effort Promoted 
Protests During Trial of Freddie Gray Officers,'' The Baltimore Sun,  
Oct. 12, 2016.
    \257\ Diana Pilipenko, ``Facebook Must `Follow The Money' to 
Uncover Extent Of Russian Meddling,'' The Guardian,  Oct. 9, 2017.
    Many of the fake accounts used to amplify misinformation 
are bots, or automated social media accounts. Bot networks can 
be created or purchased wholesale fairly cheaply on the dark 
web, a part of the internet accessed with special software that 
gives users and operators anonymity, and thus is often used as 
a marketplace for illicit goods and services.\258\ According to 
one report, they can be purchased for as little as $45 for 
1,000 bots with new, unverified accounts, and up to $100 for 
500 phone-verified accounts (which have a unique phone number 
attached to them).\259\ Through automation, bots can spread 
disinformation at high speed and in great numbers, quickly 
amplifying a false story's reach and profile and making it 
trend on social media platforms. For example, during the French 
presidential election, bots were used to spread memes, gifs, 
and disinformation stories about Emmanuel Macron. Bots have 
also been used to attack perceived critics of the Kremlin by 
flooding their accounts with retweets and followers, clogging 
the target's account and possibly resulting in temporary 
suspension from the platform for suspicious activity.\260\
    \258\ Andy Greenberg, ``Hacker Lexicon: What is the Dark Web?'' 
Wired,  Nov. 19, 2014.
    \259\ Joseph Cox, ``I Bought a Russian Bot Army for Under $100,'' 
The Daily Beast,  Sept. 13, 2017.
    \260\ ``The Surprising New Strategy of Pro-Russia Bots,'' BBC 
Trending (BBC News Blog), Sept. 12,2017.
    Kremlin-aligned hackers, supported by trolls, bot networks, 
and friendly propaganda outlets, have also used ``doxing'' to 
great effect. Doxing occurs when hackers break into a network, 
steal proprietary, secret, or incriminating information, and 
then leak it for public consumption.\261\ For example, hackers 
that have been linked to Russian security services attacked the 
World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) after it published a report 
that revealed Russian sports doping, and then released the 
private medical information of American athletes.\262\ During 
the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign, both the 
Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the campaign manager of 
the Democratic presidential candidate were victims of doxing by 
the same Kremlin-backed hackers who attacked WADA in 2016, 
France's TV5Monde in 2015, and Ukraine's election commission in 
    \261\ Bruce Schneier, ``How Long Until Hackers Start Faking Leaked 
Documents?'' The Atlantic,  Sept. 13, 2016.
    \262\ Andy Greenberg, ``Russian Hackers Get Bolder in Anti-Doping 
Agency Attack,'' Wired,  Sept. 14, 2016; see Appendix C.
    \263\ FireEye iSight Intelligence, APT28: At The Center of The 
Storm, Russia Strategically Evolves Its Cyber Operations,  at 4-5 (Jan 
    A new tactic is planting fake documents among the authentic 
ones leaked as part of a doxing operation--the Macron campaign 
alleged that this happened when it was attacked (though in 
addition to the fake documents planted by the hackers, the 
campaign had also created several false email accounts and 
loaded them with fake documents to confuse the hackers and slow 
them down).\264\ Similarly, hackers have previously placed 
child pornography on the computers of Kremlin critics living 
abroad, and then alerted the local police. If the hackers are 
sophisticated enough, it is extremely difficult to discover the 
source of the intrusion, or even whether an intrusion has taken 
place. As the head of one cybersecurity company told The New 
York Times,  ``to use a technical term, you are completely 
screwed. If something like this is sponsored by the Russian 
government, or any government or anyone with sufficient skill, 
you are not going to be successful [in salvaging your 
reputation]. It is terrible.'' \265\ It is not hard to imagine 
similar attacks being carried out on Western politicians who 
have taken a strong position against Putin's regime, and the 
subsequent consequences for their campaigns, careers, and 
    \264\ Adam Nossiter et al., ``Hackers Came, but the French Were 
Prepared,'' The New York Times,  May 9, 2017.
    \265\ Andrew Higgins, ``Foes of Russia Say Child Pornography Is 
Planted to Ruin Them,'' The New York Times,  Dec. 9, 2016.
    Combining all of these tools together, the Kremlin can 
ensure that its disinformation operations are seen early, 
often, and widely. Furthermore, disinformation efforts can now 
take advantage of increasingly powerful analytics that identify 
``customer sentiment,'' allowing them to target the most 
susceptible and vulnerable audiences. In the case of the United 
States, Kremlin-backed propagandists and internet trolls sought 
not just to promote the Kremlin's narratives, but also to 
advance divisive narratives that further erode social cohesion. 
In the words of Germany's intelligence chief, the aim is simply 
to delegitimize the democratic process, ``no matter whom they 
help get ahead.'' \266\ Such efforts are both harder to detect 
than traditional propaganda and, arguably, more dangerous to 
the target society.
    \266\ Esther King, ``Russian Hackers Targeting Germany: 
Intelligence Chief,'' Politico, Nov. 29, 2016.


              Chapter 4: Weaponization of Civil Society, 
                  Ideology, Culture, Crime, and Energy


    Pushing fake news stories with Internet trolls and slickly 
produced infotainment has proved an effective tool for 
promoting the Russian government's objectives in Europe, and 
one it can deploy from a distance. But the Kremlin also 
benefits from having ideological boots on the ground. The 
Soviets supposedly referred to extreme left activists and 
politicians in the West as ``useful idiots''--people who the 
former Soviet Union could count on to agitate against its 
democratic enemies. Today, the Kremlin applies a far less 
restrictive ideological filter to its useful idiots, and has 
also embraced and cultivated a menagerie of right wing, 
nationalist groups in Europe and further abroad.
    These agents of influence abroad can be separated into 
three distinct tiers, according to an April 2016 study by 
Chatham House, a UK think tank:

   1. Major state federal agencies, large state-affiliated 
            grant-making foundations, and private charities 
            linked to Russian oligarchs;

   2. Trusted implementing partners and local associates like 
            youth groups, think tanks, associations of 
            compatriots, veterans' groups, and smaller 
            foundations that are funded by the state 
            foundations, presidential grants, or large 
            companies loyal to the Kremlin; and

   3. Groups that share the Kremlin's agenda and regional 
            vision but operate outside of official cooperation 
            channels--these groups often promote an ``ultra-
            radical and neo-imperial vocabulary'' and run youth 
            paramilitary camps.\267\
    \267\ Orysia Lutsevych, Agents of the Russian World: Proxy Groups 
in the Contested Neighbourhood,  Chatham House, at 10 (Apr. 2016).


    The Kremlin funds, directly or indirectly, a number of 
government-organized non-governmental organizations (GONGOs), 
non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and think tanks 
throughout Russia and Europe. These groups carry out a number 
of functions, from disseminating pro-Kremlin views to seeking 
to influence elections abroad.
    Following a series of ``color revolutions'' in former 
Soviet Union republics like Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, in 2006 the 
Russian government established the World Coordination Council 
of Russian Compatriots, which is responsible for coordinating 
the activities of Russian organizations abroad and their 
communications with the Kremlin.\268\ Some GONGOs that receive 
and disburse funds from the Kremlin, such as the Russkiy Mir 
Foundation and Rossotrudnichestvo, established in 2007 and 
2008, are headquartered in Russia but have branches throughout 
the EU, and are led by senior Russian political figures like 
the foreign minister or the chair of the foreign affairs 
committee of the upper house of the parliament.\269\ Kremlin-
linked oligarchs also sit on the boards of many of the 
GONGOs.\270\ Based on conservative estimates from publicly 
available data, the Kremlin spends about $130 million a year 
through foundations like Rossotrudnichestvo and the Gorchakov 
fund, and, in 2015, channeled another $103 million in 
presidential grants to NGOs; after including support from state 
enterprises and private companies, however, actual funding 
levels may be much higher.\271\ Most of the Russian 
government's funding is focused on post-Soviet `'swing states'' 
like Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, and Armenia, but Kremlin-
supported groups also operate in the Baltic states and the 
Balkans, especially Serbia and Bulgaria.\272\
    \268\ Vladislava Vojtiskova et al., The Bear in Sheep's Clothing: 
Russia's Government-Funded Organisations in the EU,  Wilfried Martens 
Centre for European Studies, at 34 (July 2016).
    \269\ Ibid.
    \270\ Ibid. at 11.
    \271\ Orysia Lutsevych, Agents of the Russian World: Proxy Groups 
in the Contested Neighbourhood,  Chatham House, at 11 (Apr. 2016).
    \272\ Ibid. at 12.
    Some Russian government-funded groups are used to gain 
sympathy for the Kremlin's narrative in academic circles 
abroad. One example is the Valdai Discussion Club, a Russian 
government-funded think tank, which is based in Russia but has 
branches in the EU.\273\ Some analysts assert that the Kremlin 
uses Valdai to co-opt Western experts and academics, who Lilia 
Shevtsova of the Brookings Institution believes then ``pull 
their punches when writing about Putin. Experts who go want to 
be close to power and are afraid of losing their access. Some 
might believe they can use Valdai as a platform for criticism, 
but in reality their mere presence at the event means they are 
already helping legitimize the Kremlin.'' \274\
    \273\ Vladislava Vojtiskova et al., The Bear in Sheep's Clothing,  
at 11.
    \274\ Peter Pomerantsev & Micahel Weiss, The Menace of Unreality: 
How the Kremlin Weaponizes Information, Culture and Money,  Institute 
of Modern Russia, at 21 (Nov. 2014).
    Other Kremlin-funded think tanks have allegedly attempted 
to influence elections abroad. The Russian Institute for 
Strategic Research (RISS) is a Kremlin think tank based in 
Moscow that has offices throughout the country, including a 
Baltic Regional Information-Analytical Center in the exclave of 
Kaliningrad (the Baltic states are a particular focus for the 
Kremlin's malign influence operations).\275\ RISS, which was 
established by Putin and is mostly staffed with ex-intelligence 
officers, has been accused by Kremlin opponents of seeking to 
prevent Montenegro's accession to NATO, dissuade Sweden from 
enhancing its ties with the alliance, and influence a national 
election in Bulgaria (see Chapter 5).\276\ According to current 
and former U.S. officials, RISS also reportedly developed a 
plan to `'swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald 
Trump and undermine voters' faith in the American electoral 
system.'' \277\ However, more than a few scholars and 
independent journalists doubt the efficacy of RISS, with one 
commenting that ``these guys (average age: 70) couldn't have 
possibly game-planned making a sandwich, let alone rigging [the 
U.S. election].'' \278\ Such opinions are likely based on some 
of RISS's other work, such as a study which reportedly claimed 
that condoms were one of the factors spreading HIV in 
    \275\ Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, ``About,'' https://
en.riss.ru/about (visited Dec. 15, 2017).
    \276\ Ivan Nechepurenko, ``Kremlin Group Employing Ex-Spies Is 
Viewed Abroad as Propaganda Mill,'' The New York Times,  Apr. 20, 2017; 
Neil MacFarquhar, ``A Powerful Russian Weapon: The Spread of False 
Stories,'' The New York Times,  Aug. 28, 2016.
    \277\ Ned Parker et al., ``Putin-Linked Think Tank Drew Up Plan to 
Sway 2016 US Election-Documents,'' Reuters,  Apr. 19, 2017.
    \278\ Ivan Nechepurenko, ``Kremlin Group Employing Ex-Spies Is 
Viewed Abroad as Propaganda Mill,'' The New York Times,  Apr. 20, 2017.
    \279\ ``Kremlin Experts Blame Condoms for Russian HIV Epidemic,'' 
The Moscow Times,  May 31, 2016.
    Other think tanks and GONGOs in Europe that promote the 
Kremlin's narrative have opaque funding structures that hide 
potential sources of support. A 2017 report published by the 
Swedish Defense Research Agency noted that ``much of the 
funding that these GONGOs receive from commercial entities 
would not happen if there were not a clear understanding that 
these think tanks are closely connected to the political 
leadership'' and ``contributing to activities that do enjoy the 
trust and patronage of the political leadership could give both 
enterprises and individual businessmen advantages . . .  . In a 
political system where economic and political activity are 
intrinsically linked, the fact that business finances a think 
tank does not mean that it is therefore more independent of the 
political leadership.'' \280\ One such example of a privately 
funded think tank is the Dialogue of Civilizations Research 
Institute, which opened in Berlin in 2016, and was co-founded 
and financed by Vladimir Yakunin, a longtime Putin associate 
and former head of Russian Railways (who the United States 
sanctioned for his role in Russia's illegal annexation of 
Crimea).\281\ The Institute's goal, according to a report by 
the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies, is to 
coordinate a worldwide network of Russian think tanks.\282\ One 
German newspaper reportedly described it as an ``instrument of 
Moscow's hybrid warfare'' whose primary purpose is to create an 
``alternative civilization to the American.'' \283\ The 
Institute denies any connections to the Kremlin, but does not 
make its funding transparent, and Yakunin is reported to be 
investing about $28 million in the Institute over five years, 
in addition to funding from other Russian businessmen.\284\ 
Such opaque funding is a hallmark of many Kremlin-linked NGOs 
and think tanks. An Atlantic Council report explains why these 
financial streams are so difficult to trace:
    \280\  Carolina Vendil Pallin & Susanne Oxenstierna, Russian Think 
Tanks and Soft Power,  Swedish Defense Research Agency, at 17-18 (Aug. 
    \281\ Ben Knight, ``Putin Associate Opens Russia-Friendly Think 
Tank in Berlin,'' Deutsche Welle, Jul. 1, 2016; U.S. Department of the 
Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control, ``Ukraine-Related 
Designations,'' Mar. 20, 2014. The Institute emerged out of the World 
Public Forum Dialogue of Civilizations, headquartered in Vienna. 
``History,'' Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute, https://doc-
research.org/en/about-us/ (visited Dec. 18, 2017). It has a branch in 
Moscow, and plans expansions in China.
    \282\ Vladislava Vojtiskova et al., The Bear in Sheep's Clothing,  
at 12, 41, 42.
    \283\ Ben Knight, ``Putin Associate Opens Russia-Friendly Think 
Tank in Berlin,'' Deutsche Welle, Jul. 1, 2016.
    \284\ Ibid.

        The [Kremlin's] web of political networks is hidden and 
        non-transparent by design, making it purposefully 
        difficult to expose. Traceable financial links would 
        inevitably make Moscow's enterprise less effective: 
        when ostensibly independent political figures call for 
        closer relations with Russia, the removal of sanctions, 
        or criticize the EU and NATO, it legitimizes the 
        Kremlin's worldview. It is far less effective, from the 
        Kremlin's point of view, to have such statements come 
        from individuals or organizations known to be on the 
        Kremlin's payroll.\285\
    \285\ Alina Polyakova et al., The Kremlin's Trojan Horses,  
Atlantic Council, at 4 (Nov. 2016).


    The Kremlin has also adopted a new practice in cultivating 
relationships with some of the more mainstream far-right 
parties in Europe, by establishing ``cooperation agreements'' 
between the dominant United Russia party and parties in Austria 
(Freedom Party), Hungary (Jobbik), Italy (Northern League), 
France (National Front), and Germany (AfD). These cooperation 
agreements include plans for regular meetings and 
``collaboration where suitable on economic, business and 
political projects.'' \286\ Kremlin-linked banks, funds, and 
oligarchs even lent nearly $13 million in 2014 to France's far-
right National Front party to finance its election 
campaign.\287\ And the German newspaper Bild reported that the 
Russian government clandestinely funded the AfD ahead of 2017 
parliamentary elections--perhaps without the AfD's knowledge--
by using middlemen to sell it gold at below-market prices.\288\ 
In addition to monetary resources, the Kremlin has reportedly 
also offered organizational, political, and media expertise and 
assistance to far-right European parties.\289\
    \286\ Alison Smale, ``Austria's Far Right Signs a Cooperation Pact 
with Putin's Party,'' Dec. 19, 2016.
    \287\ Marine Turchi, ``How a Russian Bank Gave France's Far-Right 
Front National Party 9mln Euros,'' Mediapart,  Nov. 24, 2014; Suzanne 
Daley & Maia de la Baume, ``French Far Right Gets Helping Hand With 
Russian Loan,'' The New York Times,  Dec. 1, 2014.
    \288\ Andrew Rettman, ``Illicit Russian Money Poses Threat to EU 
Democracy,'' EUobserver,  Apr. 21, 2017.
    \289\ Congressional Research Service, ``Russian Influence on 
Politics and Elections in Europe,'' June 27, 2017.
    Different Kremlin narratives attract different groups from 
left and right. Scholars Peter Pomerantsev and Michael Weiss 
describe how ``European right-nationalists are seduced by the 
[Kremlin's] anti-EU message; members of the far-left are 
brought in by tales of fighting US hegemony; [and] U.S. 
religious conservatives are convinced by the Kremlin's stance 
against homosexuality.'' \290\ The Congressional Research 
Service reports that many of the far-right European parties 
linked to the Kremlin are ``anti-establishment and anti-EU, and 
they often share some combination of extreme nationalism; a 
commitment to `law and order' and traditional family values; 
and anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, or anti-Islamic sentiments.'' 
\291\ Far-right gatherings are also sponsored by Kremlin-linked 
oligarchs like Vladimir Yakunin and Konstantin Malofeev who, 
according to the EUobserver, a Brussels-based online newspaper, 
have organized conferences that included ``delegates from 
Germany's neo-Nazi NPD party, Bulgaria's far-right Ataka party, 
the far-left KKK party in Greece, and the pro-Kremlin Latvian 
Russian Union party.'' \292\
    \290\ Peter Pomerantsev & Micahel Weiss, The Menace of Unreality: 
How the Kremlin Weaponizes Information, Culture and Money, Institute of 
Modern Russia, at 19 (Nov. 2014).
    \291\ Congressional Research Service, Russia: Background and U.S. 
Policy, at 29 (Aug. 21, 2017).
    \292\ Andrew Rettman, ``Illicit Russian Money Poses Threat to EU 
Democracy,'' EUobserver,  Apr. 21, 2017.
    Another such conference took place in March 2015, when the 
leaders of some of Europe's most controversial and fringe 
right-wing political organizations--as well as some from 
similar groups in the United States--met in St. Petersburg for 
the first International Russian Conservative Forum. The event 
was organized by Russia's nationalistic Rodina (``Motherland'') 
party, and its objective was clearly stated: to unite European 
and Russian conservative forces ``in the context of European 
sanctions against Russia and the United States' pressure on 
European countries and Russia.'' \293\ Speakers reportedly 
urged white Christians to reproduce, referred to gays as 
perverts, and said that murdered Russian opposition activists 
were resting in hell.\294\ They also decried same-sex marriage, 
globalization, radical Islam, immigration, and New York 
financiers, while consistently praising Russia's President 
Vladimir Putin for upholding and protecting conservative and 
masculine values. A British nationalist speaker showed a 
picture of a shirtless Putin riding a bear, and declared: 
``Obama and America, they are like females. They are feminized 
men. But you have been blessed by a man who is a man, and we 
envy that.'' \295\ James Taylor, an American who runs a white 
nationalist website, spoke at the event, where he called the 
United States ``the greatest enemy of tradition everywhere.'' 
    \293\ Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber, ``Russian, European Far-Right 
Parties Converge in St. Petersburg,'' The Moscow Times,  Mar. 22, 2015.
    \294\ Ibid.
    \295\ Neil MacFarquhar, ``Right-Wing Groups Find a Haven, for a 
Day, in Russia,'' The New York Times,  Mar. 22, 2015.
    \296\ Ibid.
    In the United States, many extreme right-wing groups, 
including white nationalists, look up to Putin--a self-
proclaimed champion of tradition and conservative values. At a 
protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, against the removal of a 
statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee, white nationalists 
repeatedly chanted ``Russia is our friend.'' \297\ Andrew 
Anglin, the publisher of the Daily Stormer, the world's biggest 
neo-Nazi website, apparently spent much of 2015 and 2016 
running his website from inside of Russia, from where his 
content was promoted by a suspected Russian bot network.\298\ 
In addition, the Kremlin has cultivated ties with organizations 
that promote gun rights and oppose same-sex marriage. For 
example, Kremlin-linked officials have also cultivated ties 
with groups in the United States like the National Rifle 
Association (NRA). Alexander Torshin, a former senator in 
Putin's United Russia party who allegedly helped launder money 
through Spain for Russian mobsters, developed a relationship 
with David Keene when the latter was the NRA's President.\299\ 
In 2015, the NRA sent a delegation to Moscow to meet with 
Dmitry Rogozin, a Putin ally and deputy prime minister who fell 
under U.S. sanctions in 2014 for his role in the crisis in 
Ukraine.\300\ U.S. evangelicals, including Franklin Graham, 
have also supported Putin's suppression of LGBT rights in 
Russia, saying that Putin ``has taken a stand to protect his 
nation's children from the damaging effects of any gay and 
lesbian agenda.'' \301\ Brian Brown, who runs the World Council 
of Families (WCF), a group that opposes same-sex marriage and 
abortion rights, testified to the Duma before it adopted 
several anti-gay laws.\302\ The WCF planned to hold its annual 
conference in Moscow in 2014, but cancelled it because of the 
difficulties presented by new U.S. sanctions legislation 
related to the crisis in Ukraine, which also hit a member of 
the WCF's planning committee, Vladimir Yakunin.\303\
    \297\ Tom Porter, ``Charlottesville's Alt-Right Leaders Have a 
Passion for Vladimir Putin,'' Newsweek,  Aug. 16, 2017; Laura Vozzella, 
``White Nationalist Richard Spencer Leads Torch-Bearing Protesters 
Defending Lee Statue,'' The Washington Post,  May 14, 2017.
    \298\ See Luke O'Brien, ``The Making of an American Nazi,'' The 
Atlantic,  Dec. 2017.
    \299\ Estaban Duarte et al., ``Mobster or Central Banker? Spanish 
Cops Allege This Russian Both,'' Bloomberg,  Aug. 9, 2016; Rosalind 
Helderman & Tom Hamburger, ``Guns and Religion: How American 
Conservatives Grew Closer to Putin's Russia,'' The Washington Post,  
Apr. 30, 2017.
    \300\ Tim Mak, ``Top Trump Ally Met with Putin's Deputy in 
Moscow,'' The Daily Beast,  Mar. 7, 2017; U.S. Department of the 
Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control, ``Issuance of a New 
Ukraine-Related Executive Order; Ukraine-related Designations,'' Mar. 
17, 2014.
    \301\ Steve Benen, ``Franklin Graham Sees Putin with Moral High 
Ground,'' MSNBC,  Mar. 19, 2014.
    \302\ Southern Poverty Law Center, ``Brian Brown Named President of 
Anti-LGBT World Congress of Families,'' June 2, 2016; Rosalind 
Helderman & Tom Hamburger, ``Guns and Religion: How American 
Conservatives Grew Closer to Putin's Russia,'' The Washington Post,  
Apr. 30, 2017.
    \303\ Southern Poverty Law Center, ``World Congress of Families 
Suspends Russia Conference,'' Mar. 25, 2014.
    The Kremlin's illegal annexation of Crimea and military 
incursion into eastern Ukraine also affected the rhetoric and 
focus of its disparate ideological boots on the ground. A year-
long study by a Hungarian think tank found that since the 
beginning of the crisis in Ukraine, far right and extremist 
organizations that had ``previously predominantly focused on 
ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities as their main enemies, 
redirect[ed] their attention to geopolitical issues. They are 
not only agitating against NATO and the EU, but also share a 
particular sympathy towards Vladimir Putin's Russia, which they 
regard as an ideological and political model.'' \304\ These 
groups also benefit from their voices being amplified by 
Kremlin-linked media networks that peddle in fake news and 
conspiracy theories. Furthermore, the small size and limited 
influence of fringe parties and paramilitary groups make it 
easy for the Kremlin to infiltrate, purchase, and control them. 
The report also noted that in Central and Eastern Europe, the 
Kremlin has sought to exploit ``the bitter memories of past 
territorial disputes, nationalist-secessionist tendencies, and 
the haunting spectres of chauvinist ideologies promising to 
make these nations great again.'' \305\
    \304\ Peter Kreko et al., Political Capital, From Russia with Hate: 
The Activity of Pro-Russian Extremist Groups in Central-Eastern Europe, 
 at 47 (Apr. 2017).
    \305\ Ibid. at 12.
    Unlike in Soviet times, the Kremlin no longer limits its 
support to just one end of the ideological spectrum. In 
addition to right-wing groups, it still maintains strong ties 
with former and current communist parties--Ukraine's Ministry 
of Justice in 2014 sought to ban the country's Communist Party, 
which was believed to be acting on behalf of the Kremlin.\306\ 
Some European left and far-left parties have also adopted more 
friendly views toward Russia, including Spain's Podemos party, 
Greece's Syriza Party (which has led the government since 
2015), Bulgaria's Socialist Party, and Moldova's Socialist 
Party, with candidates from the latter two winning presidential 
elections in November 2016.\307\ According to NATO officials, 
Russian intelligence agencies also reportedly provide covert 
support to European environmental groups to campaign against 
fracking for natural gas, thereby keeping the EU more dependent 
on Russian supplies.\309\ A study by the Wilfried Martens 
Centre for European Studies reports that the Russian government 
has invested $95 million in NGOs that seek to persuade EU 
governments to end shale gas exploration.\309\
    \306\ Peter Pomerantsev & Micahel Weiss, The Menace of Unreality: 
How the Kremlin Weaponizes Information, Culture and Money,  Institute 
of Modern Russia, at 19-20 (Nov. 2014).
    \307\ ``In the Kremlin's Pocket,'' The Economist,  Feb. 12,, 2015; 
Cynthia Kroet, ``The New Putin Coalition,'' Politico,  Nov. 21, 2016.
    \308\ Sam Jones et al., ``NATO Claims Moscow Funding Anti-Fracking 
Groups,'' Financial Times,  June 19, 2014.
    \309\ Vladislava Vojtiskova et al., The Bear in Sheep's Clothing,  
at 31.


    Just as the Kremlin has strengthened its relationship with 
the Russian Orthodox Church and used it to bolster its standing 
at home, the Russian Orthodox Church also serves as its proxy 
abroad, and the two institutions have several overlapping 
foreign policy objectives. According to the former editor of 
the official journal of the Moscow Patriarchate, ``the church 
has become an instrument of the Russian state. It is used to 
extend and legitimize the interests of the Kremlin.'' \310\ In 
a letter to Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, the Russian 
Orthodox Church's Patriarch, Kirill, wrote: ``During your 
service as foreign minister, the cooperation between the 
Russian foreign policy department and the Moscow Patriarchate 
has considerably broadened. Through joint efforts we have 
managed to make a contribution to the gathering and 
consolidation of the Russian World.'' \311\ Scholar Robert 
Blitt notes that ``the Russian government, in an effort to 
restore its lost role as a global superpower, has recruited the 
Church as a primary instrument for rallying together a dubious 
assortment of states and religious representatives to support a 
new international order. This new order is premised on the 
rejection of universal human rights and the revival of 
relativism, two principles that serve the Church well.'' \312\ 
Blitt also notes that the Russian government has linked 
national security with `'spiritual security,'' and that 
``abroad, the government benefits from the [Russian Orthodox 
Church]'s efforts as a willing partner in reinforcing Russia's 
'spiritual security,' which in turn boosts the channels 
available to it for the projection of Russian power abroad.'' 
    \310\ Andrew Higgins, ``In Expanding Russian Influence, Faith 
Combines with Firepower,'' The New York Times,  Sept. 13, 2016.
    \311\ Letter from Patriarch Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All 
Russia, Russian Orthodox Church, to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei 
Lavrov, Mar. 22, 2010.
    \312\ Robert Blitt, Russia's Orthodox Foreign Policy: the Growing 
Influence of the Russian Orthodox Church in Shaping Russia's Policies 
Abroad,  33 U. PA. J. Int'l L., at 379 (2011).
    \313\ Ibid.
    In 2003, the Russian Orthodox Church and Russia's Ministry 
of Foreign Affairs established a working group that has, in the 
words of Foreign Minister Lavrov, allowed them to work 
``together realizing a whole array of foreign policy and 
international activity thrusts.'' \314\ The Ministry of Foreign 
Affairs has also used Kirill to promote a relativistic view of 
human rights at the United Nations, arranging for him to give a 
speech in 2008 (before he was Patriarch) at the UN Human Rights 
Council, where he bemoaned that ``there is a strong influence 
of feministic views and homosexual attitudes in the formulation 
of rules, recommendations and programs in human rights 
advocacy.'' \315\ According to a report by Chatham House, in 
Ukraine, Georgia, and Armenia, Orthodox parent committees, 
modelled on similar Russian Orthodox committees, have launched 
attacks on LGBT and feminist groups.\316\ These committees 
``claim that gender equality is a Western construct intended to 
spread homosexuality in Eastern Europe, blaming the United 
States and the EU for the decay of `moral health' in the 
respective societies.'' \317\ The Russian Orthodox Church also 
enjoys strong financial backing from Kremlin-linked oligarchs 
Konstantin Malofeev and Vladimir Yakunin, who are both under 
U.S. sanctions.\318\ In Bulgaria and Romania, the Kremlin even 
allegedly co-opted Orthodox priests to lead anti-fracking 
protests.\319\ In Moldova, senior priests have worked to halt 
the country's integration with Europe (leading anti-homosexual 
protests and even claiming that new biometric passports for the 
EU were `'satanic'' because they had a 13-digit number), and 
priests in Montenegro led efforts to block the country from 
joining NATO.\320\
    \314\ Ibid. at 381.
    \315\ Metropolitan Kirill, Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate 
DECR, Address on the Panel Discussion on Human Rights and Intercultural 
Dialogue at the 7th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, Mar. 22, 
    \316\ Orysia Lutsevych, Agents of the Russian World: Proxy Groups 
in the Contested Neighbourhood,  Chatham House, at 26 (Apr. 2016).
    \317\ Ibid. at 26.
    \318\ Ibid. at 25-26; Gabriela Baczynska & Tom Heneghan, ``How the 
Russian Orthodox Church Answers Putin's Prayers in Ukraine,'' Reuters,  
Oct. 6, 2014; U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets 
Control, ``Ukraine-related Designations,'' Mar. 20, 2014; U.S. 
Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control, 
``Issuance of a New Ukraine-related Executive Order and General 
License; Ukraine-related Designations,'' Dec. 19, 2014.
    \319\ Sam Jones et al., ``NATO Claims Moscow Funding Anti-Fracking 
Groups,'' Financial Times,  June 19, 2014.
    \320\ Andrew Higgins, ``In Expanding Russian Influence, Faith 
Combines with Firepower,'' The New York Times,  Sept. 13, 2016.


    During his time in St. Petersburg in the 1990s, Putin 
allegedly collaborated with two major organized crime groups to 
assert control over the city's gambling operations, helped 
launder money and facilitated travel for known mafia figures, 
had a company run by a crime syndicate provide security for his 
Ozero (``Lake'') house cooperative, and helped that criminal 
organization gain a monopoly over St. Petersburg's fuel 
deliveries.\321\ According to a report by scholar Ilya 
Zaslavskiy, the latter operation would teach Putin useful 
skills that he could later use at the national level, including 
``monopolization of the downstream energy market, management of 
the city's oil and gas assets through nominal front men and 
offshore accounts, and the use of ex-Stasi and other Warsaw 
Pact operatives in energy schemes across Europe.'' \322\
    \321\ Brian Whitmore, ``Putinfellas,'' Radio Free Europe/Radio 
Liberty,  May 3, 2016 (citing Karen Dawisha, Putin's Kleptocracy: Who 
Owns Russia? Simon & Schuster, Sept. 2015).
    \322\ Ilya Zaslavskiy, Corruption Pipeline: the Threat of Nord 
Stream 2 to EU Security and Democracy,  Free Russia, at 4 (2017).
    From the Kremlin, Putin has allegedly continued to use 
Russian-based organized crime groups to pursue his interests 
both at home and abroad, including to smuggle arms, assassinate 
political opponents, earn ``black cash'' for off-the-books 
operations, conduct cyberattacks, and support separatist 
movements in Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine.\323\ Euan Grant, an 
expert in transnational crime, told The Moscow Times that 
Russians linked to organized crime groups have formed a large 
quasi-intelligence agency for the Kremlin, acting as 
``political Trojan horses'' that use their money to ``undermine 
morale, compromise officials and weaken Western resolve.'' 
    \323\ Mark Galeotti, Crimintern: How the Kremlin Uses Russia's 
Criminal Networks in Europe,  European Council on Foreign Relations, at 
1 (Apr. 2017); Brian Whitmore, ``Putinfellas,'' Radio Free Europe/Radio 
Liberty,  May 3, 2016.
    \324\ Peter Hobson, ``How Europe Became a Russian Gangster 
Playground,'' The Moscow Times,  May 12, 2016.
    In 2016, a judge investigating Russian mafia operations in 
Spain issued international arrest warrants for several current 
and former Russian government officials with alleged 
connections to a money laundering operation run by a Russia-
based crime group in Spain. Spanish prosecutors also alleged 
that a senior member of the Duma, Vladislav Reznik, helped the 
head of the Russian crime syndicate in Spain, Gennady Petrov, 
get his allies into senior positions in the Russian government 
in exchange for assets in Spain.\325\ Spanish investigators 
tapping Petrov's phones heard him speak with a deputy prime 
minister and five other cabinet ministers, as well as various 
legislators, including Reznik, a founder and vice president of 
Putin's United Russia party and head of the Duma's finance 
committee.\326\ Reznik and Petrov regularly socialized and did 
business together, sharing a private jet and the same 
secretary, lawyer, and financial adviser in Spain.\327\ Reznik 
was also a member of the board of directors of Bank Rossiya, 
which fell under U.S. sanctions in 2014 for its role in Ukraine 
and was described by the U.S. Treasury Department as ``the 
personal bank for senior officials of the Russian Federation.'' 
\328\ And from 1998-99, Petrov was reportedly a co-owner of 
Bank Rossiya, along with several men belonging to Putin's Ozero 
cooperative of dacha owners (the Panama Papers also revealed 
that Bank Rossiya transferred at least $1 billion to Putin's 
friend, the musician Sergei Roldugin).\329\
    \325\ Ibid. The arrest warrants were later thrown out, reportedly 
because some of the named individuals were cooperating with the 
    \326\ Ibid.
    \327\ Ibid.
    \328\ Ibid.; U.S. Department of the Treasury, ``Treasury Sanctions 
Russian Officials, Members of the Russian Leadership's Inner Circle, 
and an Entity for Involvement in the Situation in Ukraine,'' Mar. 20, 
    \329\ Alec Luhn & Luke Harding, ``Spain Issues Arrest Warrants for 
Russian Officials Close to Putin,'' The Guardian,  May 4, 2016.
    There are also multiple historical links between Putin and 
Petrov's gang in St. Petersburg. The gang was then led by 
Vladimir Barsukov and started out in St. Petersburg in the 
early 1990s, the same time that Putin served as the city's 
deputy mayor. In addition to illicit activities, the gang was 
allegedly involved in real estate, banking, and energy, 
including the Petersburg Fuel Company (PTK), which, thanks to a 
decision involving Putin, won a contract in 1995 to be the sole 
supplier of gasoline in St. Petersburg.\330\ It is worth noting 
that, according to an investigation by Newsweek,  the then-
owner of PTK was Vladimir Smirnov (also a member of the Ozero 
cooperative), who partnered with Barsukov for the gasoline 
business. Smirnov also once led the Russian operations of the 
St. Petersburg Real Estate Holding Company (SPAG), of which 
Putin was an advisory board member until his inauguration as 
president.\331\ In 1999, U.S. and European intelligence 
agencies began to suspect that SPAG was involved in a money 
laundering scheme in Lichtenstein for Russian organized crime 
gangs and Colombian drug traffickers, including the Cali 
cocaine cartel (though SPAG denies wrongdoing and no charges 
were ever filed).\332\ Furthermore, Barsukov was also 
reportedly a board member of a SPAG subsidiary.\333\ Alexander 
Litvinenko, the former spy who Putin allegedly ordered the 
assassination of (see Appendix B for more information), and 
another former KGB agent, Yuri Shvets, had compiled a report on 
Barsukov and the Tambov gang in 2006, and found that, as deputy 
mayor, Putin had provided political protection for criminal 
activity related to Barsukov's gang in St. Petersburg.\334\
    \330\ Sebastian Rotella, ``A Gangster Place in the Sun: How Spain's 
Fight Against the Mob revealed Russian Power Networks,'' ProPublica,  
Nov. 10, 2017.
    \331\ Mark Hosenball, ``A Stain on Mr. Clean,'' Newsweek,  Sept. 2, 
    \332\ Ibid.
    \333\ Ibid.; United Kingdom House of Commons, The Litvinenko 
Inquiry: Report into the Death of Alexander Litvinenko,  at 112 (Mar. 
    \334\ Damien Sharkov, `` `Putin Involved in Drug Smuggling Ring,' 
Says Ex-KGB Officer,'' Newsweek,  Mar. 13, 2015.
    Russian security expert Mark Galeotti of the European 
Council on Foreign Relations, estimates that Russian-based 
organized crime is now responsible for one-third of Europe's 
heroin supply, a large portion of the trafficking of non-
European people, and most illegal weapons imports.\335\ 
Galeotti reports that Russian-based crime groups in Europe 
largely operate with (and behind) indigenous European 
gangs.\336\ They are not fighting for territory anymore, but 
working as ``brokers and facilitators'' for regional and 
international criminal activities and supply chains. One 
supposedly retired Russian criminal told Galeotti in 2016 that 
``we have the best of both worlds: from Russia we have strength 
and safety, and in Europe we have wealth and comfort.'' \337\ 
And, according to a Western counter-intelligence officer, the 
strength and safety that these groups enjoy in Russia are what 
give the Kremlin power over them.\338\ Galeotti asserts that, 
under Putin's rule, connections between Russia-based organized 
crime groups and Russian intelligence services, including the 
FSB, have grown substantially. Their interconnectedness now 
goes well beyond the institutionalization of corruption and the 
growing grey area between legal and illegal activity. In 
effect, during Putin's rule the state has nationalized 
organized crime: the underworld now serves the ``upperworld.'' 
    \335\ Mark Galeotti, Crimintern: How the Kremlin Uses Russia's 
Criminal Networks in Europe,  European Council on Foreign Relations, at 
1 (Apr. 2017).
    \336\ Ibid.
    \337\ Ibid. at 1-2.
    \338\ Ibid. at 3.
    \339\ Ibid. at 2.

                        THE EXPORT OF CORRUPTION

    The Kremlin has also exported economic corruption to its 
periphery and throughout Europe. Anton Shekhovtsov, a scholar 
who studies the Kremlin's links with far-right and extremist 
groups, believes that the Kremlin even prefers using corruption 
over cultivating such groups, saying that ``Russia would rather 
destroy the EU through corruption . . . than through the 
support of anti-EU forces.'' \340\
    \340\ Andrew Rettman, ``Illicit Russian Money Poses Threat to EU 
Democracy,'' EUobserver,  Apr. 21, 2017.
    In the report ``Stage Hands: How Western Enablers 
Facilitate Kleptocracy,'' journalist and author Oliver Bullough 
describes how Western countries are used by corrupt officials 
to protect their ill-gotten gains:

        In Stage One, the kleptocrat secures his newly acquired 
        assets by getting his money and company ownership 
        offshore. This successfully insulates him against 
        unexpected political changes at home. In Stage Two, the 
        kleptocrat secures himself and his children by 
        physically moving his family offshore. This insulates 
        those closest to him against the consequences of the 
        misgovernment that made him rich, while providing both 
        them and him with a more amenable environment in which 
        to spend his wealth. In Stage Three, the kleptocrat 
        secures his reputation by building a network among 
        influential people in Western countries. In simple 
        terms, the goal of Stage Three is to make sure that a 
        Google search returns more news stories about good 
        deeds than about allegations of corruption and 
    \341\ Oliver Bullough, Stage Hands: How Western Enablers Facilitate 
Kleptocracy,  Hudson Institute, at 2 (May 2016).

    The scale of how much illicit money has moved out of Russia 
is staggering. A report by Global Financial Integrity that 
tracked illicit financial flows from developing countries found 
that, between 2004 and 2013, over $1 trillion left Russia, 
averaging over $100 billion a year.\342\ Several recent 
investigations have uncovered how that illicit money flows out 
of Russia. An exhaustive investigation by the Organized Crime 
and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) tracked over $20 
billion in illicit money that travelled from 19 Russian banks 
to 5,140 companies with accounts at 732 banks in 96 countries, 
including nearly every country in the EU.\343\ The 
International Committee of Investigative Journalists' (ICIJ) 
Panama Papers probes have traced $2 billion in illicit funds 
linked to Vladimir Putin that were moved abroad using a Cypriot 
bank and a Swiss law firm.\344\ Investigations of Deutsche Bank 
have found that it assisted Russian clients covertly transfer 
$10 billion to other jurisdictions.\345\ In 2015, Deutsche Bank 
reported that $1.5 billion entered the UK each month without 
being recorded in official statistics, and that half of that 
money comes from Russia.\346\ Hermitage Capital's investigation 
of the Klyuev organized crime group found that it used EU banks 
to launder portions of the $230 million the group stole through 
fraudulent tax refunds.\347\ Of that amount, some $39 million 
ended up in Germany, $33 million in France, and $30 million in 
Britain, where it was reportedly spent on yachts, private jets, 
designer dresses, and boarding school fees.\348\ All of this 
illicit money is reportedly a boon for real estate agents, 
lawyers, and luxury service providers in the West.\349\
    \342\ Dev Kar and Joseph Spanjers, ``Illicit Financial Flows from 
Developing Countries: 2004-2013,'' Global Financial Integrity, at 8 
(Dec. 2015).
    \343\ Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, The Russian 
Laundromat Exposed,  Mar. 20, 2017.
    \344\ Jake Bernstein, et al., International Committee of 
Investigative Journalists, ``All Putin's Men: Secret Records Reveal 
Money Network Tied to Russian Leader,'' Apr. 3, 2016.
    \345\ Ed Caesar, ``Deutsche Bank's $10-Billion Scandal,'' The New 
Yorker, Aug. 29, 2016.
    \346\ Peter Hobson, ``How Europe Became a Russian Gangster 
Playground,'' The Moscow Times,  May 12, 2016.
    \347\ Neil Buckley & Richard Milne, ``French Probe Danske Bank Link 
to Alleged Russian Fraud,'' Financial Times, Oct. 12, 2017; Russian 
Untouchables, ``Attack On Hermitage, $230 Million Tax Theft,'' June 23, 
    \348\ Neil Buckley, ``Magnitsky Fraud Cash Laundered Through 
Britain, MPs Hear,'' Financial Times, May 3, 2016; Neil Buckley & 
Richard Milne, ``French Probe Danske Bank Link to Alleged Russian 
Fraud,'' Financial Times,  Oct. 12, 2017.
    \349\ Peter Hobson, ``How Europe Became a Russian Gangster 
Playground,'' The Moscow Times,  May 12, 2016.
    Recent years have seen some progress in cracking down on 
Russian organized crime in Europe, especially Spain, and 
uncovering illicit money flowing out of Russia. But the size of 
the problem still far outweighs the response, particularly in 
prime destinations for illicit funds like Britain and the 
United States, where corrupt Russian government officials and 
criminals can easily hide and protect the assets they have 
stolen from the Russian people. In the United States, current 
law allows the true owners of shell corporations to remain 
anonymous and hidden from public sight. In addition, opaque 
bank accounts held by law firms are used to launder illicit 
funds into the country to purchase real estate and other 
assets, making the United States an attractive conduit and 
destination for the ill-gotten gains of corrupt Russian 
officials and other bad actors around the world.\350\
    \350\ Rachel Louise Ensign & Serena Ng, ``Law Firms' Accounts Pose 
Money-Laundering Risk,'' The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 26, 2016.


    Russia's use of energy to influence politics in Europe is 
part of the Kremlin's ``energy superpower'' strategy, coined by 
Igor Shuvalov when he was Putin's chief economic aide. As 
Putin's sherpa to the 2005 G8 summit, Shuvalov developed a new 
energy policy approach for Russia and proposed that the Kremlin 
make the European countries an offer at the upcoming G8 summit:

        Moscow would take care of ensuring a flow of fuel 
        sufficient to supply every house in Europe, and in 
        return Europe would show friendship, understanding, and 
        loyalty, as Silvio Berlusconi had. The concept appealed 
        very much to Putin. It allowed him to demonstrate a 
        new, more pragmatic approach to relations with Europe. 
        He did not want to talk to European leaders about human 
        rights, freedom of speech, or Chechnya. He was tired of 
        hearing only criticism. The only way to silence the 
        liberals was to steer the conversation toward business 
        matters. Putin appointed Shuvalov as his chief economic 
        negotiator, whereupon the latter began to represent 
        Russia in the G8, in the WTO, at Davos, and in talks 
        with the European Union. His strategic aim was 
        essentially to convert Russian oil and gas into 
        political influence and make Putin the energy emperor 
        of Europe.\351\
    \351\ Zygar, All the Kremlin's Men,  at 118-19 (emphasis added).

    The past decade-plus has seen Putin and the Kremlin pursue 
this ``energy superpower'' strategy with extreme vigor, not 
only using energy supplies as leverage, but also accumulating 
large stakes in energy infrastructure throughout Europe. 
Control of supplies and infrastructure has also allowed the 
Kremlin to extend influence over local businessmen and 
politicians, and exercise undue political influence over the 
countries of Europe, especially those on its periphery.
    Central and Eastern European countries are dependent on 
Russia for approximately 75 percent of their gas imports and, 
by some estimates, pay 10 to 30 percent more for their gas 
imports than countries in Western Europe.\352\ According to 
Heather Conley, a senior vice president at the Center for 
Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a U.S. think tank, 
this ``provides additional graft to deepen a country's energy 
dependency on Russia and make it vulnerable to political 
manipulation.'' \353\ Serbia provides a telling example of how 
such a situation might play out. The country is reliant on 
Russia for its natural gas imports, and its state-owned gas 
company, Srbijagas, has in recent years accumulated debts of 
over $1 billion, leading Russia to pressure Serbia in 2014 by 
reducing gas deliveries by 30 percent. Dusan Bajatovic, the 
director of Srbijagas, is also the deputy chairman of the pro-
Russian Socialist Party of Serbia, and serves in parliament, 
where he is on the Committee on Finance, State Budget, and 
Control of Public Spending. Russia is reported to have relied 
on Bajatovic as ``a guarantor of the matters agreed [to] in 
[the] South Stream project''--a now-defunct pipeline project on 
which Serbia has already lost some $30 million. Despite 
Serbia's debts and dependency on the Kremlin's gas supplies, 
Bajatovic insists that his country still ``benefits from 
contracts with Russia.'' \354\
    \352\ Statement of Heather Conley, Senior Vice President for 
Europe, Eurasia and the Arctic, Center for Strategic and International 
Studies, The Modus Operandi and Toolbox of Russia and Other Autocracies 
for Undermining Democracies Throughout the World, Hearing before the 
U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime and 
Terrorism, at 3, Mar. 15, 2017.
    \353\ Ibid.
    \354\ Heather Conley et al., The Kremlin Playbook: Understanding 
Russian Influence in Central and Eastern Europe,  Center for Strategic 
and International Studies, at 7 (Oct. 2016).
    The Kremlin also has a long track record of using energy 
resources and investments to funnel state resources into the 
pockets of Putin's friends and allies (``privatizing profit and 
nationalizing losses''), while at the same time maintaining or 
increasing its leverage and influence over the countries of 
Europe, which are largely dependent on Russia for natural gas 
supplies. While 90 percent of Europe's oil imports arrive by 
sea, most of its natural gas imports come via pipeline, 
limiting the flexibility of European countries to change 
suppliers or supply routes.\355\ Furthermore, European 
countries' ambitious carbon dioxide reduction targets mean that 
they are likely to become increasingly reliant on natural gas. 
While natural gas accounted for about 23 percent of the EU's 
energy consumption in 2015, that figure is expected to grow to 
30 percent by 2030, and 70 percent of the natural gas consumed 
in the EU is imported.\356\ In 2014, the EU imported 40 percent 
of its natural gas and 30 percent of its oil from Russia 
(Norway accounted for 35 percent of the EU's natural gas 
imports and 12 percent of oil imports).\357\ Several of the 
EU's member states rely on Russia for all of their natural gas 
imports: Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Slovakia, and 
Slovenia (and Latvia uses natural gas for approximately 40 
percent of its primary energy needs). Germany and Italy get 
nearly 40 percent of their gas imports from Russia, and 
Germany's decision to phase out nuclear power plants by 2020, 
as well as some EU members' potential prohibitions on shale gas 
development, could result in a greater need for natural gas 
imports in the EU.\358\
    \355\ Michael Ratner et al., Europe's Energy Security: Options and 
Challenges to Natural Gas Supply Diversification,  Congressional 
Research Service, at 5 (Nov. 2015).
    \356\ Ibid.
    \357\ Ibid.
    \358\ Ibid.
    In addition to their roles as energy suppliers, Russian 
energy companies have large ownership stakes in European energy 
infrastructure such as pipelines, distribution, and storage 
facilities. A 2014 study commissioned by members of the 
European parliament found that Gazprom, Russia's state-owned 
natural gas company, controls large amounts of shares--
sometimes even majority stakes--in energy trading, 
distribution, pipeline, and storage facilities in several 
Central and Eastern European countries. Gazprom also owns large 
stakes in storage facilities in Western Europe, including in 
Germany, Austria, and the UK.\359\
    \359\ Deutsches Institut fur Wirtschaftsforschung,European Natural 
Gas Infrastructure: The Role of Gazprom in European Natural Gas 
Supplies,  at VI (Spring 2014).
    The placement of and control over energy pipelines provides 
the Russian government with a key source of leverage. Pipeline 
routes are chosen to exert maximum influence over the countries 
they are going through, as well as the countries that they 
circumvent. According to a Berlin Policy Journal article by 
Ilya Zaslavskiy, ``these projects serve a purpose beyond mere 
economic gain: they are primarily driven by the Kremlin for 
political expediency, with Russian leadership sacrificing 
efficiency and commercial viability for the sake of 
international political partnerships and the economic security 
of President Vladimir Putin's inner circle. This approach gives 
the Russian regime a political and economic tool which is 
powerful and unavailable to its Western counterparts.'' \360\
    \360\ Ilya Zaslavskiy, ``Putin's Art of the Deal,'' Berlin Policy 
Journal, May 18, 2017.
    For example, the proposed Turkish Stream pipeline is not 
economically expedient, as the Blue Stream and Trans-Balkan 
pipelines already give Russia excess export capacity to Turkey. 
However, in addition to providing lavish contracts to Putin's 
inner circle and further cementing ties with Turkey's President 
Recep Erdogan, the new pipeline will give the Kremlin more 
leverage over Ukraine by further reducing its role in 
transiting Gazprom's gas to Europe and Turkey.\361\ Gazprom 
also uses long-term contracts (LTCs) that prohibit buyers from 
selling its gas to third parties, allowing it to implement 
``take-or-pay'' clauses that require the buyer to purchase a 
set amount or pay a penalty, instead of more flexible contracts 
that would be based on fluctuating pricing and demand.\362\ 
According to an Atlantic Council report, ``many countries that 
were heavily depending on Gazprom's gas were thus given a de 
facto choice: compromise with Russia on sensitive political and 
economic issues and receive favorable LTCs, or defy the Kremlin 
and pay high gas prices for years to come.'' \363\ Such 
practices led the European Commission to open an antitrust 
investigation of Gazprom in 2012, looking at its activities in 
eight EU countries.\364\ In 2015, the European Commission 
formally charged Gazprom for illegally partitioning EU gas 
markets, denying access to gas pipelines by third parties, and 
unlawful pricing, all of which could strengthen the Kremlin's 
political and economic stranglehold over Central and Eastern 
European countries.\365\
    \361\ Ibid.
    \362\ Ilya Zaslavskiy, The Kremlin's Gas Games in Europe: 
Implications for Policy Makers,  Atlantic Council, at 2 (May 2017).
    \363\ Ibid.
    \364\ European Commission, ``Commission Opens Proceedings against 
Gazprom,'' (Antitrust Case No. 39816), Sept. 4, 2012.
    \365\ European Commission, ``Commission Sends Statement of 
Objections to Gazprom for Alleged Abuse of Dominance on Central and 
Eastern European Gas Supply Markets,'' (Antitrust Case No. 39816), Apr. 
22, 2015; Nicholas Hirst, ``Commission Charges Gazprom,'' Politico 
Europe,  Apr. 22, 2015. In March 2017, the Commission provisionally 
accepted concessions by Gazprom, which the Commission said will address 
competition its concerns and better integrate European markets. 
European Commission, ``Commission Invites Comments on Gazprom 
Commitments Concerning Central and Eastern European Gas Markets,'' Mar. 
13, 2017.
    The Nord Stream pipelines provide another example of Russia 
forgoing economic logic in the name of political expediency. 
Nord Stream 1 (NS1), which went into service in 2011, is a 760-
mile sub-sea natural gas pipeline that connects Germany to 
Russia via the Baltic Sea.\366\ According to some analysts, NS1 
has been an economic disaster for Russia: transit costs are 
equal to or greater than the cost of transporting gas across 
Ukraine, and capacity increases have been minimal as gas 
transited through NS1 is just diverted from pipelines that 
cross Ukraine (before NS1 opened, as much as 80 percent of 
Europe's gas imports from Russia were transported through 
Ukraine).\367\ As a result, Ukraine's transit revenue has 
declined from approximately $4 billion in 2013, to some $3 
billion in 2014, and an expected $2 billion in 2015.\368\ 
Gazprom has treated the pipeline as ``a stranded investment 
which never makes the promised return on capital,'' in the 
words of one analyst. But NS1 has given the Kremlin increased 
leverage over Ukraine and entangled Germany as a principal hub 
for Russian gas in Europe. NS1 has also advanced the Russian 
government's goal to ``divide and conquer'' the EU with its 
energy supplies.\369\
    \366\ Nord Stream, ``The Pipeline,'' https://www.nord-stream.com/
the-project/pipeline (visited Dec. 19, 2017).
    \367\ Ilya Zaslavskiy, ``Putin's Art of the Deal,'' Berlin Policy 
Journal,  May 18, 2017; Jon Henley, ``Is Europe's Gas Supply Threatened 
by the Ukraine Crisis?'' The Guardian,  March 3, 2014.
    \368\ Vladimir Socor, ``Nordstream Two in Ukrainian Perspective,'' 
Jamestown Foundation Eurasia Daily Monitor, Sep. 21, 2015.
    \369\ Ilya Zaslavskiy, ``Putin's Art of the Deal,'' Berlin Policy 
Journal,  May 18, 2017.
    Even though NS1 only runs at about 50 percent capacity, the 
Kremlin has assiduously pursued the construction of Nord Stream 
2 (NS2), which it aims to put into service by 2019 and would 
double the capacity of NS1 by laying two new pipelines parallel 
to the original pair.\370\ The $11 billion project would also 
give Gazprom a stronger `'strategic foothold'' in Germany, 
which would become the main hub for transit and storage of 
Russian gas exports to Europe.\371\ The geopolitical rationale 
for the Kremlin is clear: if both the Turkish Stream and NS2 
pipelines are built, the Russian government would have the 
transport capacity to fully divert all Russian gas supplies 
that currently transit Ukraine, thereby depriving the 
government of Ukraine of billions of dollars in transit fees 
that are essential to its budget.\372\ An analysis published by 
the Atlantic Council in May 2017 concluded that NS2 ``is a 
politically motivated project that presents a major challenge 
to European law and EU principles, and jeopardizes the security 
interests of the United States and its EU allies.'' \373\ The 
U.S. State Department's former special envoy for international 
energy affairs said in 2016 that NS2 would put an ``economic 
boot'' on the necks of governments in the Balkans and Eastern 
    \370\ Zaslavskiy, The Kremlin's Gas Games in Europe,  at 6-7.
    \371\ Ibid. at 2.
    \372\ Ibid. at 6-7.
    \373\ Ibid. at 1.
    \374\ Anca Gurzu & Joseph Schatz, ``Great Northern Gas War: Gazprom 
Project Worries the US and Divides Europe,'' Politico,  Feb. 17, 2016.
    Under the project's current structure, Gazprom will be the 
sole shareholder of the NS2 project company, though five 
European energy firms--Engie (France), OMV (Austria), Shell 
(Britain and the Netherlands), and Uniper and Wintershall 
(Germany)--have committed to providing long-term financing for 
50 percent of the project's total costs.\375\ As of November 
2017, the European Commission was proposing to extend to 
offshore pipelines rules that govern internal energy markets, 
which would lead to more stringent regulation of the 
project.\376\ Proposals to enhance the EU's regulatory 
oversight of NS2 led Russian Prime Minister Medvedev to 
complain that the EU was attempting to complicate the project's 
implementation or force Russia to abandon it.\377\
    \375\ ``New EU Amendment on Gas Pipelines Regulations Could Affect 
Nord Stream 2,'' Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty,  Nov. 8, 2017.
    \376\ ``EU Plans Rule Change to Snag Russian Pipeline,'' Reuters,  
Nov. 4, 2017.
    \377\ ``Medvedev Says EU Trying to Force Russia to Abort Nord 
Stream 2 Pipeline Project,'' Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty,  Nov. 14, 
    Given the threat this project poses to governments in 
Ukraine and the Balkans, as well as the Kremlin's history of 
leveraging energy supplies for political purposes, several U.S. 
government officials have come out in clear opposition to NS2. 
In February 2017, the Director of the State Department's Bureau 
of Energy Resources office for Europe, the Western Hemisphere, 
and Africa told a conference in Croatia that NS2 was ``a 
national security threat.'' \378\ The State Department's 
Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, A. Wess 
Mitchell, has stated that Moscow's construction of NS2 and the 
Turkish Stream pipeline, if completed, would ``bypass Ukraine 
as a transit country, heighten the vulnerability of Poland and 
the Balkans, and deepen European dependence on the Russian gas 
monopoly.'' \379\ And Deputy Assistant Secretary of State John 
McCarrick, from the Department's Bureau of Energy Resources, 
has noted that construction of NS2 ``would concentrate 75 to 80 
percent of Russian gas imports to the EU through a single 
route, thereby creating a potential choke point that would 
significantly increase Europe's vulnerability to supply 
disruption, whether intentional or accidental.'' \380\
    \378\ Dariusz Kalan, ``Nord Stream 2 `a Security Threat'--US 
Official,'' Interfax Global Energy, Feb. 17, 2017.
    \379\ Statement of A. Wess Mitchell, Assistant Secretary of State, 
Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, European Energy Security: U.S. 
Interests and Coercive Russian Diplomacy,  Hearing before the U.S. 
Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on Europe and 
Regional Security Cooperation, Dec. 12, 2017, at 2.
    \380\ Statement of John McCarrick, Deputy Assistant Secretary of 
State, Bureau of Energy Resources, European Energy Security: U.S. 
Interests and Coercive Russian Diplomacy,  Hearing before the U.S. 
Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on Europe and 
Regional Security Cooperation, Dec. 12, 2017, at 4.
    Energy supply disruption is a tactic that the Kremlin has 
repeatedly used to pursue its political objectives in Europe. A 
report by the Swedish Defense Research Agency showed that 
between 1992 and 2006, Russia imposed 55 energy cutoffs.\381\ 
Though Russian officials claimed the cutoffs were for technical 
reasons, analysts note that they ``almost always coincided with 
political interests, such as influencing elections or energy 
deals in Central and Eastern Europe.'' \382\ In addition, the 
Russian government has been suspected of sponsoring 
cyberattacks on energy infrastructure throughout Europe, 
especially in Ukraine and the Baltic states.\383\ Cybersecurity 
experts have linked Russian-backed hackers to multiple attacks 
in Ukraine, including one that crippled much of the country's 
power grid in December 2016.\384\ Some experts have said that 
Russia has used Ukraine as a training ground for cyberattacks 
on energy infrastructure.\385\ Such attacks on the United 
States are also possible, as a hacking group known as 
Dragonfly, which is reportedly linked to the Russian 
government, has reportedly hacked into dozens of companies that 
supply power to the U.S. electricity grid.\386\ These efforts 
are in line with a Russian military doctrine known as Strategic 
Operations to Destroy Critical Infrastructure Targets (SODCIT). 
General Martin Dempsey, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of 
Staff, has said that the doctrine ``calls for escalating to 
deescalate. That's a very dangerous doctrine. And they are 
developing capabilities that could allow them to do that.'' 
\387\ Given the tremendous potential damage of such attacks on 
energy grids in both Europe and the United States, stronger 
cyber defense efforts in the United States and more robust 
cooperation between U.S. and European governments is of the 
utmost necessity.
    \381\ Robert L. Larsson, Nord Stream, Sweden and Baltic Sea 
Security,  Swedish Defense Research Agency, at 80, (Mar. 2007). At 
least 20 occurred during Putin's tenure. Ibid.
    \382\ Peter Pomerantsev & Micahel Weiss, The Menace of Unreality: 
How the Kremlin Weaponizes Information, Culture and Money,  Institute 
of Modern Russia, at 22 (Nov. 2014).
    \383\ ``Dragonfly: Western Energy Sector Targeted By Sophisticated 
Attack Group,'' Symantec,  Oct. 20, 2017; Suspected Russia-Backed 
Hackers Target Baltic Energy Networks, Reuters,  May 11, 2017.
    \384\ Andy Greenberg, ``How an Entire Nation Became Russia's Test 
Lab for Cyberwar,'' Wired,  June 20, 2017.
    \385\ Ibid.
    \386\ ``Dragonfly: Western Energy Sector Targeted By Sophisticated 
Attack Group,'' Symantec, Oct. 20, 2017; Kevin Collier, ``Electricity 
Providers Targeted In Massive Hack,'' BuzzFeed News, Sept. 6, 2017.
    \387\ Martin Dempsey, Interview with Peter Feaver, Duke University, 
Apr. 11, 2016.


                  Chapter 5: Kremlin Interference in
                     Semi-Consolidated Democracies                
                   and Transitional Governments

    \388\ The countries in this chapter are defined as `'semi-
consolidated democracies'' or ``transitional or hybrid regimes'' by the 
Freedom House Nations in Transit study, which ranks and measures the 
progress toward or backsliding from democracy of 29 countries from 
Central Europe to Central Asia. The ranking is determined by an 
assessment of a country's national democratic governance, electoral 
process, civil society, independent media, local democratic governance, 
judicial framework and independence, and corruption. Countries 
classified as semi-consolidated democracies are defined as ``electoral 
democracies that meet relatively high standards for the selection of 
national leaders but exhibit weaknesses in their defense of political 
rights and civil liberties,'' while transitional or hybrid regimes are 
``typically electoral democracies where democratic institutions are 
fragile, and substantial challenges to the protection of political 
rights and civil liberties exist.'' Freedom House, Nations in Transit 
2017: The False Promise of Populism, at 22 (2017).

    The former states of the Soviet Union, as well as the 
former Communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe, 
remain perhaps the most vulnerable to Russian aggression. 
Geographically, the countries in Russia's ``backyard'' have 
populations that are most receptive to Kremlin propaganda, and, 
in some cases, have their own Russian-speaking populations. 
They are also the most vulnerable to interference due to weak 
governing institutions, justice systems that allow for higher 
levels of corruption, and underdeveloped or beleaguered 
independent media and civil society.
    The Russian tactics of interference follow two main trends 
in this region. First, Russia aggressively targets countries 
that have taken tangible steps to integrate with western 
institutions like the EU or NATO in order to impede integration 
processes. Georgia, Ukraine, and Montenegro are the most recent 
cases in a long history of Russian aggression along the 
periphery that stretches back generations--and as they have 
drawn closer to NATO and the EU, they have been the focus of 
arguably the most brazen Kremlin efforts to keep them from 
sliding across the finish line. Montenegro's accession to NATO 
in 2017 is an anomaly within this group, where, despite an 
onslaught of Russian pressure to deter it, the country was able 
to become a full member of the alliance.
    Second, Russian interference in places like Serbia is less 
visibly aggressive and focuses more on cultivating sympathetic 
elements of society to deter government efforts to integrate 
with the West. In addition to disinformation and the co-opting 
of political forces, Russia employs energy resources as a 
weapon to gain leverage in these countries. The Kremlin also 
targets NATO and EU members where corruption or vulnerabilities 
in the rule of law provide openings to erode their bonds to 
European values and institutions. This includes undermining 
their support for EU sanctions on Russia or NATO exercises on 
the continent. These tactics are most acute in Bulgaria and 
Hungary. Hungary represents a case where the government has 
enabled space for Kremlin interference to shore up its own 
political strength, which is largely based on anti-migrant and 
anti-European integration policies.
    Finally, the country examples in the following two chapters 
are not an exhaustive compilation of Russian government 
interference throughout Europe, but an illustrative list of 
examples from recent years. The examples provide important 
lessons about tried and true Kremlin interference tools, as 
well as best practices to neutralize them. President Putin and 
the Russian government are not master strategists, nor are they 
always successful in their assaults on democracies. But a few 
notable qualities make the Russian Federation a considerable 
opponent: scale, persistence, and adaptability. The United 
States and our allies, then, must also develop a more nimble, 
adaptable toolkit to deter and defend against continued 
meddling by the Kremlin.


    Perhaps more than any other country, Ukraine has borne the 
brunt of Russian hybrid aggression in all of its forms--a 
lethal blend of conventional military assaults, assassinations, 
disinformation campaigns, cyberattacks, and the weaponization 
of energy and corruption. Russian government action on all of 
these fronts spiked after the Euromaidan protests of 2014 
brought President Petro Poroshenko to power, and they have 
continued at an intense tempo in the years since. Ukraine has 
also been the target and testing ground for Russian 
cyberattacks that have crossed into direct strikes on physical 
infrastructure, such as its electricity grid.\389\ As with 
Georgia, the goal of Russia's interference appears to be to 
weaken Ukraine to the point that it becomes a failed state, 
rendering it incapable of joining Western institutions in the 
future and presenting the Russian people with another example 
of the ``consequences'' of democratization.
    \389\ Kim Zetter, ``Inside the Cunning Unprecedented Hack of 
Ukraine's Power Grid,'' Wired,  Mar. 3, 2016.
    The Russian military assault on Ukraine has been well 
documented since the illegal occupation of Crimea and support 
for separatists in Donbas began in 2014.\390\ This chapter will 
focus on those other elements of the Russian government's 
asymmetric arsenal at play in Ukraine, namely its use of 
cyberattacks, disinformation, and corruption.
    \390\ The congressionally supported provision of lethal assistance 
to the Ukrainian military is long overdue and will hopefully increase 
the battlefield cost for Russian forces active in the country.
    Putin's interference in Ukraine's internal affairs was on 
full display in the 2004 presidential election between pro-
Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovych and a pro-Western 
candidate, Viktor Yuschenko. Yanukovych's campaign was 
supported by a large cadre of Russian political strategists, 
and just three days before the election, Putin attended a 
parade in Kiev where he stood alongside Yanukovych.\391\ 
Putin's interference created an unprecedented situation where 
``Yuschenko's main rival in the elections was not Yanukovych, 
in fact, but Putin, who carried on as if it were his own 
personal campaign.'' \392\ And Russia's secret services 
allegedly performed darker acts to assist Yanukovych. Most 
disturbingly, FSB agents were reportedly involved in the 
poisoning of Yuschenko in September 2004 with TCDD, the most 
toxic form of dioxin, which nearly killed him and left his face 
permanently disfigured.\393\ And according to Ukraine expert 
Taras Kuzio, alleged FSB-hired operatives also planted a car 
bomb--large enough to destroy every building within a 500-meter 
radius--near Yuschenko's campaign offices.\394\ But in spite of 
Putin's best efforts, the Ukrainian people came to the streets 
to protect the ballot box, culminating in the Orange Revolution 
and the elevation of Yuschenko to the presidency.
    \391\ Zygar, All the Kremlin's Men,  at 89-90.
    \392\ Ibid. at 91.
    \393\ Taras Kuzio, Russian Policy Toward Ukraine During Elections,  
13 Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization 491, at 
497-499, 512-513 (Sept. 2005).
    \394\ Ibid. at 498.
    Yanukovych would later assume power in February 2010, and 
in 2014, as Ukraine sought to finalize an Association Agreement 
with the European Union, a key step in the EU accession 
process, Yanukovych backtracked on the deal in response to 
pressure from Moscow.\395\ The Ukrainian people rose up in a 
``Revolution of Dignity'' in Kiev, which ousted Yanukovych, but 
also emboldened Russian forces to invade Crimea and eastern 
Ukraine under the pretext that Russian-speaking compatriots 
faced threats from Ukrainian nationalists. Using techniques 
honed during the invasion of Georgia, Russia expertly combined 
all the elements of hybrid warfare in its assault on Ukraine--
conventional and unconventional forces, cyberattacks, and 
    \395\ Will Englund & Kathy Lally, ``Ukraine, Under Pressure from 
Russia, Puts Brakes on E.U. Deal,'' The Washington Post, Nov. 21, 2013; 
James Marson, et al. ``Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych Driven From 
Power,'' The Wall Street Journal,  Feb. 23, 2014.
    Today, Russia continues to illegally occupy Crimea and 
maintains an active military presence in eastern Ukraine in 
support of separatists there. In that context, Ukraine seems to 
have emerged as Russia's favorite laboratory for all forms of 
hybrid war.
    Cyberattacks have been a primary tool of Russia's hybrid 
warfare operations in Ukraine. Virtually every sector of its 
society and economy--media, finance, transportation, military, 
politics, and energy--has been the repeated target of pro-
Kremlin hackers over the past three years.\396\ According to 
Kenneth Geers, an ambassador to the NATO Cooperative Cyber 
Defense Center of Excellence: ``The gloves are off. This is a 
place where you can do your worst without retaliation or 
prosecution . . . Ukraine is not France or Germany. A lot of 
Americans can`t find it on a map, so you can practice there.'' 
    \396\ Andy Greenberg, ``How an Entire Nation Became Russia's Test 
Lab for Cyberwar,'' Wired,  June 20, 2017.
    \397\ Ibid.
    And the Kremlin has not wasted any opportunity to test and 
refine its cyber warfare skills. CyberBerkut, a pro-Russian 
group with ties to the hackers that breached the Clinton 
campaign and DNC in 2016, attacked Ukraine's Central Election 
Commission website in 2014 to falsely show that ultra-right 
presidential candidate Dmytro Yarosh was the winner.\398\ The 
extent of attacks on Ukrainian institutions quickly widened to 
include the ministries of infrastructure, defense, and finance 
as well as the country's pension fund, treasury, and seaport 
    \398\ Ibid.
    \399\ Ibid.
    Russian cyberattacks in Ukraine have graduated from simply 
exfiltrating data and taking down websites to attacks on 
physical infrastructure. On at least two occasions, in December 
2015 and December 2016, hackers have attacked Ukraine's 
electricity distribution system, putting thousands of citizens 
in the dark for extended periods of time.\400\ Cyber experts 
say that the sophistication of the attacks show a marked 
evolution. According to Marina Krotofil, an industrial control 
systems security researcher for Honeywell: ``In 2015 they were 
like a group of brutal street fighters. In 2016, they were 
ninjas.'' \401\
    \400\ Ibid. Kim Zetter, ``Inside the Cunning Unprecedented Hack of 
Ukraine's Power Grid,'' Wired,  Mar. 3, 2016.
    \401\ Andy Greenberg, ``How an Entire Nation Became Russia's Test 
Lab for Cyberwar,'' Wired,  June 20, 2017.
    The United States has sought to provide support to 
Ukrainian cyber defense efforts, but challenges remain. In the 
aftermath of the attacks on Ukraine's energy grid, U.S. 
officials from the Department of Energy, Department of Homeland 
Security, FBI, and the North American Electric Reliability 
Corporation deployed to assist Ukrainian authorities in 
assessing the attack.\402\ In 2017, USAID started a project in 
Ukraine to help the country build its cyber defenses, but given 
the scale and consistency of the Kremlin-directed barrage of 
cyberattacks, these assistance efforts pale in comparison to 
the threat.\403\
    \402\ Ibid.
    \403\ U.S. Department of State, Congressional Notification of 
Programs to Counter Russian Influence, Jan.19, 2017.
    As the Kremlin has made Ukraine the front line in its 
battle against Western institutions, Ukrainian civil society 
organizations have developed cutting-edge innovations to 
counter Russian disinformation. In March 2014, the Kyiv Mohyla 
School of Journalism helped establish StopFake.org--a fact-
checking website that works to refute Russian disinformation 
and promote media literacy, which has expanded to produce a 
weekly TV show and podcasts. StopFake's show has debunked 
Russian propaganda that said the Islamic State terrorist group 
had opened a training camp in Ukraine and that Ukrainian 
nationalists had crucified Russian-speaking children.\404\ 
StopFake has become one of the most internationally recognized 
organizations for successfully countering Russian 
disinformation.\405\ Another program conducted by a U.S.-based 
organization helped train more than 15,000 Ukrainians on how to 
critically read and share information.\406\ Over the course of 
the program, the number of trainees who cross-checked the news 
they consumed rose by 22 percent.\407\
    \404\ Andrew E. Kramer, ``To Battle Fake News, Ukrainian Show 
Features Nothing But Lies,'' The New York Times,  Feb, 26, 2017.
    \405\ See, e.g.,  ``2017 Democracy Dinner Explores the Global 
Threat of Disinformation,'' National Democratic Institute for 
International Affairs, Nov. 2, 2017.
    \406\ Tara Susman-Pena & Katya Vogt, ``Ukrainians' Self-defense 
against Disinformation: What We Learned from Learn to Discern,'' IREX,  
June 12, 2017.
    \407\ Ibid.
    The Ukrainian government has also sought to push back 
against disinformation, though with uneven results. In May 
2017, President Poroshenko ordered Ukrainian service providers 
to block access to Russian websites including the social 
networking site VK (formerly VKontakte), Odnoklassniki, search 
engine Yandex, and the email service Mail.ru, prompting freedom 
of speech concerns from groups like Human Rights Watch.\408\
    \408\ ``Ukraine's Poroshenko to Block Russian Social Networks,'' 
BBC News,  May 16, 2017; Human Rights Watch, ``Ukraine: Revoke Ban on 
Dozens of Russian Web Companies,'' May 16, 2017.
    Ukraine's most significant vulnerability to the Kremlin's 
influence operations is corruption (Ukraine ranks 131 out of 
167 countries on Transparency International's 2016 Corruption 
Perceptions Index).\409\ Since Ukraine's independence, the 
Russian government has used corruption as a tool to weaken the 
development of the country's fragile democratic institutions. 
While many political figures in Ukraine have been mired in 
corruption scandals, the scale that apparently took place 
during the Yanukovych regime was striking--in order to maintain 
power, Ukrainian watchdogs asserted that he paid $2 billion in 
bribes, which amounted to $1.4 million for every day that he 
was in office. Election commissioners who guaranteed his 
party's good fortunes at the polls were especially well 
    \409\ Transparency International, Corruption Perceptions Index 
2016,  Jan. 25, 2017.
    \410\ Maxim Tucker, ``Ukraine's Fallen Leader Victor Yanukovych 
`Paid Bribes of $2 billion` or $1.4 Million for Every Day He was 
President,'' The Guardian, May 31, 2016.
    Corruption is now seen in many circles as a threat to 
Ukraine's national security, and the country's civil society 
and the current government have developed several important 
anti-corruption measures, building the resilience of their 
institutions to defend against malign Russian government 
influence. Ukrainian civil society has established the Anti-
Corruption Action Center (AntAC), which has courageously 
uncovered cases of high-level corruption despite mounting 
pressure by the authorities.\411\ And under substantial 
pressure from donors, the Ukrainian government has also taken 
important reform steps: it removed a controversial Prosecutor 
General who was accused of protecting corrupt actors in the 
country; it introduced transparency measures like an e-
declaration system for public officials to report their assets, 
and it established investigatory bodies like the National Anti-
Corruption Bureau (NABU). But few high-level prosecutions have 
taken place, calling into question the government's political 
will to pursue genuine reform.\412\ Moreover, institutions like 
NABU have come under increased pressure. In December 2017, the 
General Prosecutor's office was accused of unmasking a NABU 
investigation and some NABU officials were arrested. In 
response, the U.S. State Department said, ``These actions . . . 
undermine public trust and risk eroding international support 
for Ukraine.'' \413\ Until Ukrainian institutions, especially 
the judiciary, prove capable of prosecuting senior level 
officials from the former and current regime, the country will 
remain severely exposed and vulnerable to the Kremlin's 
interference in their country's affairs.
    \411\ Josh Cohen, ``Something is Very Wrong in Kyiv,'' The Atlantic 
Council Blog, May 18, 2017.
    \412\ Hrant Kostanyan, ``Ukraine's Unimplemented Anti-Corruption 
Reform,'' Center for European Policy Studies, Feb.10, 2017.
    \413\ Matthias Williams & Natalia Zinets, ``Ukraine Tries to Fend 
Off Critics as West Cranks Up Pressure on Corruption,'' Reuters,  Dec. 
6, 2017.
    The military conflict in Ukraine grinds on and the Russian 
government's asymmetric arsenal seeks to damage Ukraine in 
other ways. But despite the overwhelming pressure from its more 
powerful neighbor, Ukraine has proven remarkably resilient with 
help from friends in the international community. Ukraine is 
ground zero for Russian government aggression and deserves 
continued support. This support, however, is a two-way street. 
Oksana Syroyid, a deputy speaker of Ukraine's Parliament 
Ukraine said in 2017 that Ukraine had become a testing ground 
``for a lot of Russia's evil strategies,'' and that 
``unfortunately, we have to put up with this. Ukraine's 
experience can be used by Europe and America to understand the 
real Russian threat.''\414\ The deputy speaker is right--
despite the significant challenges remaining in Ukraine, the 
country has many valuable lessons learned since 2014.
    \414\ Andrew E. Kramer, ``To Battle Fake News, Ukrainian Show 
Features Nothing But Lies,'' The New York Times,  Feb. 26, 2017.
    While Ukraine is the main laboratory for Russian aggression 
abroad, it is also generating some of the most effective 
responses, through collaborations between the Ukrainian 
government and civil society, along with partners in the 
international community. The United States should proactively 
work with Ukraine to document and disseminate these lessons to 
other democracies facing the asymmetric arsenal.
Lessons Learned
   Cybersecurity Cooperation Can Reap Benefits for the United 
        States: The Russian cyber assault on Ukraine has been 
        relentless and multi-faceted since 2014. Ukraine is 
        where the Russian government experiments and sees what 
        can work. The United States and others in the 
        international community have taken steps to help 
        Ukraine build its defenses, but this cooperation can 
        also offer insight into how the Russian government 
        conducts these operations and thus provide a forecast 
        for the types of attacks we will see in the future. 
        Cooperation with Ukraine to counter these threats is a 
        critically important element of building the United 
        States' defenses.

   Countering Disinformation Begins with Awareness: Civil 
        society organizations like StopFake have led the way in 
        developing innovative techniques to dispel lies in the 
        media, which has in turn helped to build resilience and 
        skepticism within the Ukrainian population. This 
        critical thinking ability is the first step towards 
        blunting the effect of lies from Moscow. NGOs in 
        vulnerable countries should look to StopFake as a 
        model, not only for the effectiveness of its 
        techniques, but the courage of its staff.

   Civil Society Matters: Since the 2014 Euromaidan 
        demonstrations, civil society organizations in Ukraine 
        have played a key watchdog role in holding the 
        government accountable and calling for reform. This 
        pressure from the Ukrainian people, channeled through 
        these groups has led to concrete reforms, particularly 
        in building anti-corruption institutions. International 
        efforts to support civil society in Ukraine are 
        critical; even though they have grown in strength and 
        effectiveness, these groups still face pressure from 
        anti-reform elements in the country.

   Corruption is Russia's Best Weapon in Ukraine: The best 
        defense against the Russian government's asymmetric 
        arsenal in Ukraine, and indeed across Europe, is the 
        existence of durable democratic institutions that are 
        less susceptible to corruption. While the Ukrainian 
        government has established credible anti-corruption 
        institutions, resistance to genuine reform remains very 
        strong and Ukraine has yet to embark on significant 
        efforts to prosecute some of the country's most 
        egregious corrupt actors. Until Ukraine shows the 
        political will to confront corruption, the country will 
        remain dangerously vulnerable to Russian aggression.

   High Level U.S. Engagement is Key: The Obama 
        Administration, primarily through former Vice President 
        Joe Biden's personal engagement, was instrumental in 
        pressuring the Ukrainian government to reform despite 
        the attendant political difficulties in making such 
        decisions. This approach garnered results, but 
        sustainable progress can only come with consistent 
        engagement and pressure from the United States.

   Sanctions Pressure Has Been Insufficient: U.S. and EU 
        sanctions have not resulted in the implementation of 
        the Minsk Agreements nor the return of Crimea to 
        Ukrainian control.\415\ The Russian government appears 
        to have been able to resist this pressure because the 
        cost imposed by sanctions has been manageable. In order 
        to achieve the desired outcomes of the Minsk Agreements 
        and return Crimea to Ukrainian control, the U.S. 
        government should significantly increase pressure and 
        use the mandates and authorities outlined in the 
        Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act 
        (CAATSA) to ramp up sanctions on pro-Kremlin entities, 
        in concert with the European Union.\416\
    \415\ The Minsk Agreements were negotiated by Germany, France, 
Russia, and Ukraine in talks in Minsk, Belarus in February 2015, under 
auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe 
(OSCE). They are comprised of a 13-point plan for resolving the 
conflict in eastern Ukraine, including a ceasefire and the withdrawal 
of heavy weapons from the front lines, to be monitored by the OSCE. The 
Agreements were concluded after the collapse of a ceasefire previously 
negotiated in Minsk (``the Minsk Protocol'') in September 2014; the 
terms have yet to be fulfilled.
    \416\ Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, P.L. 
115-44, Enacted Aug. 2, 2017 (originally introduced by Senator Ben 
Cardin as the Counteracting Russian Hostilities Act of 2017, S. 94, 
January 11, 2017).


    The 2008 invasion of Georgia is a stark example of how 
Russia exerts power--by taking territory inside another 
country. After years of rising tensions, Russian troops 
supported separatists in the South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions 
in August 2008, resulting in the Russian government's 
recognition of their independence. The conflict also represents 
the first time that cyberattacks were used alongside a military 
invasion--an innovation that the Russian government was to hone 
with the invasion of Ukrainian territory six years later. Since 
2008, Russian government propaganda and Russian support for 
political parties and civil society groups remains a 
significant problem in Georgia as pro-democratic forces in the 
country seek to deepen integration with the west.
    Leading up to August 2008, tensions had been growing in 
South Ossetia and Abkhazia, regions that had been contested 
since Georgia's independence in 1991. South Ossetian 
separatists shelled Georgian villages in early August, which 
led to the deployment of the Georgian military to the 
area.\417\ The Russian military responded by pushing the 
Georgian troops out of South Ossetia with a heavy assault of 
tanks.\418\ It soon became clear that the Russian attack was 
not limited to just conventional military means, but was much 
more comprehensive in scope.
    \417\ Jim Nichol, ``Russia-Georgia Conflict in August 2008: Context 
and Implications for U.S. Interests,'' Congressional Research Service,  
at 5, Mar. 3, 2009.
    \418\ Anne Barnard et al., ``Russians Push Past Separatist Area to 
Assault Central Georgia,'' The New York Times,  Aug. 10, 2008.
    Despite the seemingly sudden escalation into a hot war, the 
Georgian government accused the Russian government of preparing 
the hybrid battlefield a month before the invasion. As early as 
July 20, the Georgian government experienced distributed denial 
of service (DDoS) attacks and President Mikhail Saakashvili's 
website was forced to shut down for 24 hours.\419\ As Russian 
troops entered Georgian territory on August 8, the websites of 
the Georgian president, the parliament, the ministries of 
defense and foreign affairs, the national bank, and several 
news outlets were hit with cyberattacks.\420\ The Georgian 
government accused the Russian government of conducting these 
attacks, which the Kremlin denied.\421\
    \419\ Swedish Defense Research Agency, Emerging Cyber Threats and 
Russian Views on Information Warfare and Information Operations, at 44 
(Mar. 2010); John Markoff, ``Before the Gunfire, Cyberattacks,'' The 
New York Times,  Aug. 13, 2008.
    \420\ Swedish Defense Research Agency, Emerging Cyber Threats and 
Russian Views on Information Warfare and Information Operations, at 44; 
``Georgia: Russia `Conducting Cyber War,`'' The Telegraph,  Aug. 11, 
    \421\ Joseph Menn, ``Expert: Cyber-Attacks On Georgia Websites Tied 
to Mob, Russian Government, LA Times,  Aug. 13, 2008; ``Georgia: Russia 
`Conducting Cyber War,` '' The Telegraph,  Aug. 11, 2008.
    Michael Sulmeyer, a senior Pentagon official in charge of 
cyber policy during the Obama Administration, said that 
Russia's invasion was ``one of the first times you`ve seen 
conventional ground operations married with cyber activity. It 
showed not just an understanding that these techniques could be 
useful in combined ops but that the Russians were willing to do 
them. These guys implemented.'' \422\
    \422\ Evan Osnos et al., ``Trump, Putin, and the New Cold War: What 
Lay Behind Russia's Interference in the 2016 Election--And What Lies 
Ahead?,'' The New Yorker, Mar. 6, 2017.
    The governments of Estonia and Poland quickly mobilized to 
assist the Georgian government to get back online, with the 
Estonians sharing experience from the attack on their cyber 
infrastructure the year before (see Chapter 6).\423\
    \423\ Swedish Defense Research Agency, Emerging Cyber Threats and 
Russian Views on Information Warfare and Information Operations, at 44-
45 (March 2010).
    Saakashvili came to power in the wake of the Rose 
Revolution in 2003 and he quickly sought to establish stronger 
ties with Western institutions, drawing Putin's ire. At an 
April 2008 summit in Bucharest, NATO pledged to review the 
possibility of offering a Membership Action Plan to 
Georgia.\424\ Putin responded to the statement by saying that 
expansion of NATO to Russia's borders ``would be taken in 
Russia as a direct threat to the security of our 
country.''\425\ While not the only factor in Russia's 2008 
invasion, Georgia's active steps to deepen ties with NATO 
appears to have been a critical element of Russia's decision to 
    \424\ North Atlantic Treaty Organization, ``Bucharest Summit 
Declaration,'' Apr. 3, 2008.
    \425\ Michael Evans, ``Vladimir Putin Tells Summit He Wants 
Security and Friendship,'' The Times,  July 24, 2008.
    The short war would presage future Russian hybrid warfare 
in Europe, meant to resist NATO and EU enlargement and the 
consolidation of democracy on the continent. Today, Russia 
recognizes the ``independence'' of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, 
and, with the support of separatist forces, continues to 
station troops in the two breakaway regions.\426\ Moscow has 
also entered into treaties of partnership and strategic 
alliance with the two regions, further solidifying the frozen 
    \426\ ``Russia Recognizes Abkhazia, South Ossetia,'' Radio Free 
Europe/Radio Liberty,  Aug. 26, 2008; Damien Sharkov, ``Russian Troops 
Launch 3,000-Strong Drill In `Occupied` Georgian Region,'' Newsweek,  
June 13, 2017.
    The timing of the war in Georgia coincided with a political 
transition in the United States from the Bush to Obama 
Administrations. The outgoing Bush Administration seemed 
reluctant to impose sanctions on Russia for its aggression in 
the waning days of its term. The incoming Obama Administration 
sought a reset with Russia, which also precluded significant 
coercive measures to respond to the Kremlin's aggression. 
Despite the lack of a more aggressive response to Russian 
actions, both administrations did invest significantly in 
building governing institutions in Georgia and its integration 
into NATO structures.\427\
    \427\ U.S. Department of State, ``U.S. Relations with Georgia Fact 
Sheet,'' Nov. 28, 2016.
    Beyond its military assaults on Georgian territory, the 
Russian government also supports a variety of pro-Kremlin 
political parties, NGOs, and propaganda efforts in the country. 
For example, Obiektivi TV, a media outlet, reportedly relied on 
Russian funding in its support of the ultra-nationalistic 
Alliance of Patriots political party.\428\ Obiektivi's 
xenophobic, homophobic, and anti-western narrative helped the 
Alliance of Patriots clear the threshold to enter parliament 
during the October 2016 election.\429\ Russian propaganda in 
Georgia borders on the bizarre. For example, Russian propaganda 
asserts that the United States uses the ``Richard Lugar Public 
Health Research Center'' to carry out biological tests on the 
Georgian population.\430\ According to the Georgian government, 
several pro-Russian groups are active in the country, including 
the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies and Russkiy Mir 
Foundation, two well-known institutions that the Kremlin uses 
to exert its influence abroad (see Chapter 4).\431\
    \428\ IREX, Media Sustainability Index 2017: The Development of 
Sustainable Independent Media in Europe and Eurasia,  at 154 (2017).
    \429\ Ibid.
    \430\ Embassy of Georgia, Information Provided in Response to 
Questions from U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, Aug. 29, 2017.
    \431\ Ibid.
    Despite these ongoing pressures, Georgia completed an 
Association Agreement and a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade 
Area with the EU in June 2014, both important steps in the 
integration process.\432\ In addition, the country was granted 
visa-free travel by the EU in December 2015.\433\ And at NATO's 
2014 summit in Wales, the Alliance approved a Substantial NATO-
Georgia Package (SNGP), which includes ``defense capacity 
building, training, exercises, strengthened liaison, and 
opportunities to develop interoperability with Allied forces.'' 
    \432\ European Commission, ``Trade Policy, Countries and Regions: 
Georgia,'' http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/countries-and-regions/
countries/georgia (visited Dec. 31, 2017); European Commission, ``EU-
Georgia Association Agreement Fully Enters Into Force,'' July 1, 2016.
    \433\ European Commission, ``Commission Progress Report: Georgia 
Meets Criteria for Visa Liberalisation,'' Dec. 18, 2015.
    \434\ North Atlantic Treaty Organization, ``Relations with 
Georgia,'' Aug. 23, 2017.
    Cooperation in this area was given a significant boost at 
the 2014 NATO Summit in Wales, where Allied leaders endorsed a 
Substantial NATO-Georgia Package (SNGP), including defense 
capacity building, training, exercises, strengthened liaison, 
and opportunities to develop interoperability with Allied 
forces. These measures aim to strengthen Georgia's ability to 
defend itself as well as to advance its preparations towards 
NATO membership.
    The United States has also provided substantial assistance 
to Georgia since the Russian invasion in 2008, though the Trump 
Administration has requested sharp cuts in funding. Georgia 
received $47.5 million through the Assistance to Europe, 
Eurasia, and Central Asia Account in FY16; for FY18, the 
Administration requested only $28 million.\435\
    \435\ The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved $63 million 
for Georgia in this account for FY2018. Department of State, Foreign 
Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill, 2018, S. 1780, S. 
Rept. 115-153, at 51. The legislation awaits consideration by the full 
Lessons Learned
   Hybrid War is Here to Stay: The Georgia war was the first 
        instance in which cyberattacks occurred alongside a 
        military strike. These tools would be replicated and 
        refined six years later in Ukraine. The Georgia case 
        has and should continue to be very instructive for 
        other states, like the Baltics, that are vulnerable to 
        similar attacks by the Russian government.

   The Asymmetric Arsenal is Flexible: After using military 
        aggression in Georgia, the Russian government 
        maintained pressure and influence by using 
        disinformation, support for NGOs, and interference in 
        political affairs. While difficult to measure, the 
        Russian government is able to exert considerable 
        influence in Georgia using these different avenues.

   Western Commitment is Key: The United States and the EU 
        have provided significant assistance and political 
        support to Georgia in the years since the 2008 war in 
        order to bolster democratic institutions and protect 
        against Russian government aggression. This support has 
        been essential in helping to prevent renewed Russian 
        military aggression, but has not been sufficient in 
        helping Georgia to confront the full range of Russian 
        interference techniques.


    Russian malign influence in Montenegro has long been 
present and intensified in 2016 in an effort to derail the 
country's NATO bid. This renewed focus included propaganda, 
support for NGOs and political parties, and culminated in an 
alleged Russian effort to overthrow the government following 
the 2016 parliamentary election. While Russia was strongly 
opposed to Montenegro's desire to join NATO, it did not resort 
to the conventional military tactics used in Ukraine and 
Georgia, but instead relied on a hybrid mix of disinformation 
and threat of force to send the same message that integration 
with the West was unacceptable.
    That threat of force came in the form of an alleged coup 
plot, which was hatched sometime in mid-2016 when former 
Russian intelligence officers Eduard Shishmakov (who also used 
the alias Shirakov) and Vladimir Popov went to Serbia and met 
with anti-western Serbian nationalist Aleksandar Sindjelic, 
where they reportedly discussed a plan to overthrow the 
Montenegrin government following parliamentary elections that 
October.\436\ According to Senate testimony by Damon Wilson of 
the Atlantic Council, Sindjelic was the leader of a Serbian 
paramilitary group called the ``Serbian Wolves,'' which sent 
fighters to support separatists in Eastern Ukraine--where 
Sindjelic reportedly first met Shishmakov and Popov.\437\ The 
plot was simple, and, if successful, would have been 
devastating. First, Montenegro's pro-Russian Democratic Front 
(DF) political party would stage a rally in front of the 
Montenegrin parliament on Election Day. Then a broader group of 
coup plotters, dressed as policemen but with blue ribbons on 
their shoulders to differentiate them from actual officers, 
would open fire on the crowd, storm the parliament, and capture 
or kill Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic.\438\ 
Following the meeting, Sindjelic reportedly paid =130,000 to 
Mirko Velimirovic, a Montenegrin, to organize logistics and buy 
50 rifles and three boxes of ammunition.\439\
    \436\ ``Kremlin Rejects Claims Russia Had Role in Montenegro Coup 
Plot,'' The Guardian, Feb. 20, 2017; Ben Farmer, ``Reconstruction: The 
Full Incredible Story Behind Russia's Deadly Plot to Stop Montenegro 
Embracing the West,'' The Telegraph,  Feb. 18, 2017.
    \437\ Testimony by Damon Wilson, Vice President of the Atlantic 
Council, Attempted Coup in Montenegro and Malign Russian Influence in 
Europe, Hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services, 
July 13, 2017, at 1.
    \438\ Ben Farmer, ``Reconstruction: The Full Incredible Story 
behind Russia's Deadly Plot to Stop Montenegro Embracing the West,'' 
The Telegraph,  Feb. 18, 2017.
    \439\ Ibid.
    But the plot would not come to pass. Days before the 
election, Velimirovic turned himself in to police and exposed 
the conspiracy. Montenegrin security forces swept up the 
plotters, but reports have suggested that Shishmakov and Popov 
escaped and were among a group of individuals detained by the 
Serbian authorities shortly after the October election.\440\ 
But after a visit to Serbia by the head of Russia's Security 
Council (and former FSB director), Nikolai Patrushev, 
Shishmakov and Popov were reportedly released and allowed to 
return to Russia.\441\ The Russian government denies any role 
in the attempted coup plot.\442\
    \440\ Julian Borger et al., ``Serbia Deports Russians Suspected of 
Plotting Montenegro Coup,'' The Guardian, Nov. 11, 2016.
    \441\ Ibid.
    \442\ ``Russia Says It Won't Extradite Suspect In Montenegro 
Alleged Coup Attempt,'' Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty,  Nov. 1, 2017.
    The purpose of the coup plot was to create such discord in 
Montenegro that its NATO bid, or any prospects for integration 
with Europe, would be disrupted. Russia sought to destabilize 
Montenegro in the same way that it had Georgia and Ukraine, 
seeking to render it incapable of integration with Western 
democracies. This coup attempt, however, was not a one-off 
event, but the culmination of a sustained propaganda and 
interference campaign to persuade the Montenegrin people to 
oppose NATO membership.
    Following Montenegro's announcement of its intention to 
join NATO, the Russian government spoke out forcefully against 
the bid in the hopes of swaying public opinion. The Russian 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared that ``to launch NATO 
accession talks with Montenegro [is] an openly confrontationist 
move which is fraught with additional destabilizing 
consequences for the system of Euro-Atlantic security,'' and 
said the move ``directly affects the interests of the Russian 
Federation and forces us to respond accordingly.'' \443\
    \443\ The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, 
``Comment by the Information and Press Department on Invitation for 
Montenegro to Start Talks on Joining NATO,'' Dec. 2, 2015.
    That response would come in short order. Soon after 
Montenegro announced its intention to join NATO, Russia 
unleashed a propaganda campaign that included support for pro-
Russian political parties and the cultivation of anti-NATO 
civil society groups.\444\ The Democratic Front (DF) political 
party, believed to have received millions of dollars in Russian 
support, has grown from being a marginal force into 
Montenegro's main opposition party.\445\ Sergei Zheleznyak, a 
former Deputy Speaker of the Russian Duma, reportedly traveled 
to Montenegro to work with members of the Democratic 
Front.\446\ On one such visit, he allegedly sought to advance 
the idea of neutrality for Montenegro, calling it the ``Balkans 
Switzerland'' and encouraged DF activists to use it as a 
messaging tool to push back against NATO membership.\447\ The 
DF was very active throughout the debate on NATO, which 
sometimes resulted in violence. For example, activists from the 
DF were behind a demonstration in October 2015 which led to 
clashes with police.\448\
    \444\ Statement of Vesko Garcevic, Professor of the Practice of 
International Relations, The Frederick Pardee School of Global Studies, 
Boston University, Russian Interference in European Elections,  Hearing 
before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, June 28, 2017, 
at 5.
    \445\ Ben Farmer, ``Reconstruction: The Full Incredible Story 
Behind Russia's Deadly Plot to Stop Montenegro Embracing the West,'' 
The Telegraph,  Feb. 18, 2017.
    \446\ Garcevic, Russian Interference in European Elections,  at 5.
    \447\ Ibid.
    \448\ Janusz Bugajski & Margarita Assenova, ``Eurasian Disunion: 
Russia's Vulnerable Flanks,'' The Jamestown Foundation, June 2016.
    Propaganda also flowed freely through Sputnik and the pro-
Russia web portals inf4.net, and Russia reportedly directed 
resources to the non-governmental organizations ``NO to War, NO 
to NATO'' and the ``Montenegrin Movement for Neutrality'' to 
push back publicly against NATO accession.\449\
    \449\ Garcevc, Russian Interference in European Elections,  at 4.
    The Montenegrin government called for elections in October 
2016 in order to bolster its case that the public supported 
Montenegro's membership in NATO. As Mr. Wilson of the Atlantic 
Council testified, ``in the run up to this election it was 
pretty remarkable to see street signs, billboards all across 
the country, [all part of an] anti-NATO campaign. So the plan 
was to defeat the pro-NATO forces in this election through 
using the Orthodox Church, the Serbian Orthodox Church, the 
telecommunications company and the media empire, this small 
country of 600,000 was flooded with resources to tip the 
    Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, who was the main backer of 
NATO, emerged victorious with 41 percent of the vote, which he 
heralded as an indication of public support for NATO 
membership.\450\ It was not until days after the election that 
the foiling of the coup plot was made public.
    \450\ Congressional Research Service,  ``Russian Influence on 
Politics and Elections in Europe,'' June 27, 2017.
    In May 2017, Montenegro's chief prosecutor formally 
indicted 14 individuals for allegedly plotting to overthrow the 
government. They include the two alleged Russian 
``masterminds'' of the coup, Shishmakov and Popov, who are 
being tried in absentia.\451\ During the trial, witnesses have 
also testified that Chechen Republic President Ramzan Kadyrov 
had a role in the alleged conspiracy. Mr. Sindjelic testified 
that Shishmakov told him Kadyrov received a large amount of 
money to bribe a mufti in Montenegro to form a parliamentary 
coalition with the DF.\452\
    \451\ Ibid.; Ben Farmer, ``Reconstruction: The Full Incredible 
Story behind Russia's Deadly Plot to Stop Montenegro Embracing the 
West,'' The Telegraph,  Feb. 18, 2017.
    \452\ Alec Luhn & Ben Farmer, ``Chechnya Leader Accused of 
Involvement in Montenegro Coup,'' The Telegraph,  Nov. 29, 2017.
    U.S. officials have also weighed in on the Kremlin's 
complicity in the coup attempt. In a June 2017 Senate Foreign 
Relations Committee hearing, Deputy Assistant Secretary of 
State Hoyt Yee said that there were:

        Russian or Russian-supported actors who tried to 
        undermine the elections and probably undermine the 
        government, if not actually overthrow the government or 
        even assassinate the prime minister. This is, I think, 
        consistent with where we`ve seen Russia trying to 
        interfere in elections around the world, around Europe, 
        including our own country. It's consistent with 
        Russia's attempts to prevent countries of the Western 
        Balkans from joining NATO, from integrating further 
        with Euro-Atlantic institutions.\453\
    \453\ Testimony of Hoyt Brian Yee, Deputy Assistant Secretary of 
State, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, Southeast Europe: 
Strengthening Democracy and Countering Malign Foreign Influence,  
Hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, June 14, 

    And in testimony before the Senate Armed Serviced Committee 
in July 2017, Montenegro's Ambassador said that the ``Special 
Chief Prosecutor, in charge of the case, has publicly stated 
that the evidence in this case is (I quote) `undisputable` and 
`iron clad.' '' \454\
    \454\ Statement of Nebojsa Kaluderovic, Ambassador of Montenegro to 
the United States, Attempted Coup in Montenegro and Malign Russian 
Influence in Europe, Hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed 
Services, July 13, 2017, at 1. At the time of this writing, the trial 
of the alleged coup plotters was ongoing.
    Despite the enormous pressure from Russia described in this 
chapter, Montenegro formally joined NATO on June 5, 2017. 
Montenegro's NATO membership at this time has outsized 
importance, as it shows other NATO aspirants that it is 
possible to stand up to Russian government pressure and 
propaganda efforts and integrate with the West. This case 
should be kept in mind as the international community looks to 
engage another tier of vulnerable countries with aspirations to 
integrate further with the West. Russia should never get a veto 
over the decisions of NATO, and the Alliance should be willing 
to accept any country which meets the membership requirements 
and has support from its citizenry.
Lessons Learned
   NATO Membership Matters: Montenegro pursued NATO membership 
        at great risk and after having to implement far 
        reaching reforms. Its determination to join the 
        alliance is a testament to NATO's seminal importance in 
        the world today. The leading countries in NATO, 
        including the United States, should recognize the 
        commitment made by our most vulnerable allies to the 
        alliance and continuously reciprocate by reiterating 
        the United States' commitment to the importance of 
        NATO, particularly Article 5.

   Russia's Asymmetric Arsenal Now Includes the Alleged Use of 
        Violence Outside of the Former Soviet Space: 
        Montenegrin authorities were fortunate to uncover the 
        coup plot before it occurred, but evidence presented at 
        the trial shows that the plotters were very close to 
        succeeding. The Montenegro case shows how far the 
        Russian government was willing to go in order to stop a 
        country's membership in the Alliance--it should serve 
        as a wake-up call for other NATO and EU aspirants, 
        especially in the Balkans.

   The NATO Reform Process Can Itself Build Resilience: In a 
        July 2017 statement before the Senate Armed Services 
        Committee regarding the coup attempt, Montenegrin 
        Ambassador to the United States Nebojsa Kaludjerovic 
        said, ``it was thanks to those [NATO] reforms aimed at 
        strengthening the capacity and independence of 
        institutions to uphold the rule of law that helped 
        those very institutions to tackle such a challenge we 
        are talking about today that would have put to test 
        much more established democracies than ours.''\455\ 
        NATO should take heed and require a series of reforms 
        by aspirant countries directly focused on building 
        resiliency against threats from the Russian 
        government's asymmetric arsenal.
    \455\ Ibid.

   Montenegro Must Remain Vigilant: Now that Montenegro has 
        joined NATO, heavy-handed and overtly violent tactics 
        by Russia are less likely, but Moscow could continue to 
        exert pressure and influence in ways similar to those 
        seen in countries like Bulgaria. The international 
        community should not rest on its laurels now that 
        Montenegro is a NATO member, but should actively help 
        the government to bolster its defenses against other 
        soft power tools in Russia's asymmetric arsenal.


    Russian malign influence in the Republic of Serbia 
manifests itself through cultural ties, propaganda, energy, and 
an expanding defense relationship. Moscow also highlights deep 
roots between the countries through the Orthodox Church and a 
shared Slavic culture. This narrative has been carefully 
cultivated over the years such that Russian government 
disinformation campaigns find very fertile ground among the 
population of Serbia.\456\ Despite its close relationship with 
Moscow, the government of Serbia has made clear that its top 
priority is joining the European Union. Serbia's desire to 
maintain good relations with both the EU and Russia is 
reflective of public opinion, but may not be sustainable, as 
deeper integration may mean adopting EU decisions that run 
counter to Russian interests.\457\ Therefore, closer ties 
between Serbia and the EU could result in a significant surge 
in Russian malign influence in the country. The government of 
Serbia has done little to prepare for this eventuality and has 
taken few discernable actions to defend against Russian malign 
    \456\ Forty-two percent of Serbian citizens see Russia as Serbia's 
most supportive partner, compared to 14 percent for the EU and 12 
percent for China. Public Opinion Survey of 1,050 Serbian Adults, Sept. 
2017 (unpublished).
    \457\ While 49 percent of Serbian citizens supported joining the EU 
in September 2017, that number drops to only 28 percemt if joining the 
EU meant `'spoiling Serbia's relationship with Russia.'' Public Opinion 
Survey of 1,050 Serbian Adults, Sept. 2017 (unpublished).
    Serbian government officials' differing opinions on EU 
integration reflect a tension within the broader society 
itself. In remarks at the Serbian Economic Summit in Belgrade 
in October 2017, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Hoyt 
Brian Yee said that those countries who wished to join the 
European Union ``must very clearly demonstrate this desire.'' 
Referring to Serbia's long-standing relationship with Moscow, 
he said, ``You cannot sit on two chairs at the same time, 
especially if they are that far away.''\458\ The mixed reaction 
from the Serbian government to Yee's remarks reflected the 
point that Yee was trying to make. Tanja Miscevic, the Ministry 
of Foreign Affairs negotiator on Serbia's EU Accession bid, 
said that Yee's statement was taken out of context and that he 
understood that Serbia's ``clear foreign political strategic 
orientation'' was towards the EU.\459\ Serbia's Defense 
Minister Aleksandar Vulin, on the other hand, lashed out and 
said, ``This is not a statement made by a friend or a man 
respecting Serbia, our policy, and our right to make our own 
decisions.'' He also said that Serbia will choose its course 
regardless of what the ``great powers'' want.\460\
    \458\ ``Serbian Defense Minister Denounces U.S. Official's 
`Unfriendly` Remarks,'' Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty,  Oct. 24, 
    \459\ Ibid.
    \460\ Ibid.
    Serbia has made significant progress in talks with the EU, 
having opened 12 out of the 35 ``chapters'' required for EU 
membership.\461\ It also has the closest ties to Russia of any 
of the prospective candidates. And as it continues to make 
progress towards integration with Europe, there are signs that 
Moscow plans to increase pressure on the Balkan country to 
prevent this outcome. As Serbia's EU bid becomes more serious, 
Belgrade would be well served to examine the tools used by 
Russia laid out throughout this report and work closely with 
the EU to build its defenses.
    \461\ ``EU Opens New Negotiation Chapters With Montenegro, 
Serbia,'' Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty,  Dec. 11, 2017.
    The government of the Republic of Serbia has dedicated 
substantial resources and political capital towards joining the 
EU.\462\ But unfortunately, it has taken little action to 
defend itself from anti-EU Russian government propaganda that 
circulates throughout the country with little resistance. 
According to the U.S. State Department, the ``number of media 
outlets and NGOs taking pro-Russian stands has grown from a 
dozen to over a hundred in recent years, and the free content 
offered by Russian state outlets such as Sputnik make them the 
most quoted foreign sources in the Serbian press.'' \463\ For 
example, Sputnik articles in recent years have falsely claimed 
that Kosovar Albanians planned pogroms against Kosovar Serbs 
with the blessing of the West and that the West is fomenting 
instability in the Balkans to create a pretext for 
invasion.\464\ This propaganda appears to have had an impact. 
Since Sputnik was launched in Serbia in January 2015, Russia's 
favorability numbers among Serbians have increased from 47.8 
percent to 60 percent in June 2017.\465\
    \462\ See, e.g., Republic of Serbia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 
EU Integration Process of the Republic of Serbia, http://
the-adriatic-and-ionian-region (visited Dec. 19, 2017).
    \463\ U.S. Department of State, Background Information on Serbia 
provided to Committee Staff, June 30, 2017.
    \464\ Andrew Rettman, ``Western Balkans: EU Blindspot on Russian 
Propaganda,'' EUobserver,  December 10, 2015.
    \465\ Public Opinion Survey of 1,050 Serbian Adults, Sept. 2017 
    Most EU aspirants adopt the foreign policy directives of 
the European Union as a way to show commitment to solidarity 
even before they join. For example, Montenegro has adopted a 
top foreign policy priority of the EU--the sanctions regime on 
Russia--even though it is not a member. Once in the EU, 
countries are expected to adopt the foreign policies of the 
block on agreed-upon issues. Serbia has not signed onto the 
EU's Russia sanctions, and, given its relationship with Russia, 
it is difficult to see Belgrade agreeing to such measures in 
the foreseeable future. This tension with the EU on a central 
foreign policy priority for Brussels makes a challenging 
situation for Serbia even more difficult.
    A similar dynamic is playing out next door in Bosnia and 
Herzegovina, where parts of the government have expressed a 
desire to join NATO.\466\ In order to move forward, however, 
all three constituent ethnicities represented in the Bosnian 
presidency--the Croats, Bosniaks, and Serbs--would have to 
agree on Bosnia's NATO bid and make the commensurate reforms. 
Bosnia's Republika Srpska (RS), or Serbian Republic, is one of 
two largely autonomous constitutional entities in Bosnia. It is 
majority Serb and maintains close relations with Moscow. An RS 
objection to joining NATO would collapse any deal. Although the 
central government in Sarajevo has expressed support for 
Bosnia's implementation of a NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP), 
the parliament in RS passed a non-binding resolution in October 
2017 opposing Bosnia's potential membership in the military 
alliance.\467\ In recent years, Russia has intensified its 
relationship with RS Prime Minister Milorad Dodik, which could 
prove useful in hampering Bosnia's NATO bid. Though Dodik is 
not the head of Bosnia's government, Vladimir Putin has met 
with him on multiple occasions, despite not meeting the central 
government in Sarajevo--a breach of diplomatic protocol that 
makes clear that he is Russia's preferred interlocutor.\468\ 
The Russian government has also publicly expressed its support 
for a 2017 independence referendum in RS, which the 
Constitutional Court found violated the rights of non-Serbs in 
the country.\469\ If Bosnia were to make significant progress 
towards NATO, Russia could exert influence in RS to hamper 
forward progress. The media space is already prepared for that 
possibility, as RS media outlets rely on anti-NATO and anti-EU 
content from Sputnik's Belgrade outlet.\470\ Russian influence 
in Banja Luka, the de facto capital of RS, is pervasive--
downtown kiosks are filled with t-shirts, coffee mugs, and 
other memorabilia praising the Russian Federation and Vladimir 
    \466\ ``Bosnia Making Military Progress in NATO Bid--Alliance 
General,'' Reuters,  Nov. 14, 2017.
    \467\ ``Bosnian Serbs Pass Non-Binding Resolution against NATO 
Membership,'' Associated Press,  Oct. 18, 2017.
    \468\ Danijel Kovacevic, ``Putin-Dodik Comradeship Causes 
Uncertainty for Bosnia,'' BIRN/Balkan Insight,  June 8, 2017.
    \469\ Milivoje Pantovic et al., ``Russia Lends Full Backing to 
Bosnian Serb Referendum,'' Balkan Insight,  Sept. 20, 2016.
    \470\ John Cappello, ``Russian Information Operations in the 
Western Balkans,'' Real Clear Defense, Feb. 1, 2017.
    \471\ Observed during Committee Staff Visit to Banja Luka, July 
    As Serbia continues to work through chapters in its EU 
accession talks, Russia has employed several of the 
interference tools seen in this report, especially propaganda 
and disinformation. For example, according to Stratfor 
Worldview, the Russian state newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta 
prints Nedeljnik, a widely read weekly magazine, in Moscow 
before delivering it to Serbia.\472\ According to the Financial 
Times,  Sputnik provides online stories and news bulletins to 
20 radio stations across Serbia free of charge.\473\ More than 
100 media outlets and NGOs in Serbia can be considered pro-
Russian, a number that has spiked considerably in recent 
years.\474\ The response from the West has been sparse, but 
there are signs of competition in the information space. The 
BBC has announced plans to reengage in Serbia in 2018, seven 
years after it closed its Serbian language service. The service 
will be funded at around 600,000 annually and will 
employ 20 local staff.\475\
    \472\ ``Russia Stirs up the Hornet's Nest,'' Stratfor Worldview,  
Mar. 28, 2017.
    \473\ Andrew Byrne, ``Kremlin Backed Media Adds to Western Fears in 
Balkans'' Financial Times, March 19, 2017. In conversations with U.S. 
officials and civil society groups during a visit to Belgrade in 2017, 
Committee staff were told Serbian outlets pick up content from Sputnik 
and other Russian outlets because it is free; however, Radio Free 
Europe/Radio Liberty also provides free content that is objective and 
does not contain the same Russian propaganda messages.
    \474\ .U.S. Department of State, Background Information on Belgrade 
provided to Committee Staff, June 30, 2017.
    \475\ Ibid.
    Press freedom has also declined sharply in recent years in 
Serbia. Freedom House reported in 2017 that ``press freedom has 
eroded under the SNS-led administration of Prime Minister [now 
President] Vucic. Independent and investigative journalists 
face frequent harassment, including by government officials and 
in pro-government media. Physical attacks against journalists 
take place each year, and death threats and other intimidation 
targeting media workers are a serious concern.'' \476\ If 
Serbia's journalists are not able to conduct investigations 
without threat of censorship, violence, or intimidation, the 
ability of the country to significantly counter Russian 
propaganda may not be possible. The government of Serbia has an 
important role to play in fostering an environment where press 
freedom can thrive.
    \476\  Freedom House, Freedom of the Press 2017: Serbia (2017).
    Russia also exerts considerable influence through Serbia's 
energy sector. In 2014, Russia provided 40 percent of the 
natural gas consumed in Serbia, and, in December 2017, Serbia's 
state-owned natural gas company, Srbijagas, announced that it 
would increase imports from Gazprom by 33 percent in 2018.\477\ 
Russia's energy dominance also extends to Serbia's domestic 
oil, where Gazprom has majority ownership of the national oil 
company.\478\ While the cancellation of the South Stream 
project (see Chapter 4) caught Serbia and other countries in 
the region by surprise, there are indications that Serbia could 
be invited to participate in its replacement, Turkish Stream, 
Russia's proposed pipeline deal with Turkey.\479\ While the EU 
and United States are working with Belgrade to diversify its 
energy resources through projects like the Bulgaria-Serbia 
Interconnector, Serbia's viable short-term diversification 
options remain limited.\480\
    \477\ Janusz Bugajski and Margarita Assenova, ``Eurasian Disunion: 
Russia's Vulnerable Flanks,'' The Jamestown Foundation,  June 2016, at 
242; ``Gazprom to Increase by 33% Natgas Exports to Serbia in 2018,'' 
SeeNews,  Dec. 20, 2017.
    \478\ U.S. Department of State, Background Information on Belgrade 
provided to Committee Staff, June 30, 2017.
    \479\ Andrew Roth, ``In Diplomatic Defeat, Putin Diverts Pipeline 
to Turkey,'' The New York Times,  Dec. 1, 2014; Vincent L. Morelli, 
``Serbia: Background and U.S. Relations,'' Congressional Research 
Service,  Oct. 16, 2017.
    \480\ In January 2017, Serbia and Bulgaria signed a memorandum of 
understanding to establish a natural gas line between the cities of 
Sofia and Nis, contributing to regional efforts to diversify energy 
supplies away from Moscow. ``Bulgaria, Serbia Agree to Work on Pipeline 
to Cut Reliance on Russian Gas,'' Reuters,  Jan. 19, 2017.
    Russia is able to engage with the citizens of Serbia 
through cultural institutions, including the Orthodox Church, 
civil society associations, and under the guise of humanitarian 
assistance. Leonid Reshetnikov, a retired lieutenant general in 
the Russian intelligence service SVR and then director of the 
Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, spoke at a 2015 
conference in Serbia entitled ``Balkan Dialogue--Russia's Soft 
Power in Serbia.'' Reshetnikov has been described by former 
senior government officials in the Balkans as ``a propaganda 
fist'' and ``the right hand of Mr. Putin'' in their 
countries.\481\ He commented on the roots of the orthodox bond 
between Serbia and Russia:
    \481\ Joe Parkinson & Georgi Kantchev, ``Document: Russia Uses 
Rigged Polls, Fake News to Sway Foreign Elections,'' The Wall Street 
Journal,  Mar. 23, 2017. In addition, Reshetnikov was sanctioned by the 
United States in December 2016 for his role in a bank that financed the 
government of Syria's Bashar al-Assad. Ibid.

        [W]e have forgotten that we are a civilization that is 
        an alternative to the Anglo-Saxon civilization. Our 
        mission is to carry our civilization into the world and 
        to propose our view. Our soft power is to be loyal to 
        the principles of the Orthodox civilization. That is 
        the idea we should have in mind when we talk about the 
        influence of Russia. Why do Serbs and Russians so 
        easily find a common language? Because we have the same 
        root, we easily find a common language with the 
    \482\ The Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies, Eyes Wide Shut: 
Strengthening of Russian Soft Power in Serbia: Goals, Instruments, and 
Effects,  May 2016 (citing ``Soft Power'' of Russia in Serbia--
Possibilities and Perspectives,  NSPM [Nova Srpska Politicka Misao], 
Dec. 15, 2014 (in Serbian)).

    A core element of the Russian government narrative on its 
relationship with Serbia rests on its common heritage in the 
Orthodox Church. Church leadership in Russia and Serbia amplify 
traditional conservative messages that frequently carry anti-EU 
or anti-western tones, often focused on gay rights. These ties 
between the churches are cultivated by senior political 
leaders--Russian officials emphasize these ties on visits to 
Serbia, often making time to meet with Serbian Orthodox Church 
    \483\ See Ibid. at 71-73.
    The Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies (CEAS) has documented 
51 pro-Kremlin associations and student organizations active in 
Serbia.\484\ Among the most influential, according to CEAS, is 
SNP Nashi, a group modeled on the Russian pro-Kremlin youth 
organization Nashi (see Chapter 2).\485\ SNP Nashi was created 
in 2006 and sought to build closer ties with Moscow, while 
opposing Serbia's membership in the EU. The group's leadership 
has led efforts against pro-western voices in Serbia and has 
been sued for creating a list of ``the 30 biggest Serb 
haters.''\486\ Similar organizations include the Patriotic 
Front, which has reportedly facilitated paramilitary training 
for Serbian children in Siberia, and the Serbian Patriotic 
Movement Zavetnici, which includes many student members and has 
advocated against Kosovo independence as well as Serbia's 
proposed EU membership.\487\ In the southern city of Nis, the 
Russian government established a Russian-Serbian Humanitarian 
Center (RSHC) in 2012, ostensibly to help Serbia improve its 
emergency response capabilities and respond to natural 
disasters.\488\ U.S. officials, however, have questioned the 
center's true purpose. The former Commander of U.S. Army forces 
in Europe, Lieutenant General Ben Hodges noted his skepticism 
about Russian intentions in Nis, which is close to U.S. 
military personnel stationed across the border in Kosovo, 
saying, ``I don`t believe it's a humanitarian center. That's 
the facade, but that's not what it's for.'' \489\ In June 2017, 
testifying before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 
Deputy Assistant Secretary Yee stressed that if Serbia ``allows 
Russia to create some kind of a special center for espionage or 
other nefarious activities, it will lose control over part of 
its territory.'' \490\ The Russian government has requested 
diplomatic status for their staff at the facility, a request 
that Serbia has not yet honored.
    \484\ Ibid. at 82-99.
    \485\ Ibid. at 84. For more on Nashi, see Chapter 2.
    \486\ Ibid.
    \487\ Ibid. at 88-89.
    \488\ Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Center, ``About,'' http://
en.ihc.rs/about (visited Dec. 19, 2017).
    \489\ ``US General: Russian Center in Serbia is Not Humanitarian,'' 
In Serbia Today,  Nov. 16, 2017. Lt. Gen. Hodges retired in December 
    \490\ Statement of Hoyt Brian Yee, Deputy Assistant Secretary, 
Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, U.S. Department of State, 
Southeast Europe: Strengthening Democracy and Countering Malign Foreign 
Influence,  Hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign 
Relations, June 14, 2017.
    Security cooperation presents Russia with another powerful 
inroad into Serbia's government and society. The narrative that 
Russia is Serbia's protector on the world stage has a 
particular resonance with Serbia's population. A 2017 public 
opinion survey by the Belgrade-based Demostat research center 
found that 41 percent perceive Russia as Serbia's greatest 
friend.\491\ The Russian government takes a hard line against 
recognition of Kosovo's statehood and blocking resolutions at 
the UN on the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. Serbian President 
Aleksandar Vucic frequently meets with President Putin, and as 
recently as December 2017 called upon Russia to play a more 
active role in negotiations on Serbia's relationship with 
    \491\ Filip Rudic, ``Serbians Support Military Neutrality, Research 
Says,'' Balkan Insight,  Sept. 5, 2017.
    \492\ Filip Rudic, ``Serbia Seeks Russia Role in Kosovo Talks,'' 
Balkan Insight,  Dec. 20, 2017.
    This theme also plays out in the defense relationship 
between Russia and Serbia. In the last year, Serbia signed a 
major arms deal with Russia and sent a member of its Defense 
Attache team in Moscow to observe a Russian military exercise 
in Crimea.\493\ In October 2017, Russia provided six MiG-29 
jets, and reportedly agreed to provide 30 T-72 tanks and 30 
BRDM-2 patrol combat vehicles to Serbia, all at no charge. 
President Vucic reportedly said that Serbia is also negotiating 
the purchase of the S-300 air defense system from Russia, a 
deal which could trigger recently adopted U.S. law which 
mandates sanctions on any significant transaction with the 
Russian military or intelligence sectors.\494\
    \493\ U.S. Department of State, Background Information on Serbia 
provided to Committee Staff, June 30, 2017.
    \494\ ``Serbia Takes Delivery of First of Six MiG-29 Fighters from 
Russia,'' Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty,  Oct. 2, 2017; Countering 
America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, P.L. No. 115-44, Sec.  231 
(Enacted Aug. 2, 2017).
    Despite close military ties with Russia, Serbia also seeks 
to maintain security cooperation with NATO and the United 
States. According to the Congressional Research Service, Serbia 
participates in NATO's Partnership for Peace (PfP) program, 
including through joint exercises and training 
opportunities.\495\ According to John Cappello, a former Acting 
Defense Attache at the U.S. Embassy, Serbia held around 125 
military-to-military exchanges with the United States in 2016, 
compared to only four with Russia.\496\
    \495\ Vincent L. Morelli, ``Serbia: Background and U.S. 
Relations,'' Congressional Research Service,  Oct. 16, 2017.
    \496\ Kaitlin Lavinder, ``Russia Ramps Up Media and Military 
Influence in the Balkans,'' The Cipher Brief,  Oct. 13, 2017.
    The Russian government's asymmetric arsenal in Serbia is 
multi-faceted and very effective at maintaining public support 
for a strong relationship with Moscow. This has been achieved 
with little counter-messaging efforts on the part of the 
European Union and the United States. Given Serbia's central 
role and influence in the Balkans, any strategy to counter 
malign influence should start with Belgrade. Since the Russian 
government could significantly ramp up its malign influence 
efforts beyond current levels in the event that Serbia made 
clear strides towards joining the European Union, the 
international community should prepare for this eventuality by 
incorporating some of the best lessons learned from other 
countries across Europe.
Lessons Learned
   More Domestic Leadership is Needed to Defend Against 
        Kremlin Interference: Serbia is an important country in 
        the region, given its geographical centrality and 
        complicated recent history during the breakup of 
        Yugoslavia. As its leaders navigate a challenging 
        political environment, there is no doubt that Serbia 
        faces pressure in trying to `'sit on two chairs.'' But 
        leadership matters, and if Serbia wants to join the EU, 
        it needs to take steps to counter the Russian 
        asymmetric arsenal. Without any significant defense, 
        Russian propaganda will continue to have an impact on 
        public opinion in Serbia.

   The United States Must Reengage with Resources: U.S. 
        assistance to Serbia has been on a downward trajectory 
        in recent years. According to the Congressional 
        Research Service, the United States provided $22.9 
        million in FY2014, $14.2 million in FY2015, and $16.8 
        million in FY2016. For FY2017, the Obama Administration 
        requested approximately $23 million. The FY2018 budget 
        from the Trump Administration requested $12.1 
        million.\497\ In light of substantial assistance 
        increases authorized in the 2017 Countering America's 
        Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, USAID missions 
        across the region must reorient towards a more robust 
        effort to counter Russian malign influence.\498\ For 
        years, these missions have been on a glide path to wind 
        down operations with insufficient focus on the threat 
        posed by Russian malign influence. The challenge faced 
        by the United States and its allies across the Balkans 
        and throughout Europe requires a reorientation of 
        assistance. In approaching this reality, the United 
        States must reverse years of thinking about shrinking 
        its footprint, and instead work towards an expansive 
        and entrepreneurial approach that makes long-term 
        investments in building resiliency and strengthening 
        democratic institutions, including their ability to 
        counter disinformation. The United States should also 
        continue to support Serbia's efforts to become more 
        energy independent, and work with the EU on 
        comprehensive efforts across the region.
    \497\ Morelli, ``Serbia: Background and U.S. Relations,'' U.S. 
Department of State, Congressional Budget Justification, Department of 
State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, Fiscal Year 2018 (May 
23, 2017).
    \498\ Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, P.L. 
No. 115-44, Sec.  254 (Enacted Aug. 2, 2017).

   U.S. Officials Need to Show Up: In addition to aid, 
        countries like Serbia also need senior level and 
        consistent U.S. diplomatic engagement. The United 
        States must send a clear message that it is willing to 
        spend the time and effort necessary to support those 
        who want a democratic future in Europe. High-level 
        attention by the United States has been noticeably 
        diminished in the region since the fall of Slobodan 
        Milosevic, more than 17 years ago. Russian engagement 
        with Serbia's leadership stands in stark contrast to 
        that of the United States. President Vucic has met with 
        President Putin at least twelve times since 2012.\499\ 
        The last U.S. President to visit Belgrade was Jimmy 
        Carter in 1980.\500\ To fill this void, senior U.S. 
        officials, including members of Congress, should 
        regularly travel to the region and host high profile 
        visitors to Washington. The United States needs to send 
        a clear message that it is back and ready to work 
        seriously in cooperation with host countries and allies 
        across Europe to defend against malign influence and 
        help countries complete the integration process.
    \499\ U.S. Department of State, Background Information on Belgrade 
provided to Committee Staff, June 30, 2017.
    \500\ U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian, 
Presidential and Secretaries Travel Abroad: Jimmy Carter (1980).


    Russia exerts influence in Bulgaria through its dominant 
role in the economy, primarily in the energy sector, as well as 
propaganda, relationships with political parties, cultural 
ties, and a relationship with a Bulgarian military that 
continues to rely on Soviet-era equipment. Bulgaria's 
longstanding historical relationship with Russia makes it 
unique among the other EU and NATO countries, requiring 
continued vigilance on the nature and effect of Russian 
influence on the country.
    From a bird's eye view of downtown Sofia, Bulgaria's 
capital city, one can see the second biggest Orthodox Church in 
the Balkan Peninsula, the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. Named 
after a Russian prince, the cathedral is meant to honor the 
memory of Russian soldiers killed during the Russo-Turkish War 
of 1877-1878. Yards away stands a monument honoring Russian 
Tsar Alexander II, who led the effort to liberate Bulgaria from 
the Ottoman Empire. Alexander is sitting on a horse, facing the 
Bulgarian parliament building, an imposing reminder to the 
country's legislators of how the country gained its 
    These iconic buildings on Sofia's skyline are a telling 
perspective on Bulgaria's history and current position. Among 
the group of countries profiled in this report, Bulgaria has 
perhaps the most longstanding historical ties to Russia. During 
the Cold War, Bulgarian leaders like Todor Zhivkov sought to 
make Bulgaria the 16th Soviet Republic.\501\ Today, the 
Bulgarian Socialist Party maintains good relations with Moscow 
and its leader, Kornelia Ninova, has called for EU sanctions on 
Russia (which Bulgaria is required to implement as an EU 
member) to be lifted.\502\ The pro-Kremlin Ataka party has 
called for a closer relationship with Russia and has stridently 
opposed the European Union through a xenophobic, far-right 
agenda. Ataka's leader, Volen Siderov, opened his party's 2014 
election campaign at an event in Moscow, where he criticized 
the `'sodomite NATO.'' \503\ While public support for the party 
has diminished in recent years, its messaging continues to 
resonate with elements of the electorate. At the same time, the 
government of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has taken measures 
to push back against Russian influence, such as in September 
2015, when he denied overflight rights to Russian aircraft in 
support of its mission in Syria.\504\ The apparent disconnect 
between Bulgarian society and government--a broad affinity for 
Russia among the population combined with a strong EU and NATO 
partner in the Bulgarian government--argues for deeper U.S. 
engagement across all sectors of Bulgarian society.
    \501\ Heather A. Conley et al., Center for Strategic & 
International Studies, The Kremlin Playbook: Understanding Russian 
Influence in Central and Eastern Europe,  at 43 (Oct. 2016).
    \502\ Ibid.
    \503\ John R. Haines, ``The Suffocating Symbiosis: Russia Seeks 
Trojan Horses Inside Fractious Bulgaria's Political Corral,'' Foreign 
Policy Research Institute,  Aug. 5, 2016.
    \504\ ``Russia Says Bulgaria's Refusal of Flyovers to Syria Is a 
U.S. Plot,'' Los Angeles Times, Sept. 8, 2015.
    While the history of Bulgaria's relationship with Russia is 
rooted in its military liberation from Ottoman rule, the modern 
manifestation of Moscow's influence is more focused on soft 
power, energy economics, and political and cultural influence.
    Bulgarian public opinion polls clearly reflect an affinity 
for Russia. In its recent Trends 2017 Survey, the think tank 
GLOBSEC found that 70 percent of Bulgarians had a favorable 
opinion of Vladimir Putin, the highest of any EU country.\505\ 
Bulgaria joined NATO in 2004, but public support for the 
Alliance is tepid. When asked about Article 5 of the NATO 
charter--which considers an attack on one member as an attack 
on all--less than half of Bulgarian respondents said that they 
would support coming to the aid of a NATO ally under 
    \505\ GLOBSEC Policy Institute, GLOBSEC Trends 2017: Mixed Messages 
and Signs of Hope from Central and Eastern Europe,  at 20 (Jan. 8, 
    \506\ Ibid. at 17.
    A report by the Center for Strategic and International 
Studies (CSIS), a U.S. think tank, has characterized Russia's 
outsized role in the Bulgarian economy as ``bordering on state 
capture'' and asserts that ``the Kremlin uses a complex and 
opaque network of colluding officials within the governing 
apparatus and business community'' to advance its 
interests.\507\ Nowhere is Russian government dominance more 
apparent than in the energy sector. Bulgaria is almost 
completely dependent on Russia for oil and natural gas--90 
percent of Bulgaria's natural gas is imported from Russia and 
the country completely depends on Moscow to supply nuclear fuel 
for its two reactors, which generate 35 percent of the 
country's electricity.\508\ The CSIS report also argues that 
Moscow's ability to influence the policy making process in 
Bulgaria is considerable. During debate on the South Stream 
pipeline in the Bulgarian parliament, MPs introduced amendments 
which would have circumvented EU energy law. Gazprom also 
reportedly sent an official letter to the Bulgarian Energy 
Holding company, which provided advice on changes to the 
Bulgarian energy law in Gazprom's interests.\509\
    \507\ Ibid.
    \508\ U.S. Department of State, Background Information on Bulgaria 
provided to Committee Staff, Feb. 9, 2017.
    \509\ The Kremlin Playbook,  at 46.
    Russia canceled the Gazprom-led South Stream project in 
2014 after it attracted significant pushback from other 
countries, which in turn enabled Bulgaria to support the EU-
backed Southern Gas Corridor.\510\
    \510\ Stanley Reed & James Kanter, ``Putin's Surprise Call to Scrap 
South Stream Gas Pipeline Leaves Europe Reeling,'' The New York Times,  
Dec. 2, 2014; Radislov Dikov, Bulgaria Becomes Part of Southern Gas 
Infrastructure, Radio Bulgaria,  Mar. 21, 2015.
    Societal challenges also create openings for Russian 
influence. Bulgaria is one of the poorest countries in Europe--
it has experienced slow economic growth and many of its young 
people are leaving for Western Europe.\511\ The population is 
aging and likely more inclined towards nostalgia for Bulgaria's 
warm relations with Moscow during the Cold War. The migrant 
crisis also provides an opening for anti-Europe propaganda, one 
that political parties like Ataka have been eager to exploit. 
In 2014, its leader warned that, ``Bulgaria was melting away 
without a war'' as ``abortion, emigration, homosexuality, and 
permanent economic crisis destroyed the population.''\512\ The 
Russian government, through the Russkiy Mir Foundation, 
supports organizations outside Russia ``in partnership with the 
Russian Orthodox Church . . . to promote Russian language and 
Russian culture.'' \513\ Russkiy Mir operates six ``Russia 
Centers'' in Bulgaria focused on cultural and educational 
programs in addition to Russian-language instruction.\514\
    \511\ Ivan Krastev, ``Britain's Gain is Eastern Europe's Brain 
Drain,'' The Guardian, Mar. 24, 2015.
    \512\ John R. Haines, ``The Suffocating Symbiosis: Russia Seeks 
Trojan Horses Inside Fractious Bulgaria's Political Corral,'' Foreign 
Policy Research Institute,  Aug. 5, 2016.
    \513\ Ibid. The Foundation is a joint project of the Ministry of 
Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education and Science, and has a 
stated purpose of ``promoting the Russian language, as Russia's 
national heritage and a significant aspect of Russian and world 
culture, and supporting Russian language teaching programs abroad.'' 
Russkiy Mir Foundation, ``About Russkiy Mir Foundation,'' https://
russkiymir.ru/en/fund/index.php (visited Dec. 31, 2017).
    \514\ See Russkiy Mir Foundation, ``Russian Centers of the Russkiy 
Mir Foundation,'' https://russkiymir.ru/en/rucenter (visited Dec. 31, 
    Russia reportedly sought to exploit Bulgarian politics 
during the 2016 presidential election using techniques seen 
elsewhere across Europe.\515\ Prior to the 2016 presidential 
election, Leonid Reshetnikov, then director of the Russian 
Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS), visited Bulgaria, where 
he reportedly provided the Socialist Party with ``a secret 
strategy document proposing a road to victory at the ballot 
box'' with recommendations to ``plant fake news and promote 
exaggerated polling data.'' \516\ The document also urged the 
Socialist Party to adopt a platform that aligned with Kremlin 
interests: end sanctions on Russia, criticize NATO, and 
encourage Brexit.\517\ Reshetnikov told the Bulgarian and 
Russian media that he met with the head of the Socialist party, 
but he denies providing the dossier.\518\ Later that year, 
Rumen Radev, the Bulgarian Socialist Party candidate, would go 
on to win the presidency with 59 percent of the vote, though 
how much of its success was due to following the reported RISS 
plan is impossible to determine.\519\ And despite the alleged 
Russian support and initial concerns about Radev's candidacy, 
since becoming President, his expressions of strong support for 
NATO and the EU indicate an intention to maintain the status 
quo with these institutions.\520\
    \515\ Parkinson & Katchev, ``Document: Russia Uses Rigged Polls, 
Fake News to Sway Foreign Elections,'' The Wall Street Journal,  Mar. 
23, 2017.
    \516\ Joe Parkinson & Georgi Kantchev, ``Document: Russia Uses 
Rigged Polls, Fake News to Sway Foreign Elections,'' The Wall Street 
Journal,  Mar. 23, 2017.
    \517\ Ibid.
    \518\ Ibid.
    \519\ Tsvetelia Tsolova & Angel Krasimirov, ``Russia-Friendly 
Political Novice Wins Bulgaria Presidential Election: Exit Polls,'' 
Reuters,  Nov. 12, 2016.
    \520\ North Atlantic Treaty Organization, ``Joint Press Point with 
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of the 
Republic of Bulgaria, Rumen Radev,'' Jan. 31, 2017.
    The Kremlin has also reportedly interfered in more recent 
Bulgarian national elections. Prior to the 2017 parliamentary 
elections, Bulgarian analysts asserted that upwards of 300 
Bulgarian websites were dedicated to advancing pro-Russian 
propaganda.\521\ A 2017 report by the Human and Social Studies 
Foundation, a Bulgarian think tank, asserts that domestically-
generated pro-Russian propaganda is used as a tool to advance 
domestic political goals.\522\ For example, Bulgarian national 
Stefan Proynov runs a small troll farm in the village of 
Pliska.\523\ According to the Russian investigative website 
    \521\ Committee Staff Interview of Project Members Examining 
Russian Disinformation, Sofia University, Sofia, Bulgaria, Feb. 23, 
    \522\ ``Anti-Democratic Propaganda in Bulgaria,'' Human and Social 
Studies Foundation,  2017.
    \523\ Michael Colborne, ``Made in Bulgaria: Pro-Russian 
Propaganda,'' Coda,  May 9, 2017

        Proynov's mission runs on vengeance--specifically, 
        against the generally pro-European, center-right, GERB 
        party of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, who won re-
        election last month. Proynov claims that in 2011, GERB, 
        then Bulgaria's ruling party, and the police cooked up 
        criminal charges against him (for the illegal 
        possession of antiquities, weapons and narcotics) to 
        silence his criticism of their policies.\524\
    \524\ Ibid.

    This mutually beneficial propaganda loop is in some 
respects more powerful and more difficult to counter than 
Moscow-generated propaganda on its own.
    Despite the lukewarm support for NATO within the general 
population, Bulgaria should be lauded for its active role in 
the Alliance. It deployed troops and suffered casualties in the 
NATO-led missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.\525\ According to 
the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Department of Defense is 
funding increased exercises and training at four joint U.S.-
Bulgarian military facilities.\526\ In September 2016, the 
United States and Bulgaria conducted a NATO Joint Enhanced Air 
Policing (EAP) Mission, the first of its kind in the 
country.\527\ And in 2017, Bulgaria co-hosted the Saber 
Guardian exercise, the largest U.S. and NATO exercise in Europe 
of the year.\528\ Bulgaria's active role in NATO, however, 
remains somewhat hampered by the country's continued reliance 
on Russian-made military equipment, a legacy of the Warsaw 
Pact. In particular, Bulgarian government officials have 
expressed concern about the country's Soviet-era air defense 
systems as well as ongoing maintenance of equipment across the 
armed forces.\529\ In light of the Counteracting America's 
Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) that mandates 
sanctions on those who conduct significant transactions with 
the Russian defense and intelligence sectors, the Bulgarian 
government should be working with urgency to diminish its 
reliance on Russian arms.
    \525\ U.S. Department of State, Background Information on Bulgaria 
for Committee Staff, Feb. 9, 2017.
    \526\ Ibid.
    \527\ Ibid.
    \528\ Eric Schmitt, ``U.S. Troops Train in Eastern Europe to Echoes 
of the Cold War,'' The New York Times,  Aug. 6, 2017.
    \529\ Nick Thorpe, ``Bulgaria's Military Warned of Soviet-Era 
`Catastrophe,`'' BBC News, Oct. 14, 2014.
Lessons Learned
   Despite Pressure, Bulgaria Remains Resilient: In November 
        2006, former Russian Ambassador to the EU, Vladimir 
        Chizhov, said that ``Bulgaria is in a good position to 
        become our special partner, a sort of a Trojan horse in 
        the EU.'' \530\ More than 10 years later, this 
        prediction has not come to pass, as Bulgarian citizens 
        continue to support membership in the EU and the 
        country is an active participant in NATO.\531\ Bulgaria 
        has chosen a pro-Western path and while it has had to 
        manage pressure from Moscow, especially in the energy 
        sector, it has proven resilient on important issues 
        like security cooperation with the West and support for 
        EU sanctions on Russia. As described above however, 
        significant vulnerabilities to the Russian asymmetric 
        arsenal do persist and would benefit from additional 
        assistance and engagement from Bulgaria's democratic 
    \530\ John R. Haines, The Suffocating Symbiosis: Russia Seeks 
Trojan Horses Inside Fractious Bulgaria's Political Corral, Foreign 
Policy Research Institute, Aug. 5, 2016 (citing a November 2006 
interview with Kapital, a Bulgarian language weekly business 
    \531\ In a public opinion poll conducted by the European Commission 
in 2016, 49 percent of Bulgarian citizens expressed trust in the EU, a 
rate higher than several other countries across Western Europe. 
European Commission, Directorate-General for Communication, Standard 
Eurobarometer 86: Public opinion in the European Union, Nov. 2016, at 

   Diminished U.S. Assistance has Consequences: The United 
        States provided more than $600 million in assistance 
        for political and economic reforms in Bulgaria from 
        1990 to 2007, but this assistance was largely 
        discontinued when the country joined the EU.\532\ These 
        aid programs gave the United States the ability to 
        engage with broad swaths of Bulgarian society on the 
        merits of democratic values and the rule of law. 
        Without this programming, the United States' ability to 
        engage on these issues has been significantly hampered 
        while Russian propaganda and malign influence has 
        thrived. While the U.S. Embassy has sought to continue 
        to engage with limited resources, the diplomatic 
        challenge in countering Russian malign influence 
        remains considerable. With the dedication of more 
        diplomatic attention and resources--particularly on 
        energy diversification, addressing corruption, and 
        building up the democratic rule of law--the United 
        States will be in a position to help leaders within the 
        Bulgarian government and civil society counter Russia's 
        asymmetric arsenal.
    \532\ Congressional Research Service, ``Background on Bulgaria for 
the Nomination of Eric S. Rubin to be United States Ambassador to the 
Republic of Bulgaria,'' Oct. 2, 2015.


    In Hungary, the Russian government's asymmetric arsenal 
includes support for extreme political parties and 
organizations within the country, propaganda, and the use of 
corruption. The Russian government also enjoys a warm 
relationship with the country's Prime Minister, Viktor Orban. 
Despite Hungary's proud history of resistance to Moscow during 
the Cold War and its membership in the European Union and NATO, 
Orban has increasingly sought to deepen ties with Russia in 
recent years, calling into question the government's commitment 
to the principles which underlie these international 
    Within the EU and NATO, Prime Minister Orban is perhaps the 
most supportive leader of Vladimir Putin, his style of 
leadership, and his worldview. The platform of his party, 
Fidesz, includes an ``Eastern Opening'' foreign approach 
focused on an accommodating relationship with Moscow.\533\ 
Orban has reportedly said on several occasions that Hungary has 
shot itself in the foot by supporting sanctions against Russia, 
and that Moscow should be praised for opposing ``Western 
attempts of isolation, regime change.'' \534\ So while many 
citizens may remember with great pride the Hungarian Uprising 
of 1956 against the Soviets, today's government in Budapest is 
closer now to Moscow than at any time since the fall of the 
Berlin Wall.
    \533\ Lorant Gyori & Peter Kreko, ``Russian Disinformation and 
Extremism in Hungary,'' The Warsaw Institute Review,  Oct. 16, 2017.
    \534\ Lorant Gyori et al., Political Capital (Hungarian Think 
Tank), Does Russia Interfere in Czech, Austrian and Hungarian 
Elections?,  at 12 (2017) (translated from Hungarian, citing Orban's 
comments in August 2014, available at http://mandiner.hu/cikk/
magunkat, and his speech at the Lamfalussy Lectures Conference, Jan. 
23, 2017, available at http://www.miniszterelnok.hu/orban-viktor-
    Given Orban's positive orientation towards Moscow, his 
government has taken no discernable steps to stop or even 
discourage Russian malign influence, and appears to applaud the 
anti-EU, anti-U.S., and anti-migrant Russian propaganda because 
it aligns with the themes that Orban promotes. Instead of 
defending Hungary against Russian malign interference, Orba1n 
appears to have welcomed it. Russia has exploited this 
relatively unimpeded access by flooding Hungary with pro-
Kremlin and anti-western propaganda and reportedly providing 
support to far-right political parties and fringe militant 
    For example, in December 2017 Hungarian prosecutors charged 
Hungarian businessman and Jobbik party politician Bela Kovacs 
with spying on EU institutions on behalf of Russia.\535\ Kovacs 
joined the Jobbik party, which has espoused anti-Semitic and 
racist views, in 2005 and helped turn around its financial 
prospects.\536\ In 2010, he was elected to the European 
Parliament. Kovacs has denied the charges and no date has been 
set for his trial.
    \535\ Marton Dunai & Gergely Szakacs, ``Hungary Charges Jobbik MEP 
with Spying on EU for Russia,'' Reuters,  Dec. 6, 2017.
    \536\ Andrew Higgins, ``Intent on Unsettling E.U., Russia Taps Foot 
Soldiers from the Fringe,'' The New York Times,  Dec. 24, 2016.
    Russian intelligence also appears to be cultivating 
relationships with far-right groups in Hungary. In October 
2016, the police raided the house of Istvan Gyorkos, the leader 
of a fringe neo-Nazi group called the Hungarian National Front, 
to search for illegal weapons. A shootout ensued, and a police 
officer was killed.\537\ The New York Times reported that in 
the investigation that followed, Hungarian intelligence 
officials told a parliamentary committee that Gyorkos gathered 
regularly with Russian intelligence officers to conduct mock 
combat exercises in the area around his house.\538\ The 
Hungarian online news portal Index also reported that Gyorkos 
had been meeting with Russian intelligence officers for 
years.\539\ Hungarian security officials believe that the 
Russian intelligence sector's main goal in cultivating Gyorkos 
was to gain control of Hidfo (the Bridgehead), a website that 
was controlled by his Hungarian National Front and had a 
significant following among extremists in the country.\540\ 
Following its efforts to cultivate a relationship with Gyorkos, 
Russian intelligence was reportedly successful in commandeering 
the site and moving its server to Russia where it has been used 
as a platform to broadcast propaganda targeting the West and 
the United States.\541\ For example, the website circulated a 
fake U.S. Department of Homeland Security assessment that the 
2016 U.S. election was not a victim of cyberattacks.\542\ It 
also issued false reports that Austria sought to lift sanctions 
against Russia and that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg 
had sought to make European nations vassals of Washington.\543\
    \537\ Ibid.
    \538\ Ibid.
    \539\ Lili Bayer, ``Moscow Spooks Return to Hungary, Raising NATO 
Hackles,'' Politico,  July 19, 2017.
    \540\ Andrew Higgins, ``Intent on Unsettling E.U., Russia Taps Foot 
Soldiers from the Fringe,'' The New York Times,  Dec. 24, 2016.
    \541\ Ibid.
    \542\ Ibid.; Lili Bayer, ``Moscow Spooks Return to Hungary, Raising 
NATO Hackles,'' Politico,  July 19, 2017.
    \543\ Andrew Higgins, ``Intent on Unsettling E.U., Russia Taps Foot 
Soldiers from the Fringe,'' The New York Times,  Dec. 24, 2016.
    Russian government propaganda also finds fertile ground in 
Hungary's domestic media landscape. Content by Sputnik and RT 
is widely referenced by pro-government news sources in 
Hungary.\544\ The pro-government daily newspaper Magyar Idok 
(The Hungarian Times) has published pieces by the Strategic 
Culture website, a well-known Russian propaganda outlet.\545\ 
The Russian propaganda site New Eastern Outlook has also been 
reportedly referenced by pro-Fidesz websites like 888.hu and 
Magyar Hirlap (Hungarian Gazette).\546\ There does not appear 
to be discernable effort by the government to counter this 
    \544\ Lili Bayer, ``Fidesz-Friendly Media Peddling Russian 
Propaganda,'' The Budapest Beacon,  Nov. 17, 2016.
    \545\ Ibid.
    \546\ Ibid.
    A lack of transparency in the political process has also 
allowed for increased corruption, another opening that Russia 
can exploit. In 2016, Jozsef Peter Martin, the executive 
director of Transparency International in Hungary, said that 
``a centralised form of corruption has been developed and 
systematically pursued in Hungary.''\547\ He also directly 
criticized the government and asserted that ``turning public 
funds into private wealth using legal instruments is an 
important element of corruption in Hungary.''\548\ In 2014, 
Russia directly benefitted from this lack of transparency with 
the Paks nuclear deal, in which the Russian nuclear operator 
Rosatom was awarded a sole source contract to construct two 
plants, and the Hungarian parliament subsequently passed 
legislation which would keep details related to the deal 
classified for 30 years.\549\
    \547\ Transparency International: Hungary, ``Corruption Perceptions 
Index: 2015.''
    \548\ Ibid.
    \549\ Budapest Times, ``Paks Data to Be Classified for 30 Years,'' 
The Budapest Times,  Mar. 6, 2015.
    Since returning to power in 2010, Orban has embraced the 
concept of ``illiberal democracy'' modeled on the `'sovereign 
democracy'' advanced by Vladislav Surkov in Russia.\550\ As 
Orban deepens relations with Russia abroad, he has steadily 
eroded the democratic process at home, where Hungary's 
political opposition has been marginalized and civil society 
watchdogs have a diminished voice.\551\ Without the critical 
scrutiny provided by political opposition or civil society, 
Russian malign influence is able to spread with little 
    \550\ Zoltan Simon, ``Orban Says He Seeks to End Liberal Democracy 
in Hungary,'' Bloomberg,  July 28, 2014.
    \551\ Daniel Hegedus, ``Nations in Transit 2017 Hungary Chapter,'' 
Freedom House,  2017.
    The Hungarian public does not seem to share Orban's 
affinity for Russia or his antagonism toward western 
institutions. According to a survey by the think tank GLOBSEC, 
79 percent of Hungarians want to stay in the EU and 61 percent 
think the union is a good thing.\552\ A resounding 81 percent 
of Hungarians believe that NATO is important for their safety 
and 71 percent believe that liberal democracy is the best 
political system for Hungary, as opposed to an autocracy.\553\ 
However, 45 percent of Hungarians hold a favorable view of 
Orban, a number nearly matched by Vladimir Putin, who was seen 
sympathetically by 44 percent of Hungarians.\554\
    \552\ GLOBSEC Policy Institute, GLOBSEC Trends 2017: Mixed Messages 
and Signs of Hope from Central and Eastern Europe,  at 13 (Jan. 8, 
    \553\ Ibid. at 20.
    \554\ Ibid. at 23.
    The international community, working through existing 
watchdog efforts like the EU East StratCom Task Force, should 
aggressively uncover and publicize the scope and scale of 
Russian influence in Hungary.\555\ Orban appears to have cast 
his lot with Moscow, but the Hungarian people chose a western 
path after the fall of communism and continue to embrace those 
values. With parliamentary elections due in the spring of 2018, 
the international community should proactively seek to build 
resilience within the Hungarian population so that they are 
made fully aware of the level of Russian interference in the 
affairs of the country.
    \555\ See European Union External Action Service, ``Questions and 
Answers about the East StratCom Task Force,'' https://eeas.europa.eu/
the-east-stratcom-task-force--en (visited Dec. 14, 2017); see also 
Chapter 7.
Lessons Learned
   Opposing the Asymmetric Arsenal without a Government 
        Partner is Difficult, But not Impossible: As the United 
        States and its allies look to build resilience to 
        Russian interference in Europe, they will unfortunately 
        not find a partner in the Hungarian government. 
        Regardless, the international community should increase 
        support for transparency and anti-corruption efforts in 
        the country--the denial of U.S. visas for six Hungarian 
        officials suspected of corruption in 2014, for example, 
        was an effective step that should be replicated when 
    \556\ Rick Lyman, ``U.S. Denial of Visas for 6 in Hungary Strains 
Ties,'' The New York Times,  Oct. 20, 2014.


                 Chapter 6: Kremlin Interference in 
                     Consolidated Democracies \557\

    \557\ The countries in this chapter are defined as ``consolidated 
democracies,'' a term drawn from the Freedom House Nations in Transit 
study, which ranks and measures the progress toward or backsliding from 
democracy of 29 countries from Central Europe to Central Asia. The 
ranking is determined by an assessment of a country's national 
democratic governance, electoral process, civil society, independent 
media, local democratic governance, judicial framework and 
independence, and corruption. Countries receiving the consolidated 
democracy classification are defined as ones that ``embody the best 
policies and practices of liberal democracy, but may face challenges--
often associated with corruption--that contribute to a slightly lower 
score.'' Freedom House, Nations in Transit 2017: The False Promise of 
Populism,  at 22 (2017).

    Countries with long-standing membership in the European 
Union or NATO are increasingly aware of the nature and scope of 
Russian government threats to their populations and democratic 
processes, and have developed a series of strong responses to 
deter and defend against Kremlin interference. Geographically, 
these countries are further away from the eastern flanks of 
NATO and the EU, and are generally less susceptible to Russian 
cultural, political, or linguistic influences, yet many remain 
vulnerable to Russian government threats to their energy 
security. While these countries benefit from healthy democratic 
political systems and vibrant independent media and civil 
societies, the bonds within these systems have come under 
increasing strain as societal frustrations have grown over 
economic inequalities and the pressures of migration. These 
societal tensions have been a focus for exploitation by the 
Russian government.
    The Russian tactics of interference follow two main trends 
in this region. First, Russia seeks to exacerbate divisions 
within countries that have membership in Western institutions 
like NATO and the EU, but where corruption or vulnerabilities 
in the rule of law provide openings to erode their bonds to 
European values and institutions. This includes undermining 
their support for EU sanctions on Russia or NATO exercises on 
the continent. A primary goal is to sow discord and confusion--
since more frontal attacks by the Kremlin against these states 
are likely to invite unacceptable blowback for the Russian 
    Second, Russia seeks to exacerbate divisions in 
consolidated democracies who are seen as the flagbearers for 
European values and institutions, and thus staunchly opposed to 
the Russian government's agenda to undermine those values and 
institutions. And in its attempts to weaken the democratic 
systems of these nations, the Kremlin amplifies their perceived 
weaknesses and problems to countries on Russia's periphery, in 
an attempt to show that consolidated democracy is not a goal 
worth pursuing.


    The Russian government has sought to influence the Baltic 
countries through military intimidation, energy dependence, 
trade relations, business links, cultural ties, corruption, 
disinformation, and cyberattacks. As in Ukraine, the Kremlin 
has used the Baltics as a laboratory for its malign influence 
activities, especially in deploying hackers to engage in 
    Because of their relatively small size, large Russian-
speaking populations in Latvia and Estonia, and geographic 
proximity to Russia, the Baltic countries are subject to more 
intensive pressure from the Kremlin than other EU countries. 
Lithuania's Ambassador to the United States testified to the 
U.S. Senate that, in addition to aggressive intelligence 
operations and cyberattacks on members of parliament, the 
Kremlin has also ``used supply of energy resources, investment 
in strategically important sectors of economy and trade 
relations as a tool to influence domestic and foreign policy of 
Lithuania.'' \558\ Latvia's head intelligence agency has said 
that Russia is responsible for ``the most significant security 
threats in the Baltic sea region,'' \559\ and Lithuania's 
government has called Russia ``a major source of threats posed 
to the national security of the Republic of Lithuania.'' \560\ 
In addition, all three presidents of the Baltic states have 
also taken strong and public positions against the Kremlin's 
disinformation campaigns and supported building resiliency 
against them.\561\
    \558\ Statement of Rolandas Krisciunas, Ambassador of the Republic 
of Lithuania, Russian Policies & Intentions Toward Specific European 
Countries,  Hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations 
Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, Mar. 
7, 2017, at 8.
    \559\ The Constitution Protection Bureau of the Republic of Latvia, 
Annual Public Report 2016,  at 1 (Mar. 2017). The Constitution 
Protection Bureau (SAB) is one of three state security institutions of 
the Republic of Latvia, and is responsible for foreign intelligence and 
counter-intelligence. Ibid.
    \560\ State Security Department and Ministry of National Defense of 
Lithuania, National Security Threat Assessment 2017,  at 2.
    \561\ Eriks Selga & Benjamin Rasmussen. ``Defending the West from 
Russian Disinformation: The Role of Leadership'' Foreign Policy 
Research Institute, Nov. 13, 2017
    The Kremlin has long used the Baltic states as a testing 
ground for its asymmetric arsenal. One infamous incident 
occurred on a morning in late April 2007, when the government 
of Estonia decided to move a six-and-a-half-foot statue of a 
Soviet soldier out of the center of its capital, Tallinn, to 
another part of town. Removing the statue, placed there during 
Soviet occupation in 1947, was a controversial act--protests by 
ethnic Russians and violence the night before had damaged 
property, injured dozens, and left one person dead. Russia's 
Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, called the move 
``blasphemous.'' Other Russian officials declared that removing 
the statue was glorifying Nazism, and both the Duma and the 
Federation Council called on Putin to sanction Estonia or cut 
off bilateral relations.\562\
    \562\ Steven Lee Myers, ``Russia Rebukes Estonia for Moving Soviet 
Statue,'' The New York Times,  Apr. 27, 2007.
    What happened next was described by Estonia's then-
president, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, as ``the first time a nation-
state had been targeted using digital means for political 
objectives.'' \563\ The Internet servers of the country's 
government, security, banking, and media institutions were hit 
by distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks for two 
straight weeks, causing many of their websites to go down.\564\ 
Ilves believes the attack was coordinated by the Kremlin and 
executed by organized criminal groups, ``a public-private 
partnership'' with ``a state actor that paid mafiosos.'' \565\ 
As a senior former Pentagon official told The New Yorker,  the 
attack showed that ``Russia was going to react in a new but 
aggressive way to perceived political slights.'' \566\
    \563\ Statement of Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Former President of 
Estonia, The Modus Operandi and Toolbox of Russia and Other Autocracies 
for Undermining Democracies Throughout the World,  Hearing before the 
U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, Mar. 15, 
2017, at 3.
    \564\ Evan Osnos et al., ``Trump, Putin, and the New Cold War,'' 
The New Yorker,  Mar. 6, 2016.
    \565\ Ibid.
    \566\ Ibid.
    The Kremlin's disinformation operations in the Baltics, 
especially in Latvia and Estonia, are mostly aimed at the 
countries' Russian-speaking populations (which constitute 
nearly 27 percent of the population in Latvia and 25 percent in 
Estonia, compared to just under 6 percent in Lithuania).\567\ 
After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russian government's 
disinformation campaigns in the 1990s were largely directed at 
post-communist states like Poland and the Baltics. While 
serving as Estonia's ambassador to the United States in the 
first half of the 1990s, Ilves recalled having to respond to 
Western diplomats who showed him false news stories about his 
country. At the time, he said, Russian government 
disinformation was ``primarily an exercise in providing new 
democracies extra work to debunk invented news.'' \568\ While a 
factor, these measures did not have much of an impact in 
societies accustomed to questioning the veracity of Soviet 
propaganda efforts, and their half-hearted nature reflects the 
sclerotic state of the Russian security services at the time. 
But over the past decade, the Kremlin has supercharged its 
disinformation operations in the Baltics. Those efforts, which 
also include the use of internet trolls and NGOs, seek to 
portray the countries ``as failures--blighted by emigration and 
poverty--and run by a sinister elite of Western puppets with 
ill-disguised fascist sympathies.'' \569\
    \567\ Tomas Cizik, ``Russia Tailors Its Information Warfare to 
Specific Countries,'' European Security Journal, Nov. 6, 2017.
    \568\ Statement of Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Former President of 
Estonia, The Modus Operandi and Toolbox of Russia and Other Autocracies 
for Undermining Democracies Throughout the World,  Hearing before the 
Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, Mar. 15, 2017, at 
    \569\ Edward Lucas, The Coming Storm: Baltic Sea Security Report, 
Center for European Policy Analysis, at 11 (June 2015).
    In the Baltic states, the Kremlin's influence operations in 
the region appear to seek several objectives:

   Divide the populations along ethnic lines to establish and 
        maintain control over the local Russian diaspora, which 
        can be used as a tool of influence.

   Create mistrust among the general population toward their 
        own governments by portraying them as ethnocratic 
        regimes that are overseeing the rebirth of fascism.

   Undermine Western values and democracy and promote populism 
        and radicalism, especially by emphasizing the West's 
        degradation while playing up Russia's growing 

   Weaken or paralyze the alliances Baltic states belong to, 
        like NATO and the EU, especially by portraying their 
        governments as puppets of those supranational 
        organizations that are being used to provoke Russia 
        into military conflict.

   Ridicule or marginalize the culture, history, traditions, 
        and achievements of the Baltic states, to weaken the 
        will of local populations to defend their countries in 
        the event of a military conflict with Russia.

    Multiple studies have found that Russian-speaking 
populations in the Baltics have absorbed the narratives that 
the Kremlin's propaganda machines have concocted. For example, 
during the war between Russia and Georgia in 2008, the majority 
of ethnic Russians in Estonia were more likely to believe 
reports from Russian media than Estonian and foreign media. A 
similar result occurred during the conflict between Russia and 
Ukraine, with ethnic Russians in Latvia and Estonia believing 
the narrative put forth by Russian media and subsequently 
holding Kiev, not Moscow, responsible for the conflict.\570\
    \570\ Vladislava Vojtiskova et al., The Bear in Sheep's Clothing: 
Russia's Government-Funded Organisations in the EU,  Wilfried Martens 
Centre for European Studies, at 63 (July 2016).
    Pro-Russian narratives are also promoted by Kremlin-linked 
groups throughout the Baltic states. A 2014 report commissioned 
by the Swedish Defense Research Agency found that a large 
number of organizations that are directly or indirectly 
governed by the Russian federal government are helping to 
implement a strategy that aims to undermine ``the self-
confidence of the Baltic states as independent political 
entities'' and interfere in their domestic political 
affairs.\571\ The study also concluded that these efforts were 
all ``reinforced by systematic Russian attempts--through 
political, media and cultural outlets--to portray the Baltic 
states as `fascist', not least in terms of their treatment of 
their Russian minorities . . . . As a whole, the Russian 
strategy can be considered as aiming at destabilizing the 
Baltic states.'' \572\
    \571\ Mike Winnerstig Tools of Destablization: Russian Soft Power 
and Non-military Influence in the Baltic States,  Swedish Defense 
Research Agency, at 4 (Dec. 2014).
    \572\ Ibid.
    The head of the Latvian security service also reported that 
there is a clear link between organizations that promote the 
Kremlin's narrative and Russian-funded NGOs.\573\ According to 
the Baltic Centre for Investigative Journalism, also known as 
re:Baltica,  more than 40 NGOs in the Baltics have received 
grants from large Russian GONGOs (government-controlled NGOs) 
over the past several years, though the figure could be much 
higher as NGOs are not required to publish financial reports in 
every Baltic country.\574\ Furthermore, nearly 70 percent of 
those grant recipients are linked to pro-Kremlin political 
parties in the Baltics.\575\ Disbursing grants to NGOs is an 
important element of Russia's ``compatriots policy,'' which the 
Kremlin has stated involves ``always defend[ing] [the interests 
of Russians and Russian-speakers abroad] using political, 
diplomatic, and legal means.'' \576\ The director of Estonia's 
domestic intelligence service has noted that ``the Russian 
population or the Russian-speaking minority is a target for the 
so-called compatriots policy, the goal of which has been the 
establishment of organized groups linked to Russia capable of 
influencing another country's sovereign decisions.'' \577\
    \573\ Ibid. at 61
    \574\ Sanita Jemberga et al., ``Money From Russia: Kremlin's 
Millions,'' re:Balitca,  Aug. 27, 2015. For more on Russia's use of 
GONGOs, see Chapter 2.
    \575\ Ibid.
    \576\ Heather A. Conley et al., The Kremlin Playbook: Understanding 
Russian Influence in Central and Eastern Europe, Center for Strategic & 
International Studies, at 51 (Oct. 2016).
    \577\ Michael Weiss, ``The Estonian Spymasters: Tallin's 
Revolutionary Approach to Stopping Russian Spies,'' Foreign Affairs,  
June 3, 2014.
    The Kremlin allegedly uses its embassies in the Baltics to 
disburse funding to NGOs that promote its narrative. According 
to the Lithuanian ambassador to the United States, the 
``Russian Embassy in Lithuania directly controls, coordinates, 
and finances [the] activities [of a] variety of pro-Russian 
organizations, clubs and groups ranging from political protests 
to cultural events.'' \578\ Yet sometimes the culture of 
corruption among the Russian government bureaucracy can hamper 
the Kremlin's disinformation efforts, with embassy officials 
reportedly taking kickbacks from organizations that receive 
grants. For example, in 2016, the Russian embassy in Estonia 
disbursed $30,000 in grant money for the publication of the 
Baltiysky Mir journal. However, no issue was published in 2016, 
and Estonia's lead security agency notes that ``the best way to 
receive grants [from the Russian embassy] is to share them with 
Russian officials and diplomats.'' \579\
    \578\ Statement of Rolandas Krisciunas, Ambassador of the Republic 
of Lithuania, Russian Policies & Intentions Toward Specific European 
Countries,  Hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations 
Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, Mar. 
7, 2017, at 10.
    \579\ Estonian Internal Security Service, Estonian Internal 
Security Service Annual Review 2016,  at 8 (Apr. 17, 2017).
    Estonia's government also reports that ``[t]he Kremlin 
constantly supports and funds people who promote anti-Estonian 
propaganda narratives at events held by international 
organizations'' such as the Organization for Security and Co-
operation in Europe, where Estonian ``activists,'' whose travel 
was paid for by the Russian government, complained about 
government suppression of the ethnic Russian minority in 
Estonia.\580\ And in one example from 2015, a skinhead from St. 
Petersburg ``was sent to Estonia to be captured on film as a 
`local Nazi activist''' at a WWII battle memorial, and 
``Kremlin-controlled media was eager to pick this up as an 
example of events in Estonia.'' \581\
    \580\ Ibid. at 7.
    \581\ Ibid. at 8.
    Kremlin disinformation operations have also targeted NATO 
exercises, especially after NATO established four multinational 
battlegroups led by the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, and 
the United States, known as the Enhanced Forward Presence 
(EFP), to deter Russian military aggression in the Baltics and 
Poland. Pro-Kremlin media outlets falsely reported that German 
troops raped a 13-year-old Lithuanian girl just two days after 
the soldiers arrived to participate in NATO's EFP 
exercise.\582\ Because of its similarity to a fake story pushed 
in German media, it became known as the ``Lithuania Lisa'' 
case.\583\ Ambassador Sorin Ducaru, NATO's Assistant Secretary 
General for Emerging Security Challenges, noted that it was ``a 
clear example of information manipulation with a sense of 
weaponization, because it really was supposed to affect the 
perception about the presence of German troops as the [EFP] 
framework nation in Lithuania. It was supposed to affect 
morale; it was supposed to affect everything--the operational 
functioning.'' \584\
    \582\ 582 Statement of Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Former President of 
Estonia, The Modus Operandi and Toolbox of Russia and Other Autocracies 
for Undermining Democracies Throughout the World,  Hearing before the 
Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, Mar. 15, 2017, at 
    \583\ See Damien McGuinness, ``Russia Steps into Berlin `Rape' 
Storm Claiming German Cover-Up,'' BBC News, Jan. 27, 2016; infra, 
section on Germany.
    \584\ Teri Schultz, ``Why the `Fake Rape' Story Against German NATO 
Forces Fell Flat in Lithuania,'' Deutsche Welle, Feb. 23, 2017.
    Before another NATO exercise, hackers infiltrated the 
Lithuanian military's website and replaced the statement 
announcing the exercise with a fake one proclaiming that it was 
part of a plan for Lithuania to annex Kaliningrad, a small 
Russian exclave to the west. The head of Lithuania's National 
Cyber Security Center noted that the announcement was obviously 
fake and quickly taken down, but still spread through online 
networks and colored discussions about NATO. He summarized the 
effectiveness of such disinformation operations when he told a 
reporter that ``I don't believe in aliens, but if you see 
enough articles about aliens visiting Earth, you start to think 
`Who knows, maybe the government is hiding something.' '' \585\
    \585\ Andrew Higgins, ``Foes of Russia Say Child Pornography Is 
Planted to Ruin Them,'' The New York Times,  Dec. 9, 2016.
    As elsewhere in Europe and beyond, an extensive network of 
social media bots spread Kremlin disinformation narratives. 
According to a report by the NATO Strategic Communications 
Centre of Excellence, bot-generated messages are targeted at 
different audiences: those aimed at the West emphasize how much 
smaller Russian exercises are than NATO ones, while those 
targeting domestic audiences rarely mention Russian military 
exercises.\586\ In addition, approximately 70 percent of all 
Russian messages about NATO in the Baltics and Poland are 
created by Russian-language bots. NATO's report also found that 
Twitter was less effective at removing Russian-language 
material generated by bots than messages in English, but did 
note improvement in the platform's policing of content and 
urged continued pressure to ensure further improvements.\587\ 
NATO's analysts also noted that ``increased interest by Twitter 
and other social media companies in tackling state-sponsored 
trolls and bots may offer an explanation for the low levels of 
activity in the current observation window.'' \588\ That 
conclusion underscores the point that social media companies 
have not only great responsibility, but also strong potential 
to successfully counter Kremlin disinformation operations (and 
fake news in general).
    \586\ NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, 
Robotrolling 2017,  Issue 2, at 2, 4 (Nov. 8, 2017).
    \587\ Ibid. at 2.
    \588\ Ibid. at 6.
    The Baltic states have all taken concerted actions against 
Russian state-sponsored propaganda outlets, with methods 
ranging from outright censorship to public disregard. Since 
2014, Latvia and Lithuania have placed restrictions on several 
Russian television channels, including three-to six-month bans 
on one station owned by a Russian state broadcaster, because of 
what government authorities deemed to be dangerous and 
unbalanced reporting on the situation in Ukraine, incitement of 
discord and unrest, and warmongering.\589\ In March 2016, 
Latvia's local domain registry suspended Sputnik's domestic 
website (Sputniknews.lv) a few weeks after it was established, 
with a Foreign Ministry spokesman declaring that ``we don't 
regard Sputnik as a credible media source but as something 
else: a propaganda tool.'' \590\ Sputnik responded by placing 
its content under a .com domain and accusing Latvia of 
attacking media freedom.\591\
    \589\ Congressional Research Service, ``European Efforts to Counter 
Russian Influence Operations,''July 24, 2017.
    \590\ ``Latvia Blocks Russian Sputnik Site as Kremlin `Propaganda 
Tool','' Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Mar. 30, 2016.
    \591\ Alex Spence, ``Russia Accusses Latvia of `Blatant Censorship' 
After Sputnik News Site is Shut Down,'' Politico, Mar. 30, 2016.
    The Estonian government, while not censoring the activities 
of Kremlin-sponsored media outlets, has publicly stated that it 
does not recognize Sputnik as an independent media outlet and 
therefore its officials will not grant the organization any 
interviews. Estonia also established three Russian-language TV 
channels to provide alternate sources of news to its large 
Russian-speaking population; a poll from 2016 showed that the 
stations had captured about 20 percent of that audience.\592\ 
The Baltic states also have educational awareness programs that 
aim to counter the influence of Kremlin disinformation, such as 
a national information influence identification and analysis 
ecosystem project in Lithuania, which quickly noticed the fake 
story about the alleged rape of a teenage girl by a German 
soldier during a NATO exercise and worked to immediately debunk 
it.\593\ Latvia's ministries of defense and education have also 
paired up to improve their country's school curriculum to 
emphasize critical thinking skills and media literacy.\594\ 
Furthermore, the Baltic Centre for Media Excellence (BCME), 
based in Latvia, serves as a hub for professional Russian-
language journalism in the Baltics as well as the countries of 
the Eastern Partnership. The BCME also supports media literacy 
programs and research to better understand audiences that are 
most susceptible to propaganda.\595\
    \592\ ``US Challenges Kremlin with New Russian TV Channel,'' Daily 
Mail,  Feb. 27, 2017.
    \593\ Statement of Rolandas Krisciunas, Ambassador of the Republic 
of Lithuania, Russian Policies & Intentions Toward Specific European 
Countries,  Hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations 
Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, Mar. 
7, 2017, at 6.
    \594\ Reid Standish, ``Russia's Neighbors Respond to Putin's 
`Hybrid War,' '' Foreign Policy,  Oct. 12, 2017.
    \595\ ``Baltic Centre for Media Excellence,'' European Endowment 
for Democracy,  2017.
    In addition to counter-disinformation efforts by the state 
and the media, a network of hundreds of concerned citizens has 
sprung up in the Baltics (starting in Lithuania but later 
spreading to Latvia and Estonia, and even Finland) to fight 
against Kremlin-linked internet trolls. Styling themselves 
``elves,'' they push back against false comments on Facebook 
and on Lithuanian news websites, working not to promote their 
own propaganda but only to, in the words of their founder, 
``expose the bullshit.'' The elves have even taken their 
activities onto the street, counter-demonstrating at pro-
Kremlin events, draped in EU and U.S. flags and wearing large 
smiles--thereby making it that much more difficult for Kremlin 
propagandists to get their desired photos and videos of 
`'spontaneous'' anti-Western protests.\596\
    \596\ Michael Weiss, ``The Baltic Elves Taking on Pro-Russian 
Trolls,'' The Daily Beast,  Mar. 20, 2016.
    Estonia has the best Russian counterintelligence program in 
Europe, according to journalist Edward Lucas, author of 
Deception: Spies, Lies, and How Russia Dupes the West. As then 
Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves told Foreign Affairs in 
2014: ``We caught four moles in the last five years. That means 
one of two things. Either we're the only country in the EU with 
a mole problem, or we're the only country in the EU doing 
anything about it.'' \597\ Estonia has adopted a ``zero 
tolerance'' approach to illegal activities by Russian 
intelligence operatives and does not downplay their capture or 
trade them back to Russia. Instead, it prosecutes them to the 
maximum extent of the law and publicizes an annual report that 
reviews major cases and publicly names organizations and 
individuals that are suspected of working with the Russian 
intelligence services.\598\
    \597\ Michael Weiss, ``The Estonian Spymasters: Tallin's 
Revolutionary Approach to Stopping Russian Spies,'' Foreign Affairs,  
June 3, 2014.
    \598\ Ibid.
    Estonia's intelligence service, known as Kapo, publishes 
annual reviews that detail activities by Russian intelligence 
services and the government's responses (as do Latvia and 
Lithuania).\599\ Perhaps the most egregious case it documented 
in recent years was the incursion into sovereign Estonian 
territory and the alleged kidnapping of an Estonian Kapo 
officer by Russian security operatives in 2014.\600\ The 
officer had been investigating cross-border cigarette smuggling 
by Russian smugglers, and some assert that he was kidnapped 
because he had threatened the FSB's lucrative collaboration 
with criminal traffickers.\601\ Smugglers have also reportedly 
been recruited by the security services as spies and informants 
to assist the Kremlin's efforts to destabilize Estonia. Similar 
to the recruiting method the FSB uses with hackers, traffickers 
are reportedly threatened with jail time if they refuse to 
cooperate with Russia's security services.\602\
    \599\ ``Annual Reviews,'' Kaitsepolitseiamet, https://www.kapo.ee/
en/content/annual-reviews.html (visited on Dec. 31, 2017)
    \600\ Andrew Higgins, ``Tensions Surge in Estonia Amid a Russian 
Replay of Cold War Tactics,'' The New York Times,  Oct. 5, 2014.
    \601\ Ibid.
    \602\ Holger Roonemaa, ``These Cigarette Smugglers Are On The 
Frontlines Of Russia's Spy Wars,'' BuzzFeed News, Sept. 13, 2017.
    These comprehensive intelligence reports also help to 
inform the general public as well as civil society and 
journalists, who can use the information pursue their own 
investigations. For example, re:Baltica reporters used a clue 
from Kapo's 2014 report to trace the ownership of three Baltic 
Russian-language news sites, collectively known as Baltnews, 
through a chain of holding companies that ultimately linked 
them to Russia's state-sponsored propaganda network.\603\
    \603\ Inga Springe & Sanita Jemberga, ``Sputnik's Unknown 
Brother,'' re:Balitca,  Apr. 6, 2017,
    Kapo's reports also make clear the intentions and 
capabilities of the Kremlin's influence operations, especially 
when it comes to economic corruption, and how that knowledge 
informs its own work. For example, in its 2016 report, the 
agency noted that ``Because of the link between Russian power 
structures, criminal circles and corruption, we especially 
focus on corruption that may strengthen Russia's hold on our 
state. We have noted attempts by the Kremlin to use business 
contacts and business influence in shaping Estonia's policy. 
Relevant in this context is the business continuity and supply 
security of energy, where the role of corruption can secretly 
and considerably influence the country's energy independence.'' 
    \604\ Estonian Internal Security Service, Estonian Internal 
Security Service Annual Review 2016,  at 35 (Apr. 17, 2017).
    The Baltic states have thus made it a priority to reduce 
their historical dependence on energy supplies from Russia. 
After independence, their legacy gas infrastructure was only 
connected to countries of the former Soviet Union, not Europe. 
Russia's state-owned Gazprom and other Russian gas companies 
held large stakes--up to 50 percent--in Baltic states' natural 
gas companies, though new EU regulatory requirements led 
Gazprom to start selling its shares in those companies in 2014. 
To diversify its supplies, Lithuania opened an LNG 
regasification terminal in 2014, which has also allowed it to 
negotiate much better prices for its purchases from Russia (in 
2013 Gazprom charged Lithuania $460-$490 per 1,000 cubic 
meters, compared to an average of $370-$380 for the EU).\605\ 
At the opening ceremony of the terminal, Lithuania's president 
remarked, ``Nobody else, from now on, will be able to dictate 
to us the price of gas, or to buy our political will.'' \606\ 
There is also the potential for Lithuania to export some of the 
LNG it has imported and regasified to its Baltic neighbors, 
though such infrastructure is not in place yet.
    \605\ Aija Krutaine & Andrius Sytas, ``Baltics Can Keep Lights On 
If Russia Turns Off the Gas,'' Reuters, May 7, 2014.
    \606\ Georgi Kantchev, ``With U.S. Gas, Europe Seeks Escape From 
Russia's Energy Grip,'' The Wall Street Journal,  Feb. 25, 2016.
    As one of the most connected countries in the world, 
Estonia has long been a leader in the realm of internet 
innovation and cyber security. In 2004, Estonia proposed a NATO 
cyber defense center, which was established in Tallinn in 2008 
and consists of six branches focused on technology, strategy, 
operations, law, education and training, and support.\607\ 
Estonia is also working to strengthen the security of its 
online voting system by overhauling its software and adding new 
anti-tampering features that will help guard against potential 
hacking attacks directed by the Kremlin or other malicious 
    \607\ NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, ``About 
Us,'' https://ccdcoe.org (visited Dec. 31, 2017).
    \608\ Ott Ummelas, ``World's Most High-Tech Voting System to Get 
New Hacking Defenses,'' Bloomberg Politics,  July 18, 2017.
    Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia are clearly on the front 
line of the Kremlin's malign influence operations, and have 
suffered from some of the most egregious cyberattacks and 
disinformation campaigns yet seen in Russia's near abroad. As 
members of NATO and the EU that share borders both with Russia 
and its exclave of Kaliningrad, and which collectively host 
large Russian-speaking populations, the Baltic states are both 
primary targets and uniquely susceptible to Russian active 
measures campaigns. The United States should therefore make it 
a high priority to study the experiences of the Baltics and 
apply lessons learned to its own defenses and those of allies 
and partners around Europe, as well as increase support to the 
Baltics, in both word and deed, to further deter Kremlin 
Lessons Learned
   Public Reporting of Intelligence Findings is Effective: 
        Exposing and publicizing the nature of the threat of 
        Russian malign influence activities can be an action-
        forcing event that not only boosts public awareness, 
        but also drives effective responses from the private 
        sector, especially social media platforms, as well as 
        civil society and independent media, who can use the 
        information to pursue their own investigations.

   Strong Cyber Defenses are Critical: Estonia was one of the 
        first states to experience cyberwar operations, and the 
        Baltic states are under constant threat from Russia-
        based hackers. Strong cyber defenses are therefore key 
        to building resilience against the Kremlin's influence 
        operations. The United States can assist the Baltic 
        states to improve their cyber defenses against 
        malicious hacking by Kremlin-sponsored entities. One 
        method would be to work with the EU to train and 
        support emergency cyber response teams that can be 
        immediately deployed to assist allies that are under 
        cyberattack from malicious state or non-state actors. 
        The United States can also learn from Estonia's 
        experience in dealing with cyberattacks on critical 
        infrastructure targets, including the energy grid and 
        electoral systems.

   Cultural Exports & Exchanges Can Enhance Resilience: To 
        assist the Baltics, Lithuania's ambassador to the 
        United States believes that more American popular 
        culture in Lithuania would help neutralize the 
        Kremlin's active measures. Voice of America and Radio 
        Free Europe/Radio Liberty programs are increasingly 
        well-known in the Baltics, and combining popular 
        entertainment programming with respected and 
        independent news reporting would further their reach 
        and influence. Lithuania's ambassador has also called 
        for more and better-funded cultural exchange programs, 
        including study abroad and journalist training. These 
        measures should be supported by the U.S. 
    \609\ Statement of Rolandas Krisciunas, Ambassador of the Republic 
of Lithuania, Russian Policies & Intentions Toward Specific European 
Countries,  Hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations 
Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, Mar. 
7, 2017, at 6.


    When it comes to asserting that the West is in a state of 
moral decline, a favorite target of the Kremlin's propaganda 
machine are the Nordic states of Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and 
Norway--all members of the EU, and the latter two also members 
of NATO. For example, in 2017, one of Russia's largest TV 
stations broadcast a story that claimed Denmark's government 
had permitted the opening of an animal brothel in Copenhagen. 
The story, which included an image of a dog dressed up as a 
street prostitute, evolved in classic ``ping pong'' fashion, 
moving from a fringe online publication before being picked up 
in periphery countries like Belarus and Georgia and several 
marginal Russian media outlets. Ironically, this false report 
had first been published as just that--the original source was 
a satirical French website that posted the story as 
    \610\ ``No, Denmark is Not Legalising Sexual Abuse of Animals,'' EU 
vs. Disinfo,  Sept. 9, 2017.
    But when it comes to exhibiting strong immunity against 
Russian malign influence operations, the Nordic states are also 
exemplary. Several factors contribute to their resilience. 
First, Russia's favorability ratings among the populations of 
the Nordic countries are lower than anywhere else in the 
EU.\611\ In addition, the Nordic states have extraordinary 
educational systems that emphasize critical thinking skills, as 
well as relatively high levels of interpersonal trust and 
extremely low levels of corruption (of the 176 countries ranked 
in Transparency International's 2016 corruption index, all four 
Nordic countries ranked within the six least corrupt 
countries).\612\ While correlation does not prove causation, it 
would not be surprising if the absence of Russian corrupt 
influences, as well as strong critical thinking skills that 
inoculate against the effects of disinformation, are major 
contributing factors to the low opinion of Russia held among 
Nordic populations. In addition, the Nordic states have dealt 
with Moscow's aggression for decades, and their populations 
arguably have a built-in skepticism of and resistance to the 
Kremlin's disinformation campaigns and other malign influence 
    \611\ ``How EU Members View Russia,'' Radio Free Europe/Radio 
Liberty,  https://www.rferl.org/a/28200070.html (visited Dec. 31, 2017) 
(citing Special Eurobarometer 451--Future of Europe, Oct. 2016).
    \612\ Esteban Ortiz-Ospina & Max Roser, ``Trust,'' Our World in 
Data, https://ourworldindata.org/trust#note-2 (visited Dec. 31, 2017); 
Transparency International, Corruption Perceptions Index 2016, (Jan. 
25, 2017).
    Due to these factors, the Kremlin's traditional propaganda 
operations have had very little success in the Nordic 
countries. Sputnik closed its Danish, Finnish, Swedish, and 
Norwegian language services in 2016. Some analysts attributed 
the withdrawal to economic conditions in Russia, while others 
attributed it to the poor performance of outlets, which had 
poor command of the Nordic languages and found that conspiracy 
theories and attacks on European values did not have much 
traction among Nordic audiences.\613\
    \613\ European External Action Service, ``Disinformation Digest,'' 
Mar. 18, 2016.
    With the disappearance of traditional propaganda outlets, 
internet trolls are now the primary pro-Russia disinformation 
actors in Nordic countries, and they primarily focus on 
individual targets. Russia-affiliated activists have gone to 
great lengths to intimidate journalists who report on Russia, 
especially those carrying out investigations on the trolls 
themselves, like Finnish reporter Jessikka Aro, who ``has been 
peppered with abusive emails, vilified as a drug dealer on 
social media sites and mocked as a delusional bimbo in a music 
video posted on YouTube.'' \614\ The head of Norway's national 
police has also accused Russia's intelligence services of 
targeting Norwegian individuals, especially those with dual 
citizenship or family members in Russia.\615\
    \614\ Andrew Higgins, ``Effort to Expose Russia's `Troll Army' 
Draws Vicious Retaliation,'' The New York Times,  May 30, 2016.
    \615\ Thomas Nilsen, ``Norway's PST Says Russian Intelligence 
Targets Individuals,'' The Independent Barents Observer,  Feb. 3, 2017.
    In Finland, which shares an 830-mile border with Russia, 
Russian disinformation campaigns intensified in 2012, when 
Kremlin-linked media outlets used doctored photos to accuse 
Finnish authorities of child abduction in custody battles 
between Finnish-Russian couples.\616\ And in the lead up to its 
2015 parliamentary elections, several Twitter accounts, all 
with official-sounding names that appeared to be linked to 
Finland's parliament, began tweeting about popular political 
topics.\617\ Initially, the tweets contained content that was 
considered reasonable and contributed to mainstream discussion, 
which earned the accounts a relatively large following among 
people who reportedly thought they were official parliament 
accounts. Then, just before the election, the accounts took a 
sharp turn and began tweeting misinformation and fringe 
viewpoints in an attempt to ``muddy the waters,'' according to 
Finnish government officials. The officials noted that the 
attempt was somewhat clumsy and did not accomplish its aims, 
however they also pointed out that ``genuine clumsiness should 
not lead to complacency.'' \618\
    \616\ Reid Standish, ``Why is Finland Able to Fend off Putin's 
Information War?'' Foreign Policy,  Mar. 1, 2017.
    \617\ Committee Staff Discussion with Finnish Government Officials, 
    \618\ Ibid.
    In that vein, Finnish government officials report that the 
country is strengthening its ``whole-of-society preparedness 
system . . . to take into account the new hybrid challenges,'' 
including by focusing on media literacy skills.\619\ With the 
Ukraine crisis and refugee and migrant issues in mind, the 
government recently recruited two U.S. experts from Harvard and 
MIT to work with over 100 Finnish officials on how to best 
counter disinformation campaigns. Jed Willard from Harvard 
emphasized to participants that the focus should not be on the 
Kremlin's narrative, but the Finnish narrative--that ``the best 
way to respond . . . is with a positive Finnish story.'' \620\ 
Finland has also recognized the challenge of providing 
immigrant populations, who may not speak the national language, 
with news outlets in their native language that can serve as 
alternatives to outlets from their countries of origin. To that 
end, in May 2013, Finland's state-owned television station, 
Yle, began a daily Russian-language TV news broadcast to offer 
a Finnish perspective to its Russian-speaking minority of 
approximately 70,000 people.\621\ Yle has a reported viewership 
of about 200,000 for its five-minute broadcast, which can also 
be seen in Russia.\622\ Finland has also led the establishment 
of the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid 
Threats, based in Helsinki, which will serve as think tank and 
fusion center for EU and NATO efforts across several lines of 
effort, including disinformation (see Chapter 7).
    \619\ Embassy of Finland, Information Provided in Response to 
Questions from U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, Sept. 20, 2017.
    \620\ ``US Experts Gird Finnish Officials for Information War,'' 
Yle News,  Jan. 22, 2016.
    \621\ Yle Uutiset, ``Yle's Russian Service: A Quarter-Century of 
News and Controversy,'' Oct. 10, 2015.
    \622\ Ibid.
    The Nordic states continue to raise their populations' 
awareness of and resiliency to Kremlin disinformation 
campaigns. In advance of a military exercise in Sweden, which 
also included the other Nordic states, the Baltics, and the 
United States, the defense ministries of Sweden and Denmark 
released a joint statement announcing their intention to team 
up to deter Russian government cyberattacks and disinformation 
operations.\623\ And Sweden, which will hold elections in 2018, 
has begun ramping up its defenses against disinformation 
operations through its Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency 
(MSB). The agency has picked up on fake news stories that push 
narratives claiming that Sweden is a war zone and the rape 
capital of Europe, and that it has banned Christmas lights and 
the eating of bacon on trains.\624\ Echoing the U.S. experts 
hired by Finland, the head of MSB's global analysis and 
monitoring section, Mikael Tofvesson, has emphasized that the 
MSB's strategy is not to fight fire with fire, noting that:
    \623\ Morgan Chalfant, ``Denmark, Sweden Team Up to Counter Russian 
`Fake News,' '' The Hill,  Aug. 31, 2017.
    \624\ Emma Lofgren, ``How Sweden's Getting Ready for the Election-
Year Information War,'' The Local,   Nov. 7, 2017.

        ``It's like mudwrestling a pig. You'll both get dirty, 
        but the pig will think it's quite nice. This plays into 
        their hands, whereas for us getting dirty is just a 
        pain. Instead, we have to try to stay clean and focus 
        on the part of our society that has to work: democracy 
        and freedom of expression, to make sure that giving the 
        citizens correct information becomes our best form of 
        resistance.'' \625\
    \625\ Ibid.

    Sweden has also introduced curriculum into its primary 
schools to teach ``digital competence,'' including how to 
differentiate between reliable and unreliable sources.\626\ 
Even Bamse the Bear, one of Sweden's most popular cartoon 
characters, has been recruited to help children learn about the 
dangers of fake news and the need to cross check sources of 
    \626\ Lee Roden, ``Swedish Kids to Learn Computer Coding and How to 
Spot Fake News in Primary school,'' The Local,  Mar. 13, 2017.
    \627\ Lee Roden, ``Why This Swedish Comic Hero Is Going To Teach 
Kids About Fake News,'' The Local,  Jan. 16, 2017.
    Denmark is also working to counter the Russian government's 
malign influence operations, with the country's Ministry of 
Foreign Affairs noting that ``the threat [from the Kremlin] 
against Denmark and Europe is significantly different and more 
serious than at any other time following the fall of the Berlin 
Wall'' and disinformation campaigns aimed at the public 
illustrate ``how elements of domestic and foreign policy are 
inextricably linked and require close cooperation across 
various Danish authorities.'' \628\ To that end, the Ministry 
of Foreign Affairs has recently established a new unit 
dedicated to countering pro-Kremlin disinformation 
campaigns.\629\ The unit will also lead an interagency task 
force that includes the Ministry of Defense and the 
intelligence services. Denmark is also actively promoting cyber 
defense cooperation among the EU, UN, and NATO, and has begun 
training its soldiers that participate in NATO exercises like 
Enhanced Forward Presence on disinformation threats.\630\
    \628\ Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Foreign and Security 
Policy Strategy, 2017-2018,  at 14, 15 (June 2017).
    \629\ Ibid. at 16; Embassy of Denmark, Information Provided in 
Response to Questions from U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, Sept. 14, 2017.
    \630\ Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Foreign and Security 
Policy Strategy 2017-2018,  at 15; ``Denmark to Educate Soldiers in 
Combatting Disinformation,'' EU v.Disinfo,  July 25, 2017.
    The Nordic societies also function with extremely low 
levels of corruption, and their people have high trust in both 
their government and fellow citizens--all significant factors 
in their relative immunity to the Kremlin's efforts. Yet the 
Nordic states have also clearly recognized the new nature of 
the hybrid threats they face from the Russian government and 
other malicious actors, and have taken admirable and effective 
steps to address these threats not just in their own countries, 
but also among their allies and partners around in the EU and 
NATO. The United States government should work closely with the 
Nordic states both to assist with their efforts and to learn 
how their actions and methods might be applied to build 
resiliency here in the United States.
Lessons Learned
   Disinformation is Ineffective Against a Well-Educated 
        Citizenry: By essentially inoculating the population 
        against fake news, education efforts have the greatest 
        long-term potential to neutralize the effects of the 
        Kremlin's disinformation operations, especially when 
        combined with an ``all of the above'' approach that 
        includes monitoring and reporting fake news, promoting 
        alternative positive narratives, and supporting 
        independent media and investigative journalism. 
        Furthermore, this approach tackles the problem at the 
        root; Kremlin-backed disinformation stories are just an 
        outgrowth of the rise of false stories on the 
        internet--even if the Kremlin were to order an end to 
        all of its disinformation operations tomorrow, the 
        problem of fake news stories would still exist. The 
        Kremlin's internet trolls did not invent fake news, but 
        they recognized and exploited it, using new 
        technologies to have far greater reach than past 

                            THE NETHERLANDS

    The Kremlin has launched multiple disinformation campaigns 
in the Netherlands and made attempts to interfere in its 
elections, and the Dutch government has taken several steps to 
build both national and regional resilience.
    As with the Baltics, the Dutch government has adopted a 
very visible and public approach to exposing Russian government 
interference efforts, with the security services producing 
annual reports which describe both the broad scope and specific 
activities of those efforts. The Dutch General Intelligence and 
Security Service noted in 2016 that ``the Russian intelligence 
services have their sights firmly set on the Netherlands'' and 
that ``Russia's espionage activities seek to influence 
decision-making processes, perceptions and public opinion ... 
[and] the dissemination of disinformation and propaganda plays 
an important role.'' \631\ The Dutch Military Intelligence and 
Security Service reports that the Kremlin's propaganda portrays 
Russia's engagement in various theaters as humanitarian and de-
escalating, while Western actions are depicted as anti-Russian, 
hysterical, hypocritical, and escalating.\632\
    \631\ Netherlands Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, 
General Intelligence Security Service, Annual Report 2016,  at 7.
    \632\ Netherlands Military Intelligence and Security Service, 
Annual Report 2016 (translated from Dutch).
    In April 2016, the Netherlands held a referendum on whether 
to approve a trade agreement between the EU and Ukraine. A 
left-wing member of the Dutch parliament, Harry von Bommel, 
recruited a ``Ukrainian team'' to campaign against the 
agreement. The team used public meetings, television 
appearances, and social media to portray the Ukrainian 
government as a ``bloodthirsty kleptocracy.'' \633\ Notably, 
the most active members of the team were from Russia or 
separatist areas of Ukraine.\634\ Other campaigners, including 
one from the Forum for Democracy (a research group turned 
political party that won two seats in its first election in 
2017 and often promotes the Kremlin's narrative on issues), 
retweeted a false report that Ukrainian soldiers crucified a 
three year-old Russian-speaking boy.\635\ That piece of 
propaganda got its start on Russia's primary state-controlled 
TV station and was based on an interview with a Russian actress 
posing as a Ukrainian witness.\636\ And a false video created 
by the Internet Research Agency, the troll factory in St. 
Petersburg, purported to show a group of Ukrainian volunteer 
soldiers burning a Dutch flag and threatening to launch 
terrorist attacks against the Netherlands if they voted against 
the referendum.\637\ In addition, many of the themes, 
headlines, and photographs used by the ``no'' campaign were 
reportedly borrowed from RT and Sputnik.\638\
    \633\ Andrew Higgins, ``Fake News, Fake Ukrainians: How a Group of 
Russians Tilted a Dutch Vote,'' The New York Times,  Feb. 16, 2017.
    \634\ Ibid.
    \635\ Dutch News, ``Support for Government Parties Slips in New 
Poll of Polls, FvD Rises,'' Dutch News, Nov. 8, 2017; Andrew Higgins, 
``Fake News, Fake Ukrainians: How a Group of Russians Tilted a Dutch 
Vote,'' The New York Times,  Feb. 16, 2017.
    \636\ Andrew Higgins, ``Fake News, Fake Ukrainians: How a Group of 
Russians Tilted a Dutch Vote,'' The New York Times,  Feb. 16, 2017.
    \637\ Ibid.
    \638\ Anne Applebaum, ``The Dutch Just Showed the World How Russia 
Influences Western European Elections,'' The Washington Post,  '' Apr. 
8, 2016.
    Ultimately, the referendum saw a relatively low turnout of 
32 percent of the Dutch population, with about two-thirds of 
those voting against the agreement.\639\ One Ukrainian foreign 
ministry official cited a poll which reported that 59 percent 
of those voting ``no'' said that their perception of Ukraine as 
corrupt was an important motivation for their vote; 19 percent 
believed that Ukraine was responsible for the shooting down of 
Malaysia Air Flight 17 (a common and proven false theme of 
Russian propaganda), which killed 298 people, including 193 
Dutch citizens; and 34 percent thought that the agreement would 
guarantee Ukraine's accession to the EU (the latter two points 
are demonstrably false).\640\ While anti-establishment 
sentiments and increasing voter skepticism of the EU were 
viewed as important reasons for the referendum's outcome, the 
potential effect of the disinformation campaign, not just on 
voters' choices but also on their understanding of Ukraine, 
cannot be ignored.\641\ When it perceives its interests are at 
stake, the Kremlin can be expected to carry out similar 
disinformation efforts during other referendums in Europe and 
    \639\ Ibid.
    \640\ Ibid.
    \641\ James McAuley, ``Dutch Voters Reject Trade Deal Out of Anger 
Against EU,'' The Washington Post,  Apr. 6, 2016; ``Netherlands Rejects 
EU-Ukraine Partnership Deal,'' BBC News, Apr. 7, 2016.
    The Netherlands has since worked to strengthen the 
integrity of its electoral process and systems, especially 
after the Kremlin's attack on the 2016 U.S. presidential 
election. The Dutch National Coordinator for Security and 
Counterterrorism described in its annual report how the Dutch 
government, after noting the hack of the Democratic National 
Committee in 2016, sought to enhance digital resilience before 
and during their country's March 2017 election by raising 
awareness among political parties and organizations.\642\ 
Nonetheless, some Dutch organizations and platforms were 
subject to distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, 
including websites that helped voters compare the platforms of 
different political parties.\643\ Following rumors that 
election software was potentially vulnerable to cyberattacks 
and that Russian hackers could view the Dutch elections as 
``good practice'' before the French and German elections, the 
month before the election the Minister of Interior and Kingdom 
Relations decided to switch to paper ballots only and count all 
votes by hand.\644\ According to the U.S. State Department, the 
Netherlands also requested U.S. government assistance for its 
March 2017 general election.\645\ The election appears to have 
occurred without any voting issues, and some observers noted 
that disinformation did not appear to play a large role during 
the campaign period, with fake news stories posted to Facebook 
and Twitter being quickly debunked by commentators.\646\
    \642\ Netherlands Ministry of Security and Justice, National 
Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism, Cyber Security 
Assessment Netherlands 2017, at 7 (Aug. 2017).
    \643\ Ibid. at 12.
    \644\ Thessa Lageman, ``Russian Hackers Use Dutch Polls as 
Practice,'' Deutsche Welle, Oct. 3, 2017; Ministry of Security and 
Justice, National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism, Cyber 
Security Assessment Netherlands 2017, at 35.
    \645\ U.S. Department of State, Report to Congress on Efforts by 
the Russian Federation to Undermine Elections in Europe and Eurasia,  
at 3 (Nov. 7, 2017).
    \646\ Thomas Escritt, ``Dutch Will Hand Count Ballots Due to 
Hacking Fears,'' Reuters, Feb. 1, 2017; Peter Teffer, ``Fake News or 
Hacking Absent in Dutch Election Campaign,'' EUobserver,  Mar. 15, 
    Like other countries in Europe, the Netherlands is also 
supporting independent Russian-language journalism. For 
example, Netherlands-based Free Press Unlimited Foundation 
manages a $1.4 million government grant to help develop a 
regional platform for Russian-language media organizations to 
exchange news items (see Chapter 7).\647\ When announcing the 
program, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bert Koenders, noted 
that the Dutch government was explicitly supporting independent 
media and not counterpropaganda, saying ``misinformation from 
Moscow is a threat to media diversity in all countries in which 
Russian is spoken. However, counterpropaganda is ineffective 
and goes against our democratic principles. We wish to support 
the work of independent media initiatives without dictating 
what they should write or broadcast.'' \648\
    \647\ Government of the Netherlands, Ministry of Foreign Affairs,  
``The Netherlands to Support Independent Russian-Language Media,'' Nov. 
19, 2015.
    \648\ Ibid.
Lessons Learned
   The Kremlin's Disinformation Campaigns are Selective and 
        Opportunistic: While disinformation appears to have 
        been an important factor in the 2016 referendum on the 
        EU-Ukraine trade agreement, it did not seem to play a 
        role in the 2017 parliamentary election. That suggests 
        that concerted disinformation campaigns are not simply 
        launched at every opportunity, but targeted and scaled 
        depending on the expected success of their efforts.

   Threat Awareness and Quick Adaptability are Effective 
        Resilience Measures: The Dutch government's efforts to 
        help raise awareness of and respond to potential cyber 
        threats during the 2017 election period, especially by 
        switching to paper ballots, protected the validity of 
        the election and likely deterred efforts to interfere.

                             UNITED KINGDOM

    The Russian government has sought to influence democracy in 
the United Kingdom through disinformation, cyber hacking, and 
corruption. While a complete picture of the scope and nature of 
Kremlin interference in the UK's June 2016 referendum is still 
emerging, Prime Minister Theresa May and the UK government have 
condemned the Kremlin's active measures, and various UK 
government entities,\649\ including the Electoral Commission 
and parliamentarians, have launched investigations into 
different aspects of possible Russian government meddling.\650\ 
The UK government also worked to harden cyber defenses, 
particularly before the June 2017 election.
    \649\ Rowena Mason, ``Theresa May Accuses Russia of Interfering in 
Elections and Fake News,'' The Guardian,  Nov. 14, 2017.
    \650\ Jeremy Kahn, ``UK Proves Russian Social Media Influence in 
Brexit Vote, Bloomberg Politics,  Nov. 2, 2017.
    The June 2016 referendum in which British voters opted for 
their country to leave the EU, famously dubbed ``Brexit,'' was 
a watershed moment for Western countries grappling with a 
resurgent wave of populism and nationalism in their political 
systems. Headlines the morning after the vote reflected the 
world's--and many Britons'--shock. The Washington Post assessed 
it in stark terms: ``British voters have defied the will of 
their leaders, foreign allies and much of the political 
establishment by opting to rupture this country's primary 
connection to Europe in a stunning result that will radiate 
economic and political uncertainty across the globe.'' \651\ 
What was missing, however, in the morning-after news roundup 
was discussion of the Russian government and what role it may 
have played in helping to influence British voters' decisions.
    \651\ Griff Witte et al., ``In Stunning Decision, Britain Votes to 
Leave the E.U.,'' The Washington Post,  Jun. 24, 2016.
    Indeed, the picture of potential Russian meddling in the 
June referendum vote has only begun to come into sharper focus 
as subsequent elections around the world revealed common 
elements--false or inflammatory stories circulated by bots and 
trolls, allegations of cyber hacking, stories in Russian state-
sponsored media outlets playing up fears of migration and 
globalization, and allegations of corrupt foreign influence on 
political parties and candidates--that suggested a possible 
Russian hand. The Kremlin has long aimed to undermine European 
integration and the EU, in addition to its aims to sow 
confusion and undermine confidence in democratic processes 
themselves, making Brexit a potentially appealing target.
    The allegations that have emerged of Russian interference 
prior to the Brexit referendum are all the more stunning given 
the innate resilience within British society to the Kremlin's 
anti-democratic agenda.\652\ A brief viewing of the lively 
sessions in Britain's House of Commons is a reminder of the 
country's traditions of popular representation, robust debate, 
and transparent governance. Nevertheless, analysts have cited 
pockets within the UK political system that are relatively more 
vulnerable to Russian influence.
    \652\ Neil Barnett, The Kremlin's Trojan Horses: Russian Influence 
in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, The Atlantic Council, at 18 
    British campaign finance laws generally focus on 
restricting expenditures by political parties more than 
limiting donations, though foreign donors are not considered 
``permissible donors'' under UK law.\653\ However, the 
beneficial owners of non-British companies that are 
incorporated in the EU and carry out business in the UK are 
immaterial under the law; this opacity may have enabled 
Russian-related money to be directed with insufficient scrutiny 
to various UK political actors.\654\ Investigative journalists 
have also raised questions about the sources of sudden and 
possibly illicit wealth that may have been directed to support 
the Brexit ``Leave'' campaign; the UK Electoral Commission has 
subsequently begun to investigate.\655\ Meanwhile, experts have 
pointed to the role of the far-right UK Independence Party 
(UKIP) and its leader, Nigel Farage, in fanning anti-EU 
sentiment, criticism of the European sanctions on Russia, and 
flattering assessments of Russian President Putin as well as 
far left wing views as conducive to alignment with Russia's 
anti-EU and NATO-skeptic positions.\656\
    \653\ The Political Parties, Elections and Referendum Act 2000, c. 
41, Sec. 54 (UK).
    \654\ Ibid.; Barnett, The Kremlin's Trojan Horses: Russian 
Influence in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom,  at 18.
    \655\ Alastair Sloan & Iain Campbell, ``How Did Arron Banks Afford 
Brexit?'' Open Democracy UK, Oct. 19, 2017; Holly Watt, ``Electoral 
Commission to Investigate Arron Banks' Brexit Donations,'' The 
Guardian,  Nov. 1, 2017.
    \656\ Barnett, The Kremlin's Trojan Horses: Russian Influence in 
France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, at 18.
    More broadly, there are concerns about vulnerabilities to 
Russian government influence on various UK actors, including 
political parties, civil society, and think-tanks, through 
extensive Russian financial ties and possibly illicit financial 
activity.\657\ While unrecorded inflows of cash may not 
necessarily be illicit, market research done in 2015 by 
Deutsche Bank confirmed through balance of payments data ``the 
popular belief that Russian money has flooded into the UK in 
recent years,'' particularly into the real estate market, and 
that a ``considerable chunk'' of unrecorded inflows into the 
country are the result of Russian capital flight.\658\ In March 
2015, UK Metropolitan Police noted that a total value of 180 
million British pounds in properties in the UK had been put 
under investigation as possibly purchased with corrupt proceeds 
by secretive offshore companies, in arrangements akin to 
``putting money in a Swiss bank,'' according to one 
investigator.\659\ Documents gathered and released to numerous 
media outlets in March 2017 by the Organized Crime and 
Corruption Reporting Project and Russian newspaper Novaya 
Gazeta detailed a ``global laundromat'' scheme involving an 
estimated 500 Russian oligarchs, bankers, or individuals with 
connections to the FSB who moved at least $20 billion in stolen 
or illicit money out of Russia from 2010-2014.\660\ The 
documents showed that British banks processed nearly $740 
million of this allegedly laundered money, drawing questions 
about the lack of scrutiny applied to suspicious money 
transfers and the anonymity afforded under UK law to the 
beneficial owners of British-registered companies.\661\
    \657\ Ibid. at 20-23.
    \658\ Deutsche Bank Markets Research, ``Dark Matter: The Hidden 
Capital Flows that Drive G-10 Exchange Rates,'' Mar. 2015.
    \659\ Robert Booth, ``UK Properties Held by Offshore Firms Used in 
Global Corruption, Say Police,'' The Guardian,  Mar. 3, 2015.
    \660\ Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, The Russian 
Laundromat, Aug. 22, 2014; Luke Harding et al., ``British Banks Handled 
Vast Sums of Laundered Russian Money,'' The Guardian,  Mar. 20, 2017.
    \661\ Luke Harding et al., ``British Banks Handled Vast Sums of 
Laundered Russian Money,'' The Guardian,  Mar. 20, 2017.
    With regard to cyberspace, in February 2017 the head of the 
UK's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), Ciaran Martin, 
asserted that the Russian government had stepped up its online 
aggression against Western countries.\662\ He cited 188 major 
cyberattacks over a three-month period against the UK 
government, most of which were reportedly attributable to 
Russian and Chinese actors; the NCSC reportedly blocked 34,450 
attacks over a six-month period against UK entities more 
broadly (although not all of these attacks are necessarily 
attributable to the Russian government).\663\ In a November 
2017 public speech, he indicated that Russian interference over 
the past year ``included attacks on the UK media, 
telecommunications and energy sectors.'' \664\
    \662\ Richard Kerbaj, ``Russia Steps Up Cyber-Attacks on UK,'' The 
Times,  Feb. 12, 2017.
    \663\ Pierluigi Paganini, ``Britain's Security Has Been Threatened 
by 188 Major Cyber Attacks in the Last Three Months, According to the 
Head of the National Cyber Security Centre,'' Security Affairs,  Feb. 
13, 2017.
    \664\ United Kingdom National Cyber Security Centre, ``Cyber 
Security: Fixing the Present So We Can Worry About the Future,'' Nov. 
15, 2017.
    The Russian government has also apparently sought to seize 
on populist sentiments and economic frustrations, exploiting 
the UK's generally open marketplace for free speech and 
political competition by introducing fake or misleading news. 
Officially, the Russian government asserted its neutrality on 
the question of the Brexit referendum, but its English-language 
media outlets RT and Sputnik covered the referendum campaign 
extensively and offered `'systematically one-sided coverage'' 
supporting a British departure from the European Union and 
frequently broadcasted statements from UKIP head Farage.\665\
    \665\ Ben Nimmo, ``Putin's Media are Pushing Britain for the 
Brexit,'' The Interpreter,  Feb. 12, 2016; Ministry of Foreign Affairs 
of the Russian Federation, Tweet, https://twitter.com/mfa--russia/
status/748231648936869888, June 29, 2016.
    Reporting in November 2017 on cached material from Twitter 
accounts tied to the Internet Research Agency, the Russia-based 
troll farm that generated false stories around the 2016 U.S. 
elections, CNN alleged that numerous accounts had also blasted 
out pro-Brexit messages before the UK referendum.\666\ Two 
researchers from the University of Edinburgh ultimately 
asserted that more than 400 of the Internet Research Agency 
Twitter accounts that had been active in the U.S. election had 
also been actively posting about Brexit.\667\ Meanwhile, 
research conducted by a joint team of experts from the 
University of California at Berkeley and Swansea University in 
Wales reportedly identified 150,000 Twitter accounts with 
various Russian ties that disseminated messages about Brexit 
before the referendum--interestingly, a combination of messages 
both supporting and criticizing Britain's membership in the 
European Union, which may signal that the broader aim was to 
magnify societal discord.\668\ In contrast, however, Twitter 
representatives reported in November 2017 that the company 
found only six Tweets on its platform--all generated by RT, 
which spent roughly $1,000 to promote them--constituting 
Russian-sponsored misinformation during the Brexit campaign; 
the parliamentarian chairing the select committee to whom the 
information was reported called the Twitter report a 
``completely inadequate'' response that was overly narrow in 
scope.\669\ In addition, Facebook reports that the accounts 
they ``attribute to the Internet Research Agency ran three ads 
that delivered to the UK during the relevant electoral period. 
Those ads delivered around 200 total impressions and were 
associated with a total spend of $0.97 USD.'' \670\ However, in 
limiting their investigation to just the Internet Research 
Agency, Facebook missed that it is only one troll farm which 
``has existed within a larger disinformation ecosystem in St. 
Petersburg,'' including Glavset, an alleged successor of the 
Internet Research Agency, and the Federal News Agency, a 
reported propaganda ``media farm,'' according to Russian 
investigative journalists.\671\
    \666\ Donie O'Sullivan, ``Russian Trolls Pushed Pro-Brexit Spin on 
Day of Referendum,'' CNN, Nov. 10, 2017.
    \667\ Karla Adam & William Booth, ``Rising Alarm in Britain Over 
Russian Meddling in Brexit Vote,'' The Washington Post,  Nov. 17, 2017.
    \668\ Ibid.
    \669\ Alex Hern, ``Twitter's Response to Brexit Interference 
Inquiry Inadequate, MP Says,'' The Guardian,  Dec. 14, 2017.
    \670\ Email from Facebook Official to Committee Staff.
    \671\ Diana Pilipenko, ``Facebook must `follow the money' to 
uncover extent of Russian meddling,'' The Guardian,  Oct. 9, 2017.
    With the deepening realization of the threat of Russian 
government interference, the UK government has stepped up its 
scrutiny of possible Russian intrusions into its democratic 
system and heightened its responses, from which helpful lessons 
can be drawn.
Lessons Learned

   Consolidating and Enhancing Cyber Security Can Preempt 
        Disclosure of Hacked Material: In 2016, the UK 
        established the NCSC as a ``one-stop shop'' for 
        cybersecurity within its government to protect critical 
        services from cyberattacks, manage major incidents, and 
        pursue technological improvements to bolster Internet 
        security.\672\ The UK government also recently 
        announced a $2.3 billion increase in spending on 
        cybersecurity to counter emerging threats and ``hostile 
        foreign actors.'' Some observers suggest this funding 
        increase is linked to growing concerns about Russian 
        activity.\673\ Prior to the UK's general election in 
        June 2017, the NCSC contacted political party leaders 
        and offered to help strengthen their network security 
        in light of the potential for hostile foreign state 
        action against the UK political system.\674\ British 
        officials stated after the poll that there was ``no 
        successful Russian cyber intervention'' into the 
        election process seen and asserted that systems were in 
        place to protect against electoral fraud at all levels, 
        though it is unclear the extent to which the lack of 
        meddling may have also been due to a shift in the 
        Kremlin's approach.\675\
    \672\ National Cyber Security Centre of the United Kingdom 
Government Communications Headquarters, Annual Review (2017).
    \673\ Henry Ridgwell, ``Britain Invests Billions in Cybersecurity 
in Face of Russian Threat,'' Voice of America, Nov. 4, 2016; Jamie 
Grierson, ``UK Hit by 188 High-Level Cyber-Attacks in Three Months,'' 
The Guardian,  Feb. 12, 2017.
    \674\ William James & Robin Pomeroy, ``UK Political Parties Warned 
of Russian Hacking Threat,'' Reuters, Mar. 12, 2017; Richard Kerbaj, 
``Russia Steps Up Cyber-Attacks on UK,'' The Times,  Feb. 12, 2017.
    \675\ Paul Shinkman, ``British Say Election Was Free of Russian 
Meddling,'' U.S. News & World Report, June 16, 2017.

   A Diverse, Visible Response by Government and Parliamentary 
        Actors Helps Raise Awareness of the Threat: Growing 
        revelations of possible Russian government interference 
        into the Brexit referendum and UK democracy were met 
        with a sharp warning from Prime Minister May in an 
        address in November 2017 in which she told the Kremlin, 
        ``We know what you are doing . . . and you will not 
        succeed,'' and described Russian state actions as 
        ``threatening the international order.'' \676\ In mid-
        November 2017, Prime Minister May suggested that a 
        prominent intelligence and security parliamentary 
        committee would be re-formed soon to investigate 
        Russian meddling in the British election, a development 
        called for by senior parliamentarians from both the 
        Labour and Conservative parties. Meanwhile, the 
        Commons' Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Select 
        Committee opened an inquiry in January 2017 to 
        investigate the scope and role of disinformation and 
        propaganda in Britain.\677\ As mentioned earlier, the 
        Electoral Commission opened investigations into 
        possible campaign finance violations and the source of 
        funding for the Brexit ``Leave'' campaign. On the 
        corruption front, in May 2016 the United Kingdom hosted 
        an anti-corruption summit in which 43 governments and 
        six international organizations participated, resulting 
        in a Global Declaration Against Corruption and 648 
        commitments by participating states and entities to 
        strengthen various aspects of transparency and 
        accountability for corruption.\678\ The government of 
        Former Prime Minister David Cameron announced at the 
        summit, among other steps, the launch of ``the UK's 
        public central register of company beneficial ownership 
        information for all companies incorporated in the UK'' 
        as well as for ``foreign companies who already own or 
        buy property in the UK, or who bid on UK central 
        government contracts.'' \679\ The United Kingdom in 
        April 2017 also passed into law the Criminal Finances 
        Act, which strengthens provisions against tax evasion 
        and includes a section modeled after the U.S. Global 
        Magnitsky Rule of Law and Accountability Act enabling 
        the freezing of assets of foreign officials who have 
        committed gross human rights violations.\680\
    \676\ David Kirkpatrick, ``British Cybersecurity Chief Warns of 
Russian Hacking,'' The New York Times,  Nov. 14, 2017.
    \677\ Robert Booth & Alex Hern, ``Intelligence Watchdog Urged to 
Look at Russian Influence on Brexit Vote,'' The Guardian,  Nov. 15, 
2017; United Kingdom House of Commons Select Committee Digital, 
Culture, Media and Sport Committee, ```Fake News' Inquiry Launched,'' 
Jan. 30, 2017.
    \678\ Transparency International, 3 Things We've Learned Since the 
Anti-Corrutpion Summit in London 2016, Sept. 19, 2017.
    \679\ Anti-Corruption Summit London 2016, United Kingdom Country 
Statement, at 1, May 12, 2016.
    \680\ UK Parliament, Summary of the Criminal Finances Act of 2017, 
(visited Dec. 30, 2017); ``Magnitsky Bill Turns UK into `Hostile 
Environment' for Kleptocrats,'' BBC,  Feb. 21, 2017.


    The Russian government has sought to influence democracy in 
France through the use of cyberattacks, disinformation, and 
cultural and political influence. Despite relatively strong 
historical, political, and cultural ties to Russia compared to 
other European powers, France and its new president Emmanuel 
Macron--himself a target of cyber hacking and disinformation--
are emerging as strong voices against Russian government 
interference and have played a leading role in Europe to resist 
Kremlin meddling.
    Barely three weeks after he was elected with nearly twice 
the votes of his far-right, pro-Kremlin challenger Marine Le 
Pen, French President Emmanuel Macron stood next to Russian 
President Vladimir Putin for a press conference at 
Versailles.\681\ An exhibition inside the Palace was 
celebrating the 1717 visit to Paris of Russian tsar Peter the 
Great, a figure to whom Russia's modern-day strongman is often 
compared.\682\ But that day it was Macron, after being asked 
why certain Russian media outlets were not given access to his 
campaign, who projected a forceful stance. ``I will yield 
nothing on this. Nothing, madam. So let's set things straight . 
. . Russia Today and Sputnik did not act as news outlets and 
journalists, but they acted as organs of influence, of 
propaganda, and of deceptive propaganda. It's that simple.'' 
\683\ Reports disseminated by these outlets and on pro-Kremlin 
social media had variously decried Macron as a puppet of U.S. 
political and business leaders, alleged he held an offshore 
account in the Bahamas to evade taxes, and fueled rumors of an 
extra-marital gay relationship, which Macron publicly 
    \681\ Gregor Aisch, et al., ``How France Voted,'' The New York 
Times,  May 7, 2017; Nicholas Vinocur, ``Macron, Standing by Putin, 
Calls RT and Sputnik `Agents of Influence,''' Politico, May 29, 2017.
    \682\ Nicholas Vinocur, ``Macron and the Czar at Versailles,'' 
Politico, May 29, 2017.
    \683\ James McAuley, ``French President Macron Blasts Russian 
State-Owned Media as `Propaganda,''' The Washington Post,  May 29, 
    \684\ Andrew Osborn & Richard Balmforth, ``Macron Camp Bars Russian 
News Outlets, Angers Moscow,'' Reuters, Apr. 27, 2017; Charles Bremmer, 
``Websites Pump Out Fake News Minutes After Offshore Claims,'' The 
Times,  May 5, 2017.
    For his part, Putin used the press conference to dismiss 
the notion of Russian government meddling in the French 
election, claiming Macron ``did not show any interest [in 
discussing it] and I even less.'' \685\ But investigations by 
government and non-government researchers have pointed to a 
myriad of Russian malign influence tools that were deployed in 
France prior to its 2017 election. The French response was 
multi-faceted and quick, animated by a desire to avoid falling 
victim to meddling similar to what was seen in the Brexit 
referendum and U.S. presidential election in 2016.\686\ And if, 
as it appeared, the Kremlin's goal was to undermine Macron's 
candidacy, then the French response successfully stymied that 
    \685\ James McAuley, ``French President Macron Blasts Russian 
State-Owned Media as `Propaganda,''' The Washington Post,  May 29, 
    \686\ James McAuley, ``French President Macron Blasts Russian 
State-Owned Media as `Propaganda,' '' The Washington Post,  May 29, 
2017; Committee Staff Discussion with French Foreign Ministry 
Officials, Nov. 2017.
    In recent years, the French government's posture has become 
increasingly critical toward Russian aggression in Ukraine and 
Syria. Macron's predecessor Francois Hollande in 2014 stopped 
delivery of two French warships ordered by the Kremlin and, in 
2016, suggested Russian complicity in war crimes in Aleppo--an 
allegation that prompted Putin to cancel a planned official 
visit to Paris.\687\ The French Foreign Ministry has also 
maintained that EU sanctions on the Russian Federation must 
remain in place until the Minsk Agreements are fully 
implemented.\688\ Among Western European powers, however, 
broader French society provides relatively fertile ground for 
Russian influence. The country has a long historical 
relationship with Russia, as evidenced by Franco-Russian ties 
that exist in political parties, universities, think tanks, and 
journalist circles.
    \687\ Michael Stothard, et al., ``France Suspends Delivery Of 
Mistral Warship to Russia,'' Financial Times,  Nov. 25, 2015; Kim 
Willsher & Alec Luhn, ``Vladimir Putin Cancels Paris Visit Amid Syria 
Row,'' The Guardian,  Oct. 11, 2016.
    \688\ ``France Says Russia Sanctions to Remain in Place,'' 
Associated Press,  Mar. 9, 2017.
    Pro-Kremlin sentiment has been demonstrated by actors 
across the French political spectrum, especially on the far 
right, far left, and center right. The Front National (FN), 
Marine Le Pen's Eurosceptic and ultra-nationalist party, has 
staunchly defended Russian actions in Ukraine and Syria, 
calling for ``balanced'' relations between Russia and the 
Western powers, particularly against an Islamist ``menace.'' 
\689\ FN publicly acknowledged it took a loan of nine million 
euros from the First Czech-Russian Bank in Moscow, reportedly 
owned by pro-Kremlin oligarchs, after French banks refused to 
loan money to the party because of its historically anti-
Semitic and extremist positions.\690\ In the month prior to the 
first round of the 2017 presidential election, Le Pen traveled 
to Moscow to meet with Putin and endorse the lifting of 
European sanctions on Russia, while Putin told the assembled 
press that Russia did not seek to ``influence'' the French poll 
but simply ``reserve the right to talk to all of the country's 
political forces.'' \691\ Far-left and Communist parties in 
France have been sympathetic to the Russian government, based 
on skepticism toward Europe and a shared penchant for 
statism.\692\ Meanwhile, some center-right elements in France 
have viewed Russia through the prism of business and industry 
interests--during the 2016 campaign, Republican party candidate 
Francois Fillon cautioned against a European hard line on 
sanctions and a military build-up along NATO's eastern flank, 
and dismissed assertions by U.S. government officials of 
Russian meddling in the French poll as ``fantasies.'' \693\
    \689\ Vivienne Walt, ``Why France's Marine Le Pen is Doubling Down 
on Russia Support,'' TIME,  Jan. 9, 2017.
    \690\ Ibid.; Anne-Claude Martin, ``National Front's Russian Loans 
Cause Uproar in European Parliament,'' EURACTIV.fr, Dec. 5, 2014; 
Sanita Jemberga, et al, ``How Le Pen's Party Brokered Russian Loans,'' 
EUobserver,  May 3, 2017.
    \691\ ``Le Pen Meets Putin Ahead of French Presidential Election,'' 
France 24,  Mar. 24, 2017.
    \692\ Alina Polyakova et al., The Kremlin's Trojan Horses,  
Atlantic Council, at 7-8 (Nov. 15, 2016).
    \693\ John Irish, ``Russia Not Interfering in French Elections, 
Says Candidate Fillon,'' Reuters, Mar. 31, 2017.
    The Kremlin has also cultivated ties with French civil 
society and religious actors it can exploit to influence French 
policies in Russia's favor. For example, Vladimir Yakunin, the 
former head of Russian Railways who is under U.S. sanctions, is 
the co-president of Association Dialogue Franco-Russe in Paris, 
which, in the wake of European sanctions on Russia, has 
advocated for ``normal'' ties between France and Russia to be 
promptly re-established.\694\ The Paris-based Institute for 
Democracy and Cooperation is led by a former Duma deputy, 
Natalia Narochnitskaya, and according to one expert ``toes a 
blatantly pro-Kremlin line,'' with its representatives 
regularly appearing on Russian state-controlled media.\695\ The 
Russian Orthodox Church has a significant presence in France 
and recently completed construction on a new church and 
community center near the Eiffel Tower--seen as a visible 
display of Russian might in the heart of Europe and part of the 
Kremlin's attempts to influence France's 200,000-strong Russian 
diaspora.\696\ The facility has been accorded diplomatic status 
and the community center's activities are opaque, amidst 
concerns held by some government and civil society 
interlocutors in Paris that the space could be used to house 
Russian intelligence activities.\697\
    \694\ Association Dialogue Franco-Russe, ``Board, Vladimir 
Yakunin,'' http://dialoguefrancorusse.com/en/association-uk/board/557-
vladimir-yakunin.html (visited Dec. 30, 2017); U.S. Department of the 
Treasury, ``Treasury Sanctions Russian Officials, Members Of The 
Russian Leadership's Inner Circle, And An Entity For Involvement In The 
Situation In Ukraine,'' Mar. 20, 2014; Association Dialogue Franco-
Russe, ``The Franco-Russian Dialogue is in Favor of the Imminent 
Resumption of Normal Cooperation with Russia,'' Mar. 29, 2016.
    \695\ Natalya Kanevskaya, ``How The Kremlin Wields Its Soft Power 
In France,'' Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty,  June 24, 2014.
    \696\ Antoine Blua, ``Russian `Spiritual Centre' Set to Open in the 
Heart of Paris,'' The Guardian,  Oct. 19, 2016.
    \697\ Antoine Blua, ``Russia Unveils Cultural, Orthodox Jewel On 
The Seine,'' Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Oct. 17, 2016.
    Against this backdrop of carefully fostered cultural, media 
and political ties, the Kremlin ramped up the use of additional 
information warfare tools to seize on anti-European sentiment 
around the 2017 French presidential election and discredit 
Macron in particular. For example, a study released in April by 
a UK-based firm noted that nearly one in four website links 
shared by French social media users before the French election 
``come from sources which challenge traditional media 
narratives.'' \698\ In April, a Macron campaign spokesman said 
that ``2,000 to 3,000 attempts have been made to hack the 
campaign, including denial-of-service attacks that briefly shut 
down Macron's website and more sophisticated efforts to burrow 
into email accounts of individual campaign workers.'' \699\ 
Research by a private cybersecurity firm indicated that the 
Macron campaign was a target of APT28, the same Russian 
government-linked hackers behind the World Anti-Doping Agency 
(WADA) and DNC doxing attacks.\700\ Just days before the runoff 
vote, hacked emails and documents from Emmanuel Macron's 
campaign were leaked online. The hack was first announced by an 
alt-right activist in the United States, whose tweet promoting 
the leak was reportedly spread with the help of bots and a 
network of alt-right activists before being picked up by 
Wikileaks, which ultimately published a searchable archive of 
tens of thousands of emails and documents hacked from the 
Macron campaign.\701\
    \698\ The Role and Impact of Non-Traditional Publishers in the 2017 
French Presidential Election, Bakamo, 2017; Andrew Rettman, ``Russia-
Linked Fake News Floods French Social Media,'' EUobserver,  Apr. 20, 
    \699\ Rick Noack, ``Cyberattack on French Presidential Front-Runner 
Bears Russian `Fingerprints', Research Group Says,'' The Washington 
Post,  Apr. 25, 2017.
    \700\ John Leyden, ``Kremlin-Backed DNC Hackers Going After French 
Presidential Hopeful Macron,'' The Register,  Apr. 25, 2017.
    \701\ ``Macron Leaks: The Anatomy of a Hack,'' BBC News, May 9, 
2017; ``Wikileaks Publishes Searchable Archive of Macron Campaign 
Emails,'' Reuters, July 31, 2017.
    Indications of Russian state-sponsored cyberattacks against 
French entities date back to before the 2017 presidential 
election, starkly illustrated by the massive cyberattack 
against French global broadcaster TV5Monde in 2015. In a swift 
assault, 12 of the network's channels suddenly went dark on the 
night of April 9. Within nine hours, an on-site technical team 
was able to identify and disable the malicious server (a more 
protracted delay to return to the airwaves could have resulted 
in the cancellation of contracts by satellite carriers, 
endangering the company). While messages posted on the 
company's Twitter and Facebook pages at the onset of the attack 
alleged to be from a group calling itself the ``Cyber 
Caliphate'' that espoused the Islamic State, French officials 
who investigated the attack subsequently linked it to 
APT28.\702\ The seeming aim of the attack--not to disable, but 
to destroy--suggested that it may have been ``an attempt to 
test forms of cyber weaponry as part of an increasingly 
aggressive posture,'' and the company's profits and staff were 
hampered for months until the extent of the breach could be 
addressed and more rigorous security protocols put into 
    \702\ Sam Jones, ``Russia Mobilises an Elite Band of Cyber 
Warriors,'' Financial Times,  Feb. 23, 2017.
    \703\ Gordon Corera, ``How France's TV5 Was Almost Destroyed By 
`Russian Hackers','' BBC,  Oct. 20, 2016.
    On May 9, Admiral Mike Rogers, Director of the U.S. 
National Security Agency and Commander of the U.S. Cyber 
Command acknowledged in a hearing before the Senate Armed 
Services Committee that Washington had become ``aware of 
Russian activity'' to hack French election-related 
infrastructure in the months prior to the French election and 
had signaled this to French counterparts, with an offer to 
assist in building resilience.\704\ The broader response that 
the French government pursued to counter Russian election 
meddling reflected engagement and cooperation with not only 
other governments but also media and political parties, and 
provides a helpful, comprehensive model from which the United 
States and other countries can draw.
    \704\ Testimony of Admiral Michael S. Rodgers, Commander of the 
U.S. Cyber Command, United States Cyber Command,  Hearing before the 
Senate Armed Services Committee, May 9, 2017.
Lessons Learned
   Swift Engagement with Political Parties and on Electoral 
        Infrastructure Can Blunt Effects of Meddling: In 
        response to what French authorities viewed as possible 
        Russian efforts to hack the digital infrastructure of 
        political campaigns, France's main cybersecurity 
        agency, the French Network and Information Security 
        Agency (ANSSI), warned all political parties about the 
        Russian cyber threat in the fall of 2016.\705\ ANSSI 
        subsequently offered cybersecurity awareness-raising 
        and training seminars for all French political parties 
        ahead of French elections this past spring; all parties 
        participated except for Front National, which 
        declined.\706\ ANSSI itself, created in 2007 after the 
        emergence of massive denial-of-service attacks in 
        Estonia which that government had attributed to 
        Russian-backed hackers, was the focus of increased 
        French government investment--with a 93 percent jump in 
        its budget between 2010 and 2014.\707\ And France's 
        2015 National Digital Security Strategy identified 
        spreading disinformation and propaganda ``an attack on 
        defence and national security'' to be met with a 
        response.\708\ In advance of June 2017 parliamentary 
        elections, the French government also discontinued 
        electronic voting by French citizens abroad.\709\
    \705\ Mehdi Chebil, ``France Takes Steps to Prevent an Election 
Hack Attack,'' France24,  Jan. 16, 2017.
    \706\ Laura Daniels, ``How Russia Hacked the French Election,'' 
Politico, Apr. 23, 2017.
    \707\ Nicholas Vinocur, ``France At Risk of Being Next Election 
Hacking Victim,'' Politico, Jan. 5, 2017.
    \708\ Office of the Prime Minister of France, French National 
Digital Security Strategy 2015,  at 20.
    \709\ ``France Drops Electronic Voting for Citizens Abroad Over 
Cybersecurity Fears,'' Reuters, Mar. 6, 2017. The French government had 
previously allowed its citizens abroad to vote electronically in 
legislative elections, but not presidential elections.

   Direct Diplomatic Engagement Clearly Pointing to Malicious 
        Actors and the Consequences of Their Actions Can Act as 
        a Deterrent: In a February speech to the French 
        parliament, then Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault 
        stated that France ``will not accept any interference 
        whatsoever in our electoral process, no more from 
        Russia than from any other state. This is a question of 
        our democracy, our sovereignty, our national 
        independence.'' \710\ Ayrault's warning included a 
        pledge to carry out retaliatory measures against any 
        such interference.\711\ French government officials 
        reiterated this warning privately to Russian officials 
        in France, which may have prompted overt Russian 
        interference in the campaign and comments on specific 
        candidates to apparently subside.\712\ Since then, the 
        Macron Administration has stressed the importance of 
        boosting international cooperation to prevent and 
        respond to cyberattacks.\713\
    \710\ ``France Warns Russia Against Meddling in Election,'' 
Reuters, Feb. 15, 2017.
    \711\ Ibid.
    \712\ Committee staff discussion with French foreign ministry 
officials, Nov. 2017.
    \713\ Press Statement, ``Cybersecurity: Attacks Against Private and 
Public Actors,'' Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs of the French 
Republic, May 15, 2017.

   Encouraging Vigilance by Non-Government Actors and 
        Collective Discipline in Media, the Private Sector, and 
        Civil Society is a Critical Ingredient in an Effective 
        Response: Subsequent to the dump of hacked material 
        from the Macron campaign less than 48 hours before the 
        runoff vote, the French electoral commission issued an 
        instruction to news media in France not to publish the 
        contents of the leaked information or risk criminal 
        charges.\714\ For its part, the media effectively 
        complied with the government ban, but also took steps 
        on its own to exercise collective discipline and 
        increase its scrutiny of information before publication 
        to avoid spreading fake news. Mainstream news 
        organizations increased their fact-checking efforts as 
        signs of Russian disinformation emerged.\715\ Le 
        Monde's Decodex project, for example, enabled a suite 
        of fact-checking products based on a database of more 
        than 600 websites, both French and international, which 
        its fact checkers had identified as unreliable because 
        the site could not be verified as legitimate or was 
        deemed to manipulate information.\716\ Perhaps drawing 
        from lessons learned in the 2016 U.S. election, 
        Facebook stated publicly in April 2017 that it had 
        suspended 30,000 accounts for promoting propaganda or 
        election-related spam before the French poll, though 
        subsequent press reporting on private meetings between 
        company officials and congressional staff indicate the 
        number of accounts ultimately suspended could have been 
        as many as 70,000.\717\ This reporting also cited 
        evidence connecting Russian intelligence to 
        approximately two dozen fake Facebook accounts that 
        were used to conduct surveillance specifically on 
        Macron campaign staff, which the company 
        deactivated.\718\ The Macron campaign, mindful it was a 
        hacking target, also took defensive steps to furnish 
        false logins and information in response to spear-
        phishing emails; while hackers ultimately were able to 
        break into campaign materials, the effort may have 
        helped to delay the release of the information until 
        late in the campaign, at which point it gained limited 
        traction with a forewarned, and vigilant, French 
    \714\ Lizzie Dearden, ``Emmanuel Macron Hacked Emails: French Media 
Ordered by Electoral Commission Not to Publish Content of Messages,'' 
The Independent,  May 6, 2017.
    \715\ Dana Priest & Michael Birnbaum, ``Europe Has Been Working to 
Expose Russian Meddling for Years,'' The Washington Post,  June 25, 
    \716\ Jessica Davies, ``Le Monde Identifies 600 Unreliable Websites 
in Fake-News Crackdown,'' Digiday,  Jan. 25, 2017.
    \717\ Eric Auchard & Joseph Menn, ``Facebook cracks down on 30,000 
fake accounts in France,'' Reuters, Apr. 13, 2017; Joseph Menn, 
``Russia Used Facebook to Try to Spy on Macron Campaign--Sources,'' 
Reuters, July 27, 2017.
    \718\ Ibid.
    \719\ Rachel Donadio, ``Why the Macron Hacking Attack Landed With a 
Thud in France,'' The New York Times,  May 8, 2017.


    The Russian government has sought to influence democracy in 
Germany through energy ties, cultural and political influence, 
disinformation, and cyberattacks. The German government and its 
Chancellor Angela Merkel are regarded as indispensable leaders 
in sustaining a united, democratic Europe. This has 
particularly been the case since the Russian military 
aggression into Ukraine in 2014. Nevertheless, historical 
business and political ties between Russia and some camps in 
Germany, as well as relationships forged in the energy sector, 
have presented opportunities for the Kremlin to attempt to 
    A 2007 meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and 
Russian President Vladimir Putin at the latter's summer 
residence in Sochi, Russia--in which Putin let his black 
Labrador into the room to approach Merkel, who has a fear of 
dogs--has been widely hailed as a sign of Putin's cunning 
statecraft.\720\ But Merkel's assessment of the situation in an 
interview later dismissed the Russian leader's power play: ``I 
understand why he has to do this--to prove he's a man,'' she 
told a group of reporters. ``He's afraid of his own weakness. 
Russia has nothing, no successful politics or economy. All they 
have is this.'' \721\ Indeed, Merkel has proven to be a 
formidable obstacle to Putin in achieving his goals to 
undermine a democratic Europe, particularly in the leading 
diplomatic role Merkel and Germany have played in projecting a 
united--and firm--European response to the Russian invasion of 
Ukraine and the imposition of EU sanctions. Ten years after the 
infamous dog incident, Merkel held firm in a tense May 2017 
meeting on EU sanctions imposed against Russia for its 
annexation of Crimea and support for Ukrainian separatists, and 
raised concerns about human rights abuses inside Russia and the 
Kremlin's election meddling abroad.\722\
    \720\ Tim Hume, ``Vladimir Putin: I Didn't Mean to Scare Angela 
Merkel with My Dog,'' CNN, Jan. 12, 2016.
    \721\ Thomas Johnson, ``Merkel Appears to Roll Her Eyes at Putin, 
and the Internet Can't Get Enough,'' The Washington Post,  July 7, 
    \722\ Patrick Donahue & Ilya Arkhipov, ``In Tense Encounter, Merkel 
Tells Putin Sanctions Must Remain,'' Bloomberg, May 2, 2017; Andreas 
Rinke & Denis Pinchuk, ``Putin, Merkel Struggle to Move Past 
Differences in Tense Meeting,'' Reuters, May 2, 2017.
    Even before the Ukraine conflict, however, the Russian 
government has used energy politics as a key lever of influence 
in Germany. In 2005, former chancellor Gerhard Schroder became 
the chairman of the shareholders' committee of Nord Stream AG, 
a consortium led by Gazprom to bring Russian gas to Germany 
under the Baltic Sea via two pipelines.\723\ The first was 
inaugurated in 2011, but completion of the second, dubbed Nord 
Stream 2, has faced considerable obstacles from European Union 
members and littoral states who fear it will increase European 
reliance on Russian gas and undermine stability in Ukraine, 
which currently receives transit payments for the gas that runs 
through its territory to Europe.\724\ In September 2017, the 
Russian state-controlled oil company Rosneft named Schroder its 
board chairman.\725\
    \723\ Nord Stream, ``Who We Are,'' https://www.nord-stream.com/
about-us/ (visited Dec. 31, 2017); ``Former German Chancellor Gerhard 
Schroder Nominated to Russia's Rosneft Board,'' Deutsche Welle, Aug. 
12, 2017.
    \724\ ``U.S. Diplomat Says Nord Stream 2 Pipeline Probably Won't Be 
Built,'' Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Nov. 29, 2017; ``Denmark 
Passes Law to Block Nord Stream 2,'' Newsbase,  Dec. 7, 2017; Statement 
of Dr. Constanze Stelzenmuller, ``The Impact of Russian Interference on 
Germany's 2017 Elections,'' Russian Intervention in European Elections, 
 Hearing before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, June 
28, 2017. For more on Nord Stream 2, see Chapter 4.
    \725\ Rosneft, ``Corporate Governance; Board of Directors,'' 
https://www.rosneft.com/governance/board (visited Dec. 31, 2017); 
Geoffrey Smith, ``Vladimir Putin Just Gave Ex-German Chancellor Gerhard 
Schroeder A Plum Oil Job,'' Fortune,  Sept. 29, 2017.
    Meanwhile, Russia has also cultivated ties with both 
extreme ends of the political spectrum in Germany. The 
Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which ascended to third 
place in the September 2017 elections and is the first far-
right party to enter the Bundestag since World War II, has 
reportedly sought close ties with Russian state-backed 
media.\726\ It has reportedly also forged alliances between its 
youth wing and leaders of United Russia's Yunarmiya (Young 
Guard) and former Nashi youth movement, and courted ethnic 
Russian voters in Germany.\727\ The German newspaper Bild 
alleged that Russia had directed funds to the AfD ahead of the 
September elections through the sale of gold to the AfD via 
middlemen at under-market values, a scenario through which the 
party may not have realized it was being subsidized with 
Russian cash.\728\ Both the AfD and the Kremlin have fervently 
denied any such financial ties.\729\ Meanwhile, the far-left 
Die Linke party has proven sympathetic ground for the Kremlin's 
interests, with party leaders positing that the Ukraine 
conflict is the result of American actions and traveling to the 
separatist ``Donetsk People's Republic'' in eastern Ukraine to 
express solidarity and provide humanitarian relief.\730\
    \726\ Simon Shuster, ``How Russian Voters Fueled the Rise of 
Germany's Far-Right,'' TIME,  Sept. 25, 2017.
    \727\ Melanie Amann & Pavel Lokshin, ``German Populists Forge Ties 
with Russia,'' Spiegel Online,  Apr. 27, 2016.
    \728\ Andrew Rettman, ``Illicit Russian Money Poses Threat to EU 
Democracy,'' EUobserver,  Apr. 21, 2017.
    \729\ Simon Shuster, ``How Russian Voters Fueled the Rise of 
Germany's Far-Right,'' TIME,  Sept. 25, 2017.
    \730\ Alina Polyakova et al., The Kremlin's Trojan Horses,  
Atlantic Council, at 15 (Nov. 2016).
    Civil society and popular movements have also been used as 
influence tools to promote a pro-Kremlin worldview. For 
example, the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute, 
founded in 2016 in Berlin and financed by Putin ally Vladimir 
Yakunin, with reported investments from other Russian 
businessmen, sponsors research and events with the reported aim 
to make Russia's world view ``popular.'' \731\ The Patriotic 
Europeans Against the Islamization of the West movement in 
Germany has displayed Russian flags and pro-Kremlin slogans at 
its protests decrying Germany's hospitality to migrants and 
refugees, which have also been broadcast live on RT's German 
language channel, RT Deutsch.\732\ A few German media outlets 
also reported in the run-up to the September 2017 election on 
concerns that increasingly popular `'systema clubs'' 
established throughout the country to teach a martial art form 
used by Russian special security services were potentially 
being used to recruit new agents for the Russian state.\733\
    \731\ Ben Knight, ``Putin Associate Opens Russia-Friendly Think 
Tank in Berlin,'' Deutsche Welle, July 1, 2016.
    \732\ Roman Goncharenko, ``In Dresden, Russian Flags of Protest 
Against Islam and Merkel,'' Deutsche Welle, Nov. 22, 2015; Alina 
Polyakova et al., The Kremlin's Trojan Horses,  at 16.
    \733\ Andrew Rettman, ``Fight Club: Russian Spies Seek EU 
Recruits,'' EUobserver,  May 23, 2017.
    Indeed, as Merkel's Germany has led the defense of 
transatlantic values that underlie open, democratic societies, 
playing on fears of migrants has become a durable theme of 
Russian disinformation and political influence in an effort to 
undermine the German government's standing with its own 
population. A well-known example of this is the ``Lisa case'' 
of January 2016, a fabricated story initiated on a Russian 
state-run television broadcaster and circulated widely on 
social media of a 13 year-old Russian-German girl who was 
kidnapped and sexually assaulted by ``Southern-looking,'' 
presumably Muslim, migrants.\734\ Police interviewed the 
alleged victim and quickly determined the story to be false, 
but even Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov joined the fray 
in publicly highlighting the case and suggesting an official 
cover-up.\735\ The case sparked protests by thousands of 
Russian-German citizens who decried Germany's acceptance of 
migrants.\736\ Ironically, the Lisa case was essentially a 
victim of its own success, as it piqued awareness in German 
society of Russian-sponsored disinformation and helped 
contribute to a healthy skepticism of fake news as Germany 
entered a hotly contested election season.
    \734\ Damien McGuinness, ``Russia Steps into Berlin `Rape' Storm 
Claiming German Cover-Up,'' BBC,  Jan. 27, 2016; Ben Knight, ``Teenage 
Girl Admits Making Up Migrant Rape Claim That Outraged Germany,'' The 
Guardian,  Jan. 31, 2016.
    \735\ Damien McGuinness, ``Russia Steps into Berlin `Rape' Storm 
Claiming German Cover-Up,'' BBC,  Jan. 27, 2016.
    \736\ Statement of Melissa Hooper, Director of Human Rights and 
Civil Society, Human Rights First, The Scourge of Russian 
Disinformation,  Hearing before the U.S. Commission on Security and 
Cooperating in Europe, Sept. 14, 2017, at 3.
    The use of bots and trolls in the 2016 German election 
appears to have been less extensive than in the recent 
elections in France and the United States and the Brexit 
referendum in the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, social media 
analyses by U.S. and European-based researchers suggested that 
prior to the German election, pro-Kremlin and primarily 
Russian-language ``bot'' accounts on Twitter combined 
commercial and pornographic posts and retweets with pro-AfD 
content, concerns about electoral fraud, and attacks on Russian 
anti-corruption campaigner Alexey Navalny--though it was 
unclear who was managing or directing these sporadic 
posts.\737\ A purported Russian hacker told BuzzFeed News  that 
he and thirty other hackers were amplifying non-official, pro-
AfD content prior to the poll; the party itself had stated it 
would not use Twitter bots as part of its campaign.\738\ 
Meanwhile, Russian state-sponsored media outlets RT and Sputnik 
crafted and pushed out stories carefully framed to undermine 
Merkel and her party. RT ran positive articles on the AfD and 
amplified German nationalists who railed on the country's 
perceived failures in European integration and counter-
terrorism, while Sputnik put out stories that played up Russian 
and German interests allegedly being undermined by Europe and 
the United States, as well as the countries' mutual hardships 
during the Second World War.\739\
    \737\ ``#ElectionWatch: Russian Botnet Boosts German Far-Right 
Posts,'' Digital Forensic Research Lab, Sept. 21, 2017; Anne Applebaum 
et al., `Make Germany Great Again:' Kremlin, Alt-Right, and 
International Influences in the 2017 German Elections,  Institute for 
Strategic Dialogue and LSE Institute for Global Affairs, at 13.
    \738\ Henk Van Ess & Jane Lytvynenko, ``This Russian Hacker Says 
His Twitter Bots Are Spreading Messages to Help Germany's Far Right 
Party In The Election,'' BuzzFeed News,  Sept. 24, 2017.
    \739\ Donald N. Jensen, ``Moscow's New Strategy in Berlin,'' Center 
for European Policy Analysis, Oct. 4, 2017.
    Germany's domestic intelligence agency also alleged that 
Kremlin-linked hackers were behind a 2015 hack of the lower 
house of the Bundestag that exfiltrated thousands of documents, 
and were responsible for subsequent hacks of Merkel's Christian 
Democratic Union party and other political foundations and 
organizations affiliated with it.\740\ The head of German 
domestic intelligence said in comments to reporters that the 
attacks were part of a campaign directed by Russia to 
``generate information that can be used for disinformation or 
for influencing operations . . .. Whether they do it or not is 
a political decision . . . that I assume will be made in the 
Kremlin.'' \741\ German officials determined that the attacks 
had been likely carried out by APT28, the hacker group also 
known as Fancy Bear that has been linked to the Russian 
government, and which was connected to several high-profile 
cyberattacks in the United States, France, Ukraine, and 
elsewhere.\742\ Interestingly, by the September 24 election in 
Germany, a data dump of hacked information similar to those in 
the United States and France did not take place--perhaps out of 
concern for Merkel's reaction in the event that she won the 
    \740\ Andrea Shalal, ``Germany Challenges Russia Over Alleged 
Cyberattacks,'' Reuters, May 4, 2017.
    \741\ Ibid.
    \742\ FireEye iSight Intelligence, APT28: At the Center of The 
Storm, Russia Strategically Evolves Its Cyber Operations,  at 4 (Jan. 
    \743\ Michael Schwirtz, ``German Election Mystery: Why No Russian 
Meddling?'' The New York Times,  Sept. 21, 2017.
    In meetings with Committee staff in the months before the 
German election, most German interlocutors seemed sanguine that 
Russia would not interfere in a significant way, but political 
party representatives did express growing apprehension about 
their lack of preparation for a Russian attack. But time and 
the experience of other countries had afforded the German 
government, political parties, and the media the opportunity to 
build defenses against Russian meddling before election day. 
These defenses included a mix of government and non-government 
steps to boost resilience, from which the United States and 
others can draw important lessons.
Lessons Learned
   Disincentivizing the Sharing of Disinformation Must be 
        Balanced with Freedom of Expression Concerns: In late 
        2016, with the encouragement of the Interior Ministry, 
        all German political parties except for the AfD agreed 
        not to use bots or paid trolls in their campaigning, 
        while Chancellor Merkel warned in a major address of 
        the threat of fake news and disinformation tactics and 
        signaled a willingness to explore increased government 
        regulation of this space.\744\ The Interior Ministry 
        also proposed the creation of a ``Center of Defense 
        Against Misinformation,'' noting that Russian-Germans 
        and people of Turkish origins are especially 
        susceptible to disinformation and recommending ``an 
        intensification of political education work'' with 
        those groups.\745\ In June 2017, the German parliament 
        passed legislation that enabled fines of up to =50 
        million for social media companies that failed to 
        remove obviously illegal content within 24 hours, or 
        that failed to assess likely false content and remove 
        it within seven days. While the law increased 
        incentives for social media companies like YouTube, 
        Facebook, and Twitter to police the content on their 
        platforms, critics of the law called it a concerning 
        legal model that possibly infringes on free speech and 
        places too much power in the hands of companies to curb 
        content simply to avoid fines.\746\ The government also 
        relied on Germany's already relatively stringent laws 
        on defamation and hate speech that promotes violence 
        against minorities.\747\ Facebook reported that it 
        increased its efforts throughout the German 
        parliamentary election campaign period, providing 
        candidates with cybersecurity training, working 
        directly with the Federal Office for Information 
        Security (BSI) national cybersecurity office, and 
        removing tens of thousands of fake accounts.\748\ While 
        German government, business, and civil society actors 
        have deployed ``vigorous action'' against the causes 
        and effects of information manipulation and 
        dissemination, some experts have noted difficulties 
        enforcing strengthened legal regimes and the risk they 
        pose to freedom of expression, and have urged that the 
        German government couple its monitoring and oversight 
        of online propaganda with increasing media literacy 
        among the population.\749\
    \744\ Jefferson Chase, ``Experts Say Laws Not Enough as Germany 
Fights Bots and Fake News,'' Deutsche Welle, Nov. 25, 2016.
    \745\ ``Germany Plans Creation of `Center Of Defense' Against Fake 
News, Report Says,'' Deutsche Welle, Dec. 23, 2016.
    \746\ Carla Bleiker & Kate Brady, ``Bundestag Passes Law to Fine 
Social Media Companies for not Deleting Hate Speech,'' Deutsche Welle, 
June 30, 2017.
    \747\ Thorsten Severin & Emma Thomasson,``German Parliament Backs 
Plan to Fine Social Media Over Hate Speech,'' Reuters,  June 30, 2017.
    \748\ Richard Allan, Vice President for Public Policy EMEA, 
Facebook Ireland,``Update on German Elections,'' Facebook blog post, 
Sept. 27, 2017, https://de.newsroom.fb.com/news/2017/09/update-zu-den-
wahlen (visited Dec. 30, 2017).
    \749\ Lisa-Maria N. Neudert, Computational Propaganda in Germany: A 
Cautionary Tale,  University of Oxford, at 23 (June 2017).

   Prioritize Cybersecurity Rapid-Response Capacity and 
        Information Sharing German efforts to bolster cyber 
        capabilities included adopting a new cyber security 
        strategy in November 2016 that outlines a plan to 
        confront a range of emerging cyber threats, including 
        the kind of threats many analysts have attributed to 
        Russia. Under this new cyber strategy, overseen by the 
        BSI, rapid reaction cyber teams have been created 
        across the government to respond quickly to cyber 
        threats against government institutions and critical 
        infrastructure.\750\ The German government has also 
        created a new ``Cyber Command'' within its armed 
        forces, staffed by about 13,500 military and other 
        personnel.\751\ A 2015 information technology security 
        law established minimum standards for companies to 
        protect critical cyber infrastructure and requires them 
        to inform authorities about any critical incidents, in 
        response to which BSI analyzes the threat and informs 
        other companies who may be at risk of a similar 
        attack.\752\ BSI also advises parliamentary groups on 
        how to protect themselves, and German political 
        campaigns have agreed not to exploit any information 
        that was the result of cyber hacking.\753\
    \750\ German Federal Ministry of the Interior, Cyber Security 
Strategy for Germany,  Nov. 2016.
    \751\ ``German Army Launches New Cyber Command,'' Deutsche Welle, 
Apr. 1, 2017.
    \752\ Janosch Delcker,``Germany's Cybersecurity Chief on Hacking, 
Russia and Problems Hiring Experts,'' Politico EU,  Mar. 20, 2017; Act 
to Enhance the Security of Information Technology Systems (IT Security 
Act) (Gesetz zur Erhohung der Sicherheit informationstechnischer 
Systeme), German Federal Law Gazette 2015, Part I, No. 31, 1324, July 
25, 2015.
    \753\ Delcker, ``Germany's Cybersecurity Chief on Hacking, Russia 
and Problems Hiring Experts,'' Politico EU; Michael Schwirtz, ``German 
Election Mystery: Why No Russian Meddling?'' The New York Times,  Sept. 
21, 2017.

   Direct Diplomatic Warnings Can Deter Kremlin Aggression: In 
        their tense May 2017 meeting, Chancellor Merkel 
        publicly warned that there would be ``decisive 
        measures'' taken against any attempts to interfere in 
        the German election through cyberattacks or 
        disinformation. She pointed to the hybrid warfare 
        techniques as a hallmark of Russian military doctrine, 
        but also underscored that she was ``not anxious'' about 
        possible Russian interference.\754\
    \754\ Roland Oliphant, `` `There's No Proof': Putin Denies Hacking 
Elections as Angela Merkel Visits for Summit on `Problematic' 
Differences,'' The Telegraph,  May 2, 2017.


    In Spain, the authorities have grappled with the pernicious 
activities of Russian-based criminal organizations for decades. 
Their efforts have revealed direct ties between the Russian 
mafia and senior members of Putin's regime, as well as links 
between Putin himself and entities that have allegedly engaged 
in money laundering in Europe. Russia-based criminal 
organizations have reportedly been active in Catalonia for 
years, building their influence in politics and business and 
working to exploit rivalries between regional and national law 
enforcement entities. There is also an increasing body of 
evidence that Kremlin-run news outlets like RT and Sputnik, 
reinforced by bots and fake social media accounts, carried out 
a disinformation campaign during Catalonia's independence 
referendum in October 2016.
    According to an extensive report by Sebastian Rotella 
published in ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative journalism 
organization, the Russian mafia landed in Spain in the late 
1990s, when a high-ranking figure from St. Petersburg's 
notorious Tambov gang, Gennady Petrov, made his home on the 
island of Mallorca, from where he ran a worldwide network of 
the gang's businesses, including cobalt and cigarette smuggling 
through Finland, money laundering operations in Germany, 
Belgium, Cyprus, and the Czech Republic, and an embezzlement 
scheme in Germany that stole more than $100 million and 
resulted in thousands of shipyard workers losing their 
    \755\ Sebastian Rotella, ``A Gangster Place in the Sun: How Spain's 
Fight Against the Mob revealed Russian Power Networks,'' ProPublica, 
Nov. 10, 2017.
    Spanish law enforcement grew curious about the source of 
Petrov's wealth--he had reportedly amassed $50 million in Spain 
alone--and began to monitor his phone calls.\756\ They found 
that Petrov had active ties to senior officials throughout the 
Russian government.\757\ He reportedly plotted with a senior 
justice ministry official in Moscow, who promised to intimidate 
a shipbuilder who was behind schedule in building a yacht for 
Petrov. A few days later, the shipbuilder was back on 
schedule.\758\ And in a conversation with his son, Petrov 
boasted of meeting with Russia's then defense minister, Anatoly 
Serdiukov, with whom he reportedly made deals involving real 
estate, airplanes, and energy investments (Serdiukov was sacked 
by Putin in 2012 during an anti-corruption campaign, and 
granted amnesty in 2014).\759\
    \756\ Ibid.
    \757\ Ibid.
    \758\ Ibid.
    \759\ Ibid.; Jason Bush & Baczynska, ``Russia Grants Amnesty to 
Former Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov--Report,'' Reuters, Mar. 6, 
    Spanish prosecutors met with Alexander Litvinenko--the 
former Russian spy who some suspect was assassinated on orders 
from Putin--in June 2006 and persuaded him to testify against 
Russian mobsters in Spain about information he had from his 
time in Russia's intelligence services.\760\ But Litvinenko's 
killers got to him before he could testify at trial. Jose 
Grinda Gonzalez, Spain's leading law enforcement expert on 
Russian organized crime, told reporters, ``We had accepted the 
idea that the world of the Russian mafia was like that. But 
it's true that the case made other people think this gentleman 
had told the truth, because now he was dead.'' \761\
    \760\ An inquiry by the UK's House of Commons concluded that order 
to kill Litvinenko was likely approved by Putin. United Kingdom House 
of Commons, The Litvinenko Inquiry: Report into the Death of Alexander 
Litvinenko,  at 244 (Mar. 2015); see Appendix B; Sebastian Rotella, ``A 
Gangster Place in the Sun: How Spain's Fight Against the Mob revealed 
Russian Power Networks,'' ProPublica,  Nov. 10, 2017.
    \761\ Sebastian Rotella, ``A Gangster Place in the Sun: How Spain's 
Fight Against the Mob revealed Russian Power Networks,'' ProPublica,  
Nov. 10, 2017.
    Through their investigations of Petrov's gang, Spanish law 
enforcement authorities found enough evidence linking the 
criminal organization to Russian government officials that they 
named over a dozen of them in the indictments, including the 
former defense minister.\762\ Petrov was arrested in 2008 in a 
massive crackdown on Russian organized crime that eventually 
resulted in pretrial indictments against 27 suspects on charges 
of criminal association and money laundering.\763\ Vladislav 
Reznik, a senior Duma member and leader of Putin's United 
Russia party, is among the accused, and the indictment alleges 
that he operated at ``the highest levels of power in Russia on 
behalf of Mr. Petrov and his organization.'' \764\ Petrov's 
trial is set to begin in February 2018, though he is unlikely 
to attend: he disappeared to Russia on bond in 2012 and the 
Russian government has not taken any action to return him to 
Spain.\765\ But the Petrov case has led to more progress in 
Spain's fight against Russian organized crime: in 2009, while 
pursuing a lead from the case, Spanish police entered the 
office of a lawyer suspected of money laundering, only to see 
him grab a document from his desk, crumple it up, and begin to 
eat it.\766\ The document, after being forcibly spat out, led 
investigators to a new group of alleged money launderers in 
Barcelona who have suspected ties to Kremlin-linked organized 
    \762\ While mentioned in court documents, the officials were not 
actually charged. Ibid.
    \763\ Ibid.
    \764\ Ibid.
    \765\ Ibid.
    \766\ Ibid.
    \767\ Ibid.
    The suspected money laundering ring in Barcelona is 
indicative of long-running efforts by Russian organized crime 
groups to set up shop in Catalonia. Russian mobsters have 
reportedly been active in Catalonia for years, building 
influence among politicians and businesspeople and seeking to 
exploit the rivalry between regional and national law-
enforcement agencies.\768\ According to ProPublica, 
    \768\ Sebastian Rotella, ``A Gangster Place in the Sun: How Spain's 
Fight Against the Mob revealed Russian Power Networks,'' ProPublica,  
Nov. 10, 2017.

        Suspected underworld figures also surfaced as 
        representatives of a major Russian oil company, Lukoil, 
        that was proposing to join with a Spanish firm to open 
        150 gasoline stations in [Barcelona]. The deal 
        ultimately fell through, but information from Spanish 
        and Russian law enforcement cited in court documents 
        suggested that organized crime figures with ties to 
        both Lukoil and the Russian spy agencies planned to use 
        the deal to launder illicit funds.\769\
    \769\ Ibid.

    And in 2013, the Catalan regional government appointed 
Xavier Crespo, a former mayor belonging to the Convergence and 
Union (CiU) party, to the post of security secretary, which 
controls the Catalan police.\770\ However, the appointment was 
rescinded when intelligence services based in Madrid presented 
evidence that Crespo was involved in money laundering, and in 
2014 he was indicted for accepting bribes from Petrov.\771\ The 
CiU also allegedly received funds laundered by Russian crime 
syndicates through Catalonian banks and shell companies.\772\
    \770\ Martin Arostegui, ``Officials: Russia Seeking to Exploit 
Catalonia Secessionist Movement,'' VOA News,  Nov. 24, 2017.
    \771\ Ibid.
    \772\ Ibid.
    A faction of the CiU joined with two leftist parties to 
form the coalition that held the referendum on October 1, 2017 
for Catalonia's independence from Spain. The referendum was 
driven by decades-long domestic political, cultural, and 
economic issues, but it also presented Moscow with an 
opportunity to promote an outcome that would weaken a major EU 
state. And there is now an increasingly large body of evidence 
showing that the Kremlin, at least through its state-run media 
outlets, directed a significant disinformation campaign 
targeting the referendum. The U.S. State Department reported 

        Russian state news outlets, such as Sputnik, published 
        a number of articles in the run up to the poll that 
        highlighted alleged corruption within the Spanish 
        government and driving an overarching anti-EU narrative 
        in support of the secessionist movement. These Russian 
        news agencies, as well as Russian users on Twitter, 
        also repeatedly promoted the views of Julian Assange, 
        the founder of WikiLeaks, who has taken to social media 
        to call for Spanish authorities to respect the upcoming 
        vote in Catalonia. Spanish newspapers have also 
        reported that Russian bots attempted to flood social 
        media with controversial posts in support of Catalonian 
        independence prior to the referendum.\773\
    \773\ U.S. Department of State, ``Report to Congress on Efforts by 
the Russian Federation to Undermine Elections in Europe and Eurasia,'' 
Pursuant to the Countering America's Adversaries through Sanctions Act 
of 2017 (P.L. 115-44), Nov. 7, 2017.

    One analysis looked at more than five million social media 
messages on Catalonia posted between September 29 and October 
5, and found that 30 percent of the messages came from 
anonymous accounts that exclusively post content from RT and 
Sputnik, while 25 percent came from bots and 10 percent from 
the official accounts of the two propaganda platforms.\774\ 
Another analysis found that, just before the referendum took 
place, pro-Kremlin Twitter accounts increased their mentions of 
the Catalan crisis by 2,000 percent.\775\
    \774\ Itxu Diaz, ``Venezuela and Russia Teamed Up to Push Pro-
Catalan Fake News,'' The Daily Beast,  Nov. 28, 2017.
    \775\ David Alandete, ``Pro-Russian Networks See 2,000% Increase in 
Activity in Favor of Catalan Referendum,'' El Pais,  Oct. 1, 2017.
    The Kremlin's interests in Catalonia's referendum were 
likely varied. First, Moscow has recently favored independence 
and secessionist movements that occur beyond Russia's borders 
and weaken the EU. For example, before Brexit, Kremlin-linked 
disinformation campaigns were pro-Scottish independence. But 
after the UK decided not to be in the EU, and many voters in 
Scotland indicated a desire to stay in the EU, the Kremlin 
changed its stance to anti-Scottish independence.\776\ And as 
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told reporters, after 
noting that over half of the fake profiles involved in 
spreading fake news came from Russia, ``What is clear is that 
there are people who may be interested in things not going well 
in Europe.'' \777\ But there were also other, darker motives 
likely at work. According to Spanish intelligence analysts, 
Russian companies would look to fill the vacuum created by the 
exit of Catalan and Spanish companies that left because of 
instability.\778\ In addition, the Kremlin could `'see an 
independent Catalonia as a possible base from which to 
penetrate other parts of Europe, where their business 
activities are restricted by sanctions enforced by the United 
States and the European Union.'' \779\
    \776\ Chris Green, ``Russia `Set to U-turn on Support for Scottish 
Independence,'' The Scotsman, May 11, 2017.
    \777\ William Booth & Michael Birnbaum, ``British and Spanish 
Leaders Say Russian Trolls Meddled in Their Elections,'' The Washington 
Post,  Nov. 14, 2017.
    \778\ Martin Arostegui, ``Officials: Russia Seeking to Exploit 
Catalonia Secessionist Movement,'' VOA News,  Nov. 24, 2017.
    \779\ Ibid.
    While the referendum did not result in Catalonia's 
independence from Spain, it showed that Spain is a growing 
target of the Kremlin's malign influence operations. Spain can 
strengthen its resiliency by studying the experiences of and 
cooperating with other similarly-targeted European countries, 
and the U.S. government should take steps to help shore-up 
ongoing efforts.
Lessons Learned
   Aggressive Investigations of Money Laundering Can Reduce 
        the Kremlin's Influence: Spain's investigations and 
        prosecutions are targeting and removing bad actors who 
        have spread corruption throughout Europe and likely 
        here in the United States. The U.S. government has 
        assisted with these investigations, and should continue 
        to do so to the greatest extent possible. Furthermore, 
        the U.S. government should establish a task force 
        dedicated to investigating money laundering by Russian 
        entities, and should also designate Russia as a 
        jurisdiction of primary money laundering concern, which 
        would subject Russian financial institutions to 
        additional reporting requirements. Spanish authorities 
        should also be commended and used as an example for the 
        complicated and courageous work that its law 
        enforcement officials are carrying out against Russia-
        based organized criminal organizations.

   The Kremlin Will Pursue Targets of Opportunity: As shown in 
        other elections and referendums among Western 
        democracies, the Kremlin's disinformation operations 
        will not pass up on opportunities to sow chaos and 
        confusion in an attempt to undermine the democratic 
        process and weaken European institutions. The United 
        States and its partners and allies, as well as the 
        private sector and civil society, must proactively 
        identify potential next targets and launch efforts to 
        build resiliency against Kremlin influence operations 
        well in advance of elections and referendums.


    In recent years, Italy has seen a resurgence of anti-
establishment, populist parties that have garnered appeal among 
the population and achieved some electoral success. Some of 
these parties are strong advocates of pro-Kremlin foreign 
policies, and have extensively used fake news and conspiracy 
theories in their media campaigns, often drawn from Russian 
state-owned media outlets. With national elections coming up in 
2018, Italy could be a target for electoral interference by the 
Kremlin, which will likely seek to promote parties that are 
against renewing EU sanctions for Russia's aggression in 
    The Five Star Movement (M5S), which was formed in 2009 and 
surged to popularity in recent years with its anti-
establishment message, seeks to end sanctions on Russia and 
normalize relations with the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar 
al-Assad, and recognizes the annexation of Crimea, opposes 
Italian participation in NATO exercises, and has called for a 
referendum on Italy's inclusion in the Eurozone.\780\ The 
chairman of M5S's foreign affairs committee, Manlio Di Stefano, 
has stated that NATO is secretly preparing a ``final assault'' 
on Russia and that ``there's a limit'' to the alliance that 
Italy and the United States forged in the aftermath of World 
War II.\781\
    \780\ Alberto Nardelli & Craig Silverman, ``Italy's Most Popular 
Political Party Is Leading Europe in Fake News and Kremlin 
Propaganda,'' BuzzFeed News, Nov. 29, 2016; Jason Horowitz, ``With 
Italy No Longer in U.S. Focus, Russia Swoops to Fill the Void,'' The 
New York Times,  May 29, 2017.
    \781\ Jason Horowitz, ``With Italy No Longer in U.S. Focus, Russia 
Swoops to Fill the Void,'' The New York Times,  May 29, 2017.
    During a failed 2016 constitutional referendum, M5S used a 
`'sprawling network of websites and social media accounts that 
[were] spreading fake news, conspiracy theories, and pro-
Kremlin stories to millions of people,'' according to an 
analysis by BuzzFeed News. A video created by RT and promoted 
by M5S's network claimed to show thousands of people protesting 
against the referendum, when in fact they were at a rally that 
was supporting the referendum (RT later claimed that this was 
due to a production error). And one M5S parliament member 
promoted a conspiracy theory on Facebook that asserted Italy's 
government had colluded with the media to report that an 
earthquake which hit the country was not as powerful as it 
actually was, thereby allowing the government to reduce 
payments for damage.\782\ A former M5S communications advisor 
has said that spreading conspiracy theories is not just a 
tactic of the party, but ``akin to a policy.'' \783\
    \782\ Alberto Nardelli & Craig Silverman, ``Italy's Most Popular 
Political Party Is Leading Europe in Fake News and Kremlin 
Propaganda,'' BuzzFeed News, Nov. 29, 2016.
    \783\ Jason Horowitz, ``In Italian Schools, Reading, Writing, and 
Recognizing Fake News,'' The New York Times,  Oct. 18, 2017.
    The Kremlin has also worked to establish formal political 
ties and influence with extremist Italian political parties. 
For example, the United Russia party and the Northern League, a 
radical right-wing populist party, signed a cooperation 
agreement in 2017, where they agreed to develop ties in the 
Council of Europe and the OSCE, as well as promote business 
links between their countries.\784\ Some observers also suspect 
that the Northern League may have received funds from the 
Kremlin's security services.\785\
    \784\ Max Seddon & James Politi, ``Putin's Party Signs Deal with 
Italy's Far-Right Lega Nord,'' Financial Times,  Mar. 6, 2017.
    \785\ Peter Foster & Matthew Holehouse, ``Russia Accused of 
Clandestine Funding of European Parties as US Conducts Major Review of 
Vladimir Putin's Strategy,'' The Telegraph,  Jan. 16, 2016.
    While there is no known evidence of M5S receiving funding 
from Kremlin-linked sources, one Italian national security 
official told Business Insider that ``I think some of our 
political parties are vulnerable to infiltration. They don't 
have the experience, the anti-bodies, to fend off such 
formidable intelligence services.'' \786\ Estonia's ambassador 
to Italy, Celia Kuningas-Saagpakk, who in a previous role 
monitored the Kremlin's malign influence operations in Ukraine 
and elsewhere, noted to the The New York Times,  that the 
Russian government ``has invested a lot in influencing public 
opinion in [Italy].'' \787\
    \786\ Jason Horowitz, ``With Italy No Longer in U.S. Focus, Russia 
Swoops to Fill the Void,'' The New York Times,  May 29, 2017; Sebastian 
Rotella, ``Russia is Engaged in a Full-Scale Shadow War in Europe,'' 
Business Insider, Apr. 20, 2017.
    \787\ Jason Horowitz, ``With Italy No Longer in U.S. Focus, Russia 
Swoops to Fill the Void,'' The New York Times,  May 29, 2017.
    State-owned Russian energy firms also exert influence 
through Italian energy firms such as ENI, which is currently a 
partner of Gazprom in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline (see Chapter 
4).\788\ At the request of Gazprom, though unbeknownst to its 
attendees, an ENI subsidiary reportedly sponsored a foreign 
policy conference at a think tank in Italy, where ``it was 
stressed that Russia could be an important ally for the EU.'' 
\789\ It is worth noting that Russia is Italy's biggest 
supplier of natural gas, and Italian oil major ENI's policy is 
to give priority to its relationship with Gazprom over Algerian 
suppliers. ENI has also signed a strategic partnership 
agreement with Gazprom, and pledged to cooperate with Gazprom 
both on the now-cancelled South Stream pipeline and the under-
consideration Nord Stream 2 pipeline.\790\
    \788\ Warsaw Institute, ``Italians with Gazprom Again,'' Russia 
Monitor, Sept. 1, 2017.
    \789\ Vladislava Vojtiskova et al., The Bear in Sheep's Clothing: 
Russia's Government-Funded Organisations in the EU,  Wilfried Martens 
Centre for European Studies, at 25 (July 2016).
    \790\ Angelantonio Rosato, ``A Marriage of Convenience? The Future 
of Italy-Russia Relations,'' European Council on Foreign Relations,  
July 15, 2016.
    Since the 2016 referendum, Italy's government has begun to 
take actions to better inoculate its population against fake 
news and disinformation campaigns. The president of Italy's 
Chamber of Deputies, Laura Boldrini, has spearheaded a project 
with Italy's Ministry of Education to train students at 8,000 
high schools across the country on how to verify news stories 
and recognize fake news and conspiracy theories that they see 
on social media platforms. Facebook is reportedly contributing 
to the initiative by promoting it with targeted ads aimed at 
high-school-age users in Italy.\791\ The program should help to 
mitigate fake news stories that originate both at home and from 
abroad, and should be studied by other countries as they 
develop their own school curriculums to counter fake news.
    \791\ Jason Horowitz, ``In Italian Schools, Reading, Writing, and 
Recognizing Fake News,'' The New York Times,  Oct. 18, 2017.
    According to the now-confirmed U.S. Ambassador to Italy, 
Lewis Eisenberg, Italy is aware of the Kremlin's tactics in 
Italy and the country `'shares our concerns about Russian 
aggression in Europe, including Russian disinformation 
campaigns and malign influence activities.'' During his Senate 
confirmation hearing, Eisenberg told the U.S. Senate Foreign 
Relations Committee that he will ``work to strengthen our 
coordination with Italian partners, across relevant agencies, 
to detect and counter these activities that seek to undermine 
democratic institutions and principles'' and to ``make U.S.-
Italian cooperation on this issue a priority, particularly in 
advance of Italian national elections that are likely to take 
place in 2018.'' \792\
    \792\ Responses to Additional Questions for the Record, Lewis M. 
Eisenberg, Nominee for Ambassador to Italy & San Marino, Nomination of 
Lewis M. Eisenberg to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary 
of the United States of America to the Italian Republic,  Hearing 
before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, July 20, 2017.
    The U.S. government must follow through on these 
commitments and help Italy secure its democratic process 
against foreign interference. Italy is an essential NATO ally 
and a key member of the EU, which will vote in 2018 on whether 
to uphold sanctions related to the Russian government's 
activities in Ukraine.\793\ Italy has at times been skeptical 
of imposing and strengthening EU sanctions on Russia, and in 
2015 delayed a sanctions renewal decision, arguing that more 
discussion was needed.\794\ In the Veneto region of Italy, a 
local assembly controlled by the Northern League adopted a 
resolution in 2016 to call for Italy to end the sanctions on 
Russia, arguing that counter-sanctions are damaging the 
Venetian economy (the region also voted in late 2017 in favor 
of greater autonomy from Rome).\795\
    \793\ Connor Murphy, ``EU Extends Russia Sanctions through January 
2018,'' Politico, June 28, 2017.
    \794\ James Kanter, ``Italy Delays E.U.'s Renewal of Sanctions 
Against Russia,'' The New York Times,  Dec. 14, 2015.
    \795\ Angelantonio Rosato, ``A Marriage of Convenience? The Future 
of Italy-Russia Relations,'' European Council on Foreign Relations, 
July 15, 2016. ``Northern Italy Regions Overwhelmingly Vote for Greater 
Autonomy,'' The Guardian,  Oct. 22, 2017. Italy's exports to Russia did 
fall significantly after the sanctions were implemented, dropping 
around 40 percent in the first half of 2015. European Parliament, 
Directorate-General for External Policies, Policy Department, Russia's 
and the EU's Sanctions: Economic and Trade Effects, Compliance, and the 
Way Forward,  at 9 (Oct. 2017).
Lessons Learned
   Italy May be a Target of Opportunity for the Kremlin: Given 
        the opportunity to promote an outcome that could weaken 
        the EU's united stance on sanctions, the Russian 
        government could seek to interfere in Italy's elections 
        in early 2018. Along with other important elections 
        around Europe, the United States and our partners and 
        allies must maintain the highest levels of cooperation 
        and vigilance to ensure that our electoral processes 
        remain free from undue foreign influence.

   Disinformation Comes From Domestic Sources Too: The Kremlin 
        is not the only source of disinformation and conspiracy 
        theories that seek to undermine European institutions 
        like the EU and NATO. Domestic political parties, 
        especially populist ones, can also make effective use 
        of the same tactics that the Kremlin employs. As Italy 
        also shows, educating the population on media literacy 
        and how to discern fake news can be one of the most 
        important steps toward strengthening the resilience of 
        the democratic process.


               Chapter 7: Multilateral & U.S. Efforts to 
                Counter the Kremlin's Asymmetric Arsenal


    In addition to the measures that individual states have 
taken to build resiliency against malign influence operations 
within their own borders (see Chapters 5 and 6), many 
countries, especially those that belong to the EU and NATO, 
have also launched or joined multilateral efforts. These 
efforts include building collective defenses against 
disinformation and cyberattacks, improving cross-border 
cooperation on energy diversification, applying sanctions on 
malicious actors, and more. Although the United States 
participates in some of these multilateral efforts and has 
taken a few steps on its own to address Russian government 
hybrid warfare, its response lags far behind what is necessary 
to defend against and deter the threat.

                      COLLECTIVE DEFENSES AGAINST 

    Over the past several years, European governments and 
institutions have recognized that Russia's disinformation 
operations are a challenge that requires increased attention 
and resources. In response, they have launched several 
multilateral and regional initiatives to improve Europe's 
resilience, with varying levels of success. One of the first 
such organizations was the NATO Strategic Communications Center 
of Excellence, established by seven NATO member states in July 
of 2014, and headquartered in Riga, Latvia. The Center provides 
analysis, advice, and support to the NATO alliance, including 
research into identifying the early signs of hybrid warfare and 
the study of Russia's disinformation operations in 
Ukraine.\796\ The EU's External Action Service, which works 
under the EU's foreign affairs chief, launched a similar 
operation in 2015, known as the EU East StratCom Task Force. 
The Task Force uses a wide volunteer base from around the EU 
and elsewhere to collect examples of pro-Kremlin disinformation 
and analyze and publicize them in a searchable database.\797\ 
While the Task Force has only about a dozen full-time 
employees, its volunteer network has over 400 experts from more 
than 30 countries. It publishes news and analysis on the 
website EU vs. Disinfo, and is responsible for communicating EU 
policies toward the Eastern Partnership countries of Armenia, 
Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.\798\ To 
promote a positive narrative of the EU, the Task Force 
constructs simple messages meant to resonate in each country 
about the benefits of cooperation with the EU. The Task Force 
has a very broad mandate, but relatively little funding.\799\
    \796\ NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, ``About 
Us,'' https://www.stratcomcoe.org/about-us (visited Dec. 14, 2017).
    \797\ EU vs. Disinfo, ``Disinformation Cases,'' https://
euvsdisinfo.eu/disinformation-cases (visited Dec. 14, 2017).
    \798\ European Union External Action Service, ``Questions and 
Answers about the East StratCom Task Force,'' https://eeas.europa.eu/
the-east-stratcom-task-force--en (visited Dec. 14, 2017).
    \799\ The head of the EU's External Action Service, Federica 
Mogherini, has come under fire from scores of analysts and academics 
for keeping the team ``absurdly understaffed'' and underfunded. See 
European Values, Open Letter from European Security Experts to Federica 
Mogherini, Mar. 20, 2017, http://www.europeanvalues.net/mogherini/. One 
EU official told Politico  that Mogherini ``is considered to be soft on 
Russia compared to others in the Commission, or what some Eastern 
countries would like. Officials who work on these issues get no support 
from her.'' Ryan Heath, ``Federica Mogherini `Soft' on Disinformation, 
Critics Say,'' Politico,  Mar. 22, 2017.
    To combine the efforts of both EU and NATO countries and 
broaden the scope beyond disinformation, Finland launched the 
European Center of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats in 
Helsinki in July 2017. Currently comprised of 12 EU and NATO 
countries, including the United States, it uses research and 
training to improve participants' readiness to respond to 
cyberattacks, disinformation, and propaganda.\800\ Finland 
started the Center after it experienced Russian attempts to use 
social media to interfere in it 2015 elections.\801\ After the 
election, the Finnish government ordered all of its ministries 
to imagine worst-case scenarios of foreign interference, which 
they compiled into a report and shared with EU and NATO 
partners.\802\ The report led to the creation of the Center, 
which has three work strands, also known as ``communities of 
interest'': (1) hybrid influencing, led by the UK; (2) 
terrorism and radicalism; and (3) vulnerabilities and 
resilience, led by Finland.\803\ The Center's officials also 
hope to work with Google, Facebook, and other social media 
companies to track online content and identify threats.\804\ 
NATO's Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence, based in 
Tallinn, Estonia, also focuses on helping member states secure 
their cyber infrastructure. The Center draws on experts with 
military, government, and private industry experience from 20 
nations to provide training and expertise to NATO nations and 
    \800\ European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, 
``About Us,'' https://www.hybridcoe.fi/about-us (visited Dec. 15, 
    \801\ See Chapter 6, Finland.
    \802\ Committee Staff Discussion with Finnish Government Officials.
    \803\ European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, 
``About Us,'' https://www.hybridcoe.fi/about-us (visited Dec. 15, 
2017). As of publication, there was no designated country lead for the 
work strand on terrorism and radicalism.
    \804\ Committee Staff Discussion with Finnish Government Officials.
    \805\ NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, ``About 
Cyber Defence Centre,'' https://www.ccdcoe.org/about-us.html (visited 
Dec. 15, 2017).
    Although these initiatives were conceived and launched on 
an ad hoc basis, collectively they form a network of 
institutions that address overlapping threats and 
vulnerabilities facing Europe and its allies, including the 
United States.
    A number of NGOs and think tanks have also launched their 
own regionally focused programs to counter disinformation. One 
of the first such operations was the Kremlin Watch Monitor, 
launched by the European Values Think Tank in 2015 and 
headquartered in Prague. With the support of private and public 
donors, including several European governments, this initiative 
focuses on fact checking and analysis of Russian government-
backed disinformation. It also provides regular monitoring 
reports and policy recommendations, publishes case studies, 
conducts trainings, and convenes practitioners and policymakers 
in both open and closed forums.\806\ A similar effort, the 
Information Warfare Initiative, is run by the Center for 
European Policy Analysis (CEPA), an American think tank with 
offices in Europe. The program monitors the content and 
techniques of Russian disinformation in Belarus, Estonia, 
Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania. In addition to 
monitoring, the initiative works to help policymakers develop 
strategies to counter disinformation.\807\
    \806\ European Values, ``Kremlin Watch, What We Do,'' http://
www.europeanvalues.net/kremlinwatch/what-we/ (visited Dec. 31, 2017).
    \807\ Center for European Policy Analysis, ``Information Warfare 
Initiative,'' http://infowar.cepa.org/About (visited Dec. 15, 2017).
    European countries have also begun to develop multilateral 
efforts to produce and support accurate, independent Russian-
language media that can serve as an alternative to Kremlin 
propaganda for Russian-speaking audiences. In response to a 
2015 report by the European Endowment for Democracy, European 
governments are working to develop a Russian-language regional 
news hub and a multimedia distribution platform, as well as 
other initiatives.\808\ For example, the Netherlands and Poland 
are supporting the development of an independent Russian-
language regional news agency.\809\ In addition, the British 
Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is developing a blueprint for a 
``content factory'' to help Central and Eastern European 
countries create Russian-language entertainment programs.\810\
    \808\ European Endowment for Democracy, ``Bringing Plurality & 
Balance to Russian Language Media--Final Recommendations,'' https://
www.democracyendowment.eu/news/bringing-plurality-1/ (visited Dec. 15, 
    \809\ Andrew Rettman, ``Dutch-Polish `Content Factory' to Counter 
Russian Propaganda,'' EUobserver,  July 21, 2015.
    \810\ Government Accountability Office, U.S. Government Takes a 
Country-Specific Approach to Addressing Disinformation Overseas,  at 62 
(May 2017).
    European governments' joint efforts to promote 
investigative journalism have already proven effective. One 
positive example is the Russian Language News Exchange Program, 
launched in 2016 with support from the government of the 
Netherlands and other European governments and institutions. 
The program supports and trains journalists in the EU Eastern 
Partnership countries on Russia's periphery. In 2016, the 
program's participants produced and exchanged more than 500 
stories, and each story produced by the exchange garnered at 
least one million views across multiple platforms. Analysts 
attribute the program's strong success to its focus on unique 
local reporting rather than covering the international stories 
that dominate Russian disinformation.\811\ The program, 
currently funded through 2019, should be continued and expanded 
in future years.
    \811\ Nina Jankowicz, Assessing the Western Response to Russian 
Disinformation in Europe: How Can We Do Better?,  at 11 (2016-2017).
    Finally, efforts to improve media literacy on Russia's 
periphery have also shown a large return on investment. For 
example, the Learn to Discern Program, funded by the Canadian 
government, operated in Ukraine from July 2015 to March 2016. 
The program trained 15,000 Ukrainians in `'safe, informed media 
consumption techniques,'' including avoiding emotional 
manipulation, verifying sources, identifying hate speech, 
verifying expert credentials, detecting censorship, and 
debunking news, photos, and videos. In a survey, 89 percent of 
participants reported using their new skills and 91 percent 
reported sharing their new skills with an average of six people 
each, reaching 90,000 Ukrainians in total. Furthermore, 54 
percent of the 2.3 million Ukrainians who viewed the program's 
information campaign in its first two weeks reported a need for 
greater skills in discerning disinformation.\812\
    \812\ IREX, ``Learn to Discern,'' https://www.irex.org/project/
learn-discern (visited Dec. 15, 2017).


    While Europe has been slow to recognize and respond to the 
Kremlin's weaponization of energy, some countries have begun 
taking steps to mitigate their dependence on Russian energy 
supplies and therefore reduce the Kremlin's influence. The EU 
has traditionally had little, if any, influence over the energy 
policies of its member states. Since energy policy in European 
countries is set by national governments, with each EU member 
state making its own decisions regarding energy mix, suppliers, 
and contracts, the Kremlin has been able to pursue and 
implement its ``divide and conquer'' strategy by dealing with 
states on a bilateral basis. Over the past decade, however, EU 
member states, concerned about reliance on Russian energy and 
facing pressure to combat climate change, have begun to 
gradually increase cooperation and work toward developing a 
unified EU energy policy. In March 2015, the EU's member state 
governments endorsed a European Commission proposal for a 
``European Energy Union.'' Among other things, the proposal 
focuses on energy security and solidarity, and an integrated 
European energy market.\813\
    \813\ See European Commission, Energy Strategy and Energy Union, 
(visited Dec. 31, 2017); Michael Ratner et al., Europe's Energy 
Security: Options and Challenges to Natural Gas Supply Diversification, 
 Congressional Research Service, at 7 (Nov. 2015).
    Several European countries have also come out in strong 
opposition to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which could make 
Europe more dependent on Russian energy supplies and would 
significantly diminish Ukrainian government revenues collected 
from pipeline transit fees in its territory. In the summer of 
2016, the leaders of Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, 
Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Romania wrote 
to the European Commission president about their concerns that 
the Nord Stream 2 pipeline (NS2) could create ``destabilizing 
geopolitical consequences'' and ``pose certain risks for energy 
security,'' especially by increasing Central and Eastern 
European countries' reliance on Russian gas supplies.\814\ And 
in late November 2017, the Danish government passed a law that 
would allow it to block NS2 for security or foreign policy 
reasons (the pipeline requires approval from Denmark, Sweden, 
and Finland, as it would traverse their territories).\815\
    \814\  Andrew Rettman, ``Eastern EU Leaders to Warn Juncker on Nord 
Stream II,'' EUobserver,  Mar. 17, 2016.
    \815\ Erik Matzen & Stine Jacobsen, ``Denmark Passes Law That Could 
Ban Russian Pipeline from Going Through its Waters,'' Reuters,  Nov. 
30, 2017; Henry Roy et al., ``Gazprom to Receive Funding for Nord 
Stream 2 Pipeline,'' Financial Times,  Apr. 24, 2017.
    The EU has also supported several projects to improve 
energy integration and reduce reliance on Russian energy 
supplies. These infrastructure projects, especially cross-
border ones, are known as ``Projects of Common Interest,'' and 
are supported by an EU fund that aims to boost energy, 
transport, and digital infrastructure.\816\ One project, the 
development of a liquid natural gas (LNG) terminal in Croatia, 
would provide new opportunities for energy supply 
diversification throughout the Balkans.\817\ Similar LNG 
terminals in Lithuania and Poland have had transformational 
effects in reducing dependence on Russian pipelines for natural 
gas supplies.\818\ LNG terminals allow for the development of 
spot markets for natural gas, ensuring that market forces keep 
prices in check, and reduce the Kremlin's bargaining power by 
increasing supplier options. After it built an LNG import 
terminal, Lithuania was able to leverage a fair market price 
for its natural gas imports from Russia, ending years of paying 
the highest rates for gas in Europe. Lithuania's president 
summarized the benefits of new sources of LNG upon the first 
delivery of U.S. LNG to her country in 2017: ``U.S. gas imports 
to Lithuania and other European countries is a game changer in 
the European gas market. This is an opportunity for Europe to 
end its addiction to Russian gas and ensure a secure, 
competitive and diversified supply.'' \819\
    \816\ European Commission, ``Funding for Projects of Common 
Interest,'' https://ec.europa.eu/energy/en/topics/infrastructure/
projects-common-interest/funding-projects-common-interest (visited Dec. 
15, 2017).
    \817\ European Commission, ``EU Invests in Energy Security and 
Diversification in Central and South Eastern Europe,'' https://
central-and-south-eastern-europe-2017-dec-18--en (visited Jan. 4, 
    \818\ Robbie Gramer, ``First U.S. Natural Gas Shipped to Poland,'' 
Foreign Policy,  June 8, 2017.
    \819\ Agnia Grigas, ``U.S. Natural Gas Arrives in Lithuania,'' 
Foreign Affairs,  Sep. 12, 2017.
    The EU has also made market liberalization and integration 
a key part of its energy strategy, launching the ``Third Energy 
Package'' in 2011 to work towards a single EU gas and 
electricity market. The Package included key provisions on 
``unbundling,'' or separating the activities of energy 
transmission from production and supply interests. 
Subsequently, the EU concluded that Gazprom had to unbundle its 
plans for the South Stream pipeline, leading Gazprom to 
effectively cancel the project.\820\ A smart grid development 
between Slovenia and Croatia, as well as the development of 
improved Romania-Bulgaria electricity interconnections will 
also have positive effects. In northern Europe, several ongoing 
developments will also reduce dependence on Gazprom, including: 
a gas pipeline from Norway to Poland, via Denmark (Baltic 
Pipe); a Poland-Lithuania gas interconnector project; the 
construction of a Finland-Estonia gas pipeline; upgrades to 
make the Estonia-Latvia gas interconnector bi-directional; 
Baltic state participation in the ``Nordpool'' wholesale market 
for electricity; and plans for all Baltic states to 
desynchronize from the Russia-Belarus electricity grid and 
integrate into the European energy grid. All of these 
developments show the importance of improving intra-EU 
connectivity and moving away from monopoly suppliers and 
companies, especially state-driven monopoly suppliers, which 
bring along with them entrenched oligarchies and other bad 
    \820\ ``South Stream Bilateral Deals Breach EU Law, Commission 
Says,'' EURACTIV.com, Dec. 4, 2013.
    \821\ U.S. Department of State, Information Provided to Committee 


    The Russian government's malign influence and hybrid 
warfare operations have led to a strong sanctions regime 
jointly implemented by Europe and the United States. Many of 
these sanctions were put in place as a consequence for Russia's 
illegal annexation of Ukraine's Crimea and its support for 
separatists in eastern Ukraine. Other sanctions, especially 
those unilaterally implemented by the United States, punish 
malicious actors who are engaged in cyberattacks, human rights 
violations, or significant acts of corruption.
    The EU's sanctions require the unanimous agreement of all 
28 EU member states to implement, and unanimity is required to 
extend the sanctions every six months.\822\ The EU's sanctions 
against Russia fall in to three categories:
    \822\ Kristin Archick et al., EU Sanctions on Russia Related to the 
Ukraine Conflict, Congressional Research Service,  at 1 (Sept. 2017).

 1. Restrictive measures on individuals and entities in Russia 
        and Ukraine believed to be involved in the annexation 
        of Crimea and efforts to destabilize eastern Ukraine;

 2. Economic sanctions targeting Russia's finance, defense, and 
        energy sectors; and

 3. Restrictions on trade, investment, and tourism services 
        with the occupied Crimea region.\823\
    \823\ Ibid.

    In early 2014, shortly after Russia's annexation of Crimea, 
U.S. and EU sanctions mostly focused on visa bans and asset 
freezes, but under pressure from the U.S. Congress, the Obama 
Administration applied additional sectoral sanctions in July 
2014.\824\ After intelligence sources indicated that 
separatists using a Russian-supplied missile shot down Malaysia 
Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine, the EU also expanded its 
sanctions list and added sectoral sanctions.\825\ The EU has 
tied the removal of sanctions on Russia with the full 
implementation of the Minsk peace agreements for Ukraine, and 
appears to be committed to maintaining the sanctions until 
    \824\ Ibid.; U.S. Treasury Department, Office of Foreign Assets 
Control, ``Directives 1 and 2 Issued Pursuant to Executive Order 13662 
(Blocking Property of Additional Persons Contributing to the Situation 
in Ukraine),'' July 16, 2014.
    \825\ Julian Borger et al., ``EU Announces Further Sanctions on 
Russia After Downing of MH17,'' The Guardian,  July 22, 2017; European 
Council of the European Union, ``EU Restrictive Measures in Response to 
the Crisis in Ukraine,'' http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/policies/
sanctions/ukraine-crisis (visited Jan. 4, 2018).
    U.S. sanctions on Russia for Ukraine-related and cyber-
related matters were codified into law in August 2017 with the 
passage (by a vote of 98-2 in the Senate and 419-3 in the House 
of Representatives) and signing of the Countering America's 
Adversaries Through Sanctions Act of 2017, also known as 
CAATSA.\826\ The law codified Russia-related sanctions imposed 
by executive orders under the Obama Administration, and the 
cyber-related sanctions designating both the FSB and the GRU 
(Russia's military intelligence agency) as institutions 
threatening U.S. cybersecurity.\827\ CAATSA enlarged the scope 
of the sanctions to prohibit a range of cyber-related 
activities conducted on behalf of the Russian government that 
undermine the cybersecurity of any U.S. or foreign person.\828\ 
In addition, CAATSA mandated sanctions on U.S. or foreign 
persons that engage in significant transactions with persons 
related to Russia's defense or intelligence sectors.\829\ 
Furthermore, CAATSA targets corruption inside Russia by 
mandating sanctions on people who make or facilitate 
investments of at least $10 million that contribute to the 
privatization of Russian state-owned assets ``in a manner that 
unjustly benefits'' government officials, relatives, or 
    \826\ Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act 
(CAATSA), P.L. 115-44, Enacted Aug. 2, 2017 (originally introduced by 
Senator Ben Cardin as the Counteracting Russian Hostilities Act of 
2017, S. 94, Jan.11, 2017).
    \827\ Executive Order 13757, ``Taking Additional Steps to Address 
the National Emergency with Respect to Significant Malicious Cyber-
Enabled Activities,'' (Annex), Dec. 29, 2016.
    \828\ CAATSA, P.L. 115-44, Sec. 224.
    \829\ Ibid. Sec. 231.
    \830\ Ibid. Sec. 233.
    Beyond CAATSA, the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law 
Accountability Act and the Global Magnitsky Human Rights 
Accountability Act also allow, respectively, for the 
sanctioning of Russian individuals who are complicit in human 
rights abuses or corruption (see Chapter 2).\831\ Canada and 
some European countries, notably the United Kingdom, Lithuania, 
and Estonia, have also passed similar Global Magnitsky Act 
legislation to sanction human rights abusers and corrupt 
    \831\ Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, P.L. 112-
208, Title IV (enacted Dec. 14, 2012); The Global Magnitsky Human 
Rights Accountability Act, P.L. 114-328, Subtitle F, Title XII (enacted 
Dec. 23, 2016).
    \832\ Stratfor, ``Russia Won't Sit Still for Additional U.S. 
Sanctions,'' Dec. 28, 2017.
    While it is difficult to differentiate the economic impact 
of sanctions from the drop in oil prices and other 
macroeconomic effects, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) 
estimated in 2015 that U.S. and EU sanctions and Russia's 
retaliatory ban on agricultural imports reduced GDP in Russia 
over the short term by up to 1.5 percent.\833\ Over the medium 
term, IMF models suggest that sanctions could reduce output by 
up to 9 percent, as lower capital accumulation and reduced 
technology transfers further weaken productivity growth.\834\ 
Economists from the U.S. State Department calculated that, 
relative to non-sanctioned firms, the average sanctioned 
company in Russia saw decreases of one-third of its operating 
revenue, over one-half of its asset value, and about one-third 
of its employees. Their research also suggested that lower oil 
prices had a larger impact on Russia's overall economy than 
    \833\ International Monetary Fund, Russian Federation: Staff Report 
for the 2015 Article IV Consultation,  at 5 (Aug. 2015).
    \834\ Ibid.
    \835\ Daniel Ahn & Rodney Ludema, ``Measuring Smartness: 
Understanding the Economic Impact of Targeted Sanctions,'' Office of 
the Chief Economist, U.S. Department of State, Working Paper 2017-01, 
Dec. 2016.
    Even though Mr. Putin has complained that sanctions are 
`'severely harming Russia,'' when it comes to accessing 
international financial markets, the sanctions mostly affect 
state-owned companies and do not prohibit the government from 
selling bonds to Western investors. Furthermore, the Russian 
government can ease sanctioned firms' access to financing by 
lending them money raised from bond sales in international 
capital markets.\836\ The U.S. Treasury Department is required 
to report in early 2018 on the possible effects on Russia's 
economy of sanctions on sovereign debt, which could have the 
potential to foreclose external sources of funds. While the 
head of Russia's central bank believes that ``there won't be 
any seriously negative consequences'' from such sanctions, 
economists have warned that such sanctions ``may totally stop 
other foreign investors, not the U.S. investors only, from 
buying the new government debt, fiercely pushing up borrowing 
costs for Russia.''\837\
    \836\ Max Seddon & Elaine Moore, ``Russia Plans First Bond Issuance 
Since Sanctions,'' Financial Times,  Feb. 7, 2016.
    \837\ Andre Tartar & Anna Andrianova, ``Bond Sanctions Could Hurt 
Russia More Than It's Letting On,'' Bloomberg Markets,  Nov. 27, 2017; 
Andrew Biryukov & Natasha Doff, ``Russia Says Its Debt Markets Can 
Withstand the Shock of Sanctions,'' Bloomberg,  Nov. 16, 2017.


    The U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) seeks to 
``inform, engage, and connect people around the world in 
support of freedom and democracy,'' and it has pursued that 
goal with several efforts throughout Russian-speaking parts of 
the world.\838\ The BBG's regional strategy for Russia is to 
confront anti-American propaganda and misinformation in Russian 
media, demonstrate the value and role of free media, and 
counter the Kremlin's narrative. The BBG operates Voice of 
America (VOA) and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), the 
only alternative to Russian-owned or supported media outlets in 
many former Soviet Union countries.\839\
    \838\ Broadcasting Board of Governors, ``Mission,'' https://
www.bbg.gov/who-we-are/mission (visited Jan. 4, 2018).
    \839\ Government Accountability Office, U.S. Government Takes a 
Country-Specific Approach to Addressing Disinformation Overseas,  at 32 
(May 2017).
    In October 2014, RFE/RL, in cooperation with VOA, launched 
a 30-minute daily show called Current Time,  to provide 
Russian-speaking audiences with objective reporting and 
analysis of important events in the region and the United 
States (its motto: ``be truthful, be credible, be 
interesting'').\840\ The show has been successful, and in 
October 2016, building on the Current Time  brand, RFE/RL and 
VOA launched a 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week Russian-language 
news network, which broadcasts in Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, 
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Russia, as well as several 
countries in Central Asia.\841\ Current Time  also produces an 
hour-long Russian-language newscast about the United States, 
which provides in-depth interviews with high-profile figures, 
features about life in America (for example a 26-part series on 
the life of the Russian diaspora in America), and the 
perspectives of American officials and subject experts on 
current events, including simultaneous interpretation of high-
profile U.S. political and breaking news events.\842\
    \840\ In November 2017, as retaliation for the U.S. Department of 
Justice's request that RT register under the Foreign Agents 
Registration Act (FARA), the Duma passed a law that allows Russia's 
Ministry of Justice to add foreign media outlets to Russia's registry 
of foreign agents, so long as the organizations are based outside of 
Russia and receive funds from abroad. Shortly thereafter, Russia's 
Ministry of Justice sent a letter to Current Time  threatening to 
restrict its activities because it `'shows the signs of performing the 
function of a foreign agent.'' Russian officials also suggested that 
VOA, CNN, and Germany's Deutsche Welle could face similar treatment. 
``Russia's Justice Ministry Warns the U.S.-Government-Funded Media 
Outlet `Current Time' That Will Be Treated As A Foreign Agent,'' 
Meduza,  Nov. 15, 2017; ``Russia's Federation Council Passes `Foreign 
Agents' Media Bill,'' Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty,  Nov. 22, 2017.
    \841\ Current Time  TV, https://www.currenttime.tv/p/6018.html 
(visited Dec. 31, 2017). Current Time  also includes programs on fact-
checking, culture, and entertainment.
    \842\ Committee Staff Discussion with VOA Officials.
    As a sign of its influence, Russian state media has labeled 
Current Time's reporting part of a ``U.S. information war'' and 
a threat to Russia's national security. RFE/RL officials note 
that with just twice as much funding (the current budget is 
about $22 million) they could produce four times as much 
content, allowing for around-the-clock breaking news coverage 
and original programming.
    RFE/RL and VOA also produce other regionally-focused 
programming, such as Crimea Realities, a weekly show that 
features news and stories on life in Crimea under increasingly 
authoritarian governance; Schemes, a weekly investigative news 
program that reports on corruption throughout Ukraine; and See 
Both Sides, a weekly show that explores the differences in how 
media in different regions--especially Russian state-owned 
media--cover the same news stories.\843\ BBG has also 
contracted with PBS to bring almost 400 hours of U.S. public 
media programming to Estonia, Lithuania, and Ukraine.\844\ 
Bringing more high-quality U.S. educational and entertainment 
content to broadcasters in Russia's periphery can help displace 
Russian television content, which is licensed for next-to-
nothing but often comes with obligations to also broadcast 
Kremlin-sponsored ``news'' programs.
    \843\ Josh Lederman, ``US-Funded News Channel in Russian Offers 
Kremlin Alternative,'' Associated Press, Feb. 8, 2017; ``RFE/RL's 
Ukrainian Service: Radio Svoboda,'' Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty,  
https://pressroom.rferl.org/p/6139.html (visited Jan. 4, 2017).
    \844\ Statement of Benjamin G. Ziff, Deputy Assistant Secretary, 
Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, U.S. Department of State, 
Putin's Invasion of Ukraine and the Propaganda that Threatens Europe,  
Hearing before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Europe and Regional 
Security Cooperation, Nov. 3, 2015, at 7.
    In addition to TV programming, RFE/RL and VOA create 
Russian-language video content for social media and mobile 
platforms, mostly aimed at youth, and operate a fact-checking 
website, Polygraph.info.\845\ Polygraph focuses on fact-
checking statements on relations between Russia and the West, 
however, the website is only in English, severely limiting its 
ability to reach Russian-speaking audiences in Europe.\846\
    \845\ Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of State and 
Broadcasting Board of Governors, ``Inspection of Radio Free Europe/
Radio Liberty,'' at 4 (May 2014); Government Accountability Office, 
U.S. Government Takes a Country-Specific Approach to Addressing 
Disinformation Overseas,  at 16 (May 2017).
    \846\ Government Accountability Office, U.S. Government Takes a 
Country-Specific Approach to Addressing Disinformation Overseas, at 16 
(May 2017).; Polygraph.info, ``About,'' https://www.polygraph.info/p/
5981.html (visited Dec. 15, 2017).


    In contrast to many European countries, especially the 
Baltic and Nordic states, the U.S. government still lacks a 
coherent, public strategy to counter the Kremlin's 
disinformation operations abroad and at home. Instead, it has a 
patchwork of offices and programs tasked with mitigating the 
effects of Kremlin disinformation operations.\847\ At the 
direction of the U.S. Congress, the central hub for these 
activities is the Global Engagement Center (GEC), within the 
State Department.\848\ In December 2016, Congress expanded the 
GEC's mandate from countering terrorist communications to 
include ``foreign state and non-state propaganda and 
disinformation efforts'' that target the U.S. and its 
interests.\849\ However, a lack of urgency and self-imposed 
constraints by the current State Department leadership has left 
the effort in limbo.
    \847\ These efforts include monitoring, fact-checking, promoting 
objective news content, and providing training and grants to improve 
skills in media literacy and investigative journalism. The National 
Endowment for Democracy (NED), for example, has increased support for 
media literacy programs in the Baltics and Eastern Europe that address 
Russian disinformation.
    \848\ The GEC is tasked with coordinating counter-disinformation 
efforts across the U.S. government and includes personnel from the 
Department of Defense, Department of Treasury, Central Intelligence 
Agency, National Security Agency, National Counterterrorism Center, and 
the Broadcasting Board of Governors.
    \849\ National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, P.L. 
114-328, Section 1287, Enacted Dec. 23, 2016.
    Launched in March 2016, the GEC is the latest in a line of 
State Department attempts to coordinate interagency counter-
messaging efforts.\850\ Recognizing the severity of the 
disinformation threat and the additional resources needed to 
counter it, Congress increased the GEC's budget by nearly 
three-fold by enabling the State Department to request up to 
$60 million a year from the Department of Defense (DoD), and 
gave the GEC new hiring and grant-making authorities. GEC 
officials planned to use about half of those new funds on 
countering Kremlin disinformation, and a quarter of the new 
funds to increase the organization's data science capability 
(currently the GEC works across four lines of effort: messaging 
partnerships, content planning, government coordination, and 
data analysis). But Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was slow 
to approve the additional funding, with one of his top aides 
reportedly concerned that the extra money would anger 
Moscow.\851\ After coming under pressure from Congress, 
Tillerson eventually approved $40 million, but inexplicably 
rejected another $20 million that could have been used to 
counter Russian disinformation.\852\ The GEC was also hamstrung 
by the Department's hiring freeze, kept in place by Tillerson, 
which prevented the hiring of new personnel to meet the 
office's expanded mandate and mission.
    \850\ The GEC's state-sponsored propaganda mandate includes Russia, 
China, North Korea, and Iran, with different teams dedicated to each.
    \851\ Nahal Toosi, ``Tillerson Spurns $80 Million to Counter ISIS, 
Russian Propaganda,'' Politico,  Aug. 2, 2017.
    \852\ Nahal Toosi, ``Tillerson Moves Toward Accepting Funding for 
Fighting Russian propaganda,'' Politico,  Aug. 31, 2017.
    In the State Department, the GEC reports to the Under 
Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, a position 
for which the Trump Administration waited nearly eight months 
to announce a nominee. As of publication of this report in 
January 2018, the Administration has yet to fill the Special 
Envoy and Coordinator of the GEC, suggesting that the 
Administration does not consider the GEC's new mission of 
countering foreign state propaganda a priority. The 
Administration's lackadaisical approach to staffing these 
positions and providing leadership to U.S. efforts to fight 
Kremlin disinformation stands in sharp contrast to the 
accelerating nature of the threat. As one GEC official put it, 
``every week we spend on process is a week the Russians are 
spending on operations.'' \853\
    \853\ Committee Staff Discussion with GEC Officials (2017).
    The GEC has a critical role to play in closing the gaps in 
the U.S. government's efforts to counter the Kremlin's 
disinformation operations. New funding and grant-making 
authorities delegated to the GEC should be used to support 
existing, effective organizations in Russia's periphery engaged 
in monitoring disinformation, promoting media literacy, and 
producing objective news content and investigative journalism. 
These organizations would benefit greatly from additional 
funding that would enable them to expand operations and reach 
larger audiences. To ensure that the GEC is fulfilling its 
objectives and funds are used as intended, Congress must be 
vigilant in monitoring the GEC's progress and effectiveness if 
the United States is to achieve the level of engagement needed 
to counter foreign state propaganda and disinformation.
    In addition to the GEC, the State Department and USAID 
support a number of other assistance programs that can help 
build resilience in democratic institutions, to include 
projects to monitor and counter disinformation, promote 
independent media and investigative journalism, and strengthen 
civil society and civic education. State Department officials 
overseas closely monitor local media stories and distribute 
them throughout the Department and U.S. embassies.\854\ The 
U.S. government conducts or commissions polls of foreign 
audiences to get a read on their perceptions of Russian media, 
as well as their reactions to different types of messages. The 
State Department and the Department of Defense's European 
Command (EUCOM) have launched a joint effort called the Russian 
Information Group (RIG), which grew out of a small social media 
group called the Ukraine Task Force that the State Department 
set up to counter Russian disinformation in Ukraine in 2014. 
RIG seeks to support a ``credible counter-Russian voice in the 
region,'' according to a former senior State Department 
official.\855\ In testimony before the Senate Armed Services 
Committee, the head of EUCOM, General Curtis Scaparrotti, noted 
that the RIG ``has to be reinforced, it has to be financed, 
they have to have the authorities that they need to lead that 
forward.'' \856\ Finally, State Department exchange programs, 
such as the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), 
can be highly effective counter measures to Russian state media 
disinformation campaigns. IVLP brings media professionals to 
the United States and trains them on investigative journalism 
skills and the role of a free press in democracies.\857\
    \854\ Two offices in the State Department conduct audience research 
around the world to inform public diplomacy messaging efforts: The 
Office of Opinion Research, located within the Bureau of Intelligence 
and Research, and the Office of Policy, Planning, and Resources, 
located within the Office of the Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy 
and Public Affairs. The Department of State also launched a Russian-
language Twitter feed in 2015 to enable U.S. diplomats to share 
official statements directly with Russian-speaking audiences (some 
analysts report that this Twitter account only appeals to a very 
limited audience). Government Accountability Office, U.S. Government 
Takes a Country-Specific Approach to Addressing Disinformation 
Overseas, (May 2017).
    \855\ Rick Stengel, ``What Hillary Knew About Putin's Propaganda 
Machine,'' Politico,  Nov. 15, 2017.
    \856\ Testimony of General Curtis Scaparrotti, Commander, U.S. 
European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, U.S. 
Department of Defense, United States European Command,  Hearing before 
the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services, Mar. 23, 2017.
    \857\ U.S. Department of State, ``IVLP,'' https://eca.state.gov/
ivlp (visited Jan. 4, 2018). Although beyond the scope of this report, 
the U.S. has made considerable investments in enhancing the military 
capabilities of our partners in Europe to deter Russia since 2014. For 
2018, the U.S. is seeking a $1.4 billion increase, to $4.8 billion, for 
the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI). As part of EDI, the U.S. 
deploys on average 7,000 servicemembers to Europe. The U.S. also plays 
a leading role in NATO's ``Enhanced Forward Presence'' which deploys 
multi-national battlegroups to Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland. 
As of May 9, 2017, 4,530 troops from 15 countries participate in the 
EFP effort. U.S. European Command Public Affairs Office ``2018 European 
Deterrence Initiative (EDI) Fact Sheet,'' Oct. 2, 2017; NATO Enhanced 
Forward Presence Factsheet, May 2017.
    To their credit, mid-level officials at the State 
Department have given some thought to crafting a ``multi-
faceted approach to push back against the Russian 
[government's] malign influence.'' In congressional testimony, 
Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, 
Hoyt Yee, outlined the State Department's approach to 
combatting Kremlin propaganda, which includes ``amplifying our 
messages, correcting false statements, and engaging decision 
makers,'' to support independent media and investigative 
journalists with small grants.\858\ In its December 2017 
National Security Strategy, the White House admitted that the 
United States has done too little to deter Putin's assaults, 
noting, ``U.S. efforts to counter the exploitation of 
information by rivals have been tepid and fragmented. U.S. 
efforts have lacked a sustained focus and have been hampered by 
the lack of properly trained professionals.'' \859\ While 
recognizing these shortcomings is an important first step, the 
Administration has unfortunately failed to put forward a plan 
to rectify them. Notably, the Strategy states only that ``the 
United States and Europe will work together to counter Russian 
subversion and aggression.'' \860\ Yet coordination is only one 
piece of the aggressive strategy that the United States needs.
    \858\ Testimony by Hoyt Yee, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of 
European and Eurasian Affairs, U.S. Department of State, The Balkans: 
Threats to Peace and Stability, Hearing before the U.S. House of 
Representatives Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and 
Emerging Threats, May 17, 2017, at 3.
    \859\ The White House, National Security Strategy of the United 
States of America, at 35 (Dec. 2017).
    \860\ Ibid. at 48.


               Chapter 8: Conclusions and Recommendations


    The Russian government, under Putin's leadership, has shown 
that it is both capable of and willing to assault democratic 
and transatlantic institutions and alliances. These assaults 
take many forms, including the use of disinformation, 
cyberattacks, military invasions, alleged political 
assassinations, threats to energy security, election 
interference, and other subversive tactics that fuel 
corruption, employ organized crime, and exploit both far-right 
and far-left ideologies to sow discord and create confusion. 
Putin also seeks to repress the exercise of human rights and 
political participation both at home and abroad, to promote a 
climate more conducive to the Russian government's corrupt and 
anti-democratic behavior.
    There are multiple lines of effort across the West--at the 
local, national, and supranational level--working to counter 
the Kremlin's malign influence operations and build resiliency 
in democratic institutions. The United Kingdom's leadership has 
made resolute, public statements that Russian meddling is 
unacceptable and will be countered. The French government has 
worked with independent media and political parties to expose 
and blunt the dissemination of fake news. The German government 
has bolstered domestic cybersecurity capacities, particularly 
after the 2015 hack of the Bundestag. Estonia has strengthened 
counterintelligence capabilities and exposed the intelligence 
operations of its eastern neighbor. The Lithuanian government 
has made progress in diversifying its supplies of natural gas, 
and all the Baltic governments have worked to integrate their 
electricity grids to reduce dependence on Soviet-era electrical 
infrastructure. The Nordic countries have built resiliency 
across all elements of society, especially in their education 
systems. And the Spanish government has investigated, exposed, 
and cut off significant money laundering operations by Russia-
based organized crime groups.
    In the disinformation sphere, current multilateral efforts 
run the gamut from monitoring and fact-checking to promoting 
investigative journalism and media literacy. Monitoring and 
fact-checking initiatives are a necessary and logical first 
step--the problem has to be identified and understood before it 
can be addressed. And as the Kremlin continues to change its 
methods and tactics in response to growing awareness and 
adaptation by its targets, it will be necessary to continue 
existing monitoring efforts to inform responses.
    However, monitoring and countering propaganda alone will 
never be sufficient. While a whole-of-government approach is 
necessary to identify the threat and sound the trumpet, a 
whole-of-society approach is necessary to neutralize it. The 
EU, NATO, and member states' ministries of defense, foreign 
affairs, and interior may develop tactical responses to the 
threat of disinformation, but it will ultimately be the 
education ministries, civil society, and independent news 
organizations that are most effective in inoculating their 
societies against fake news.
    In addition, no single country or institution has yet 
stepped forward to be the leader in coordinating efforts to 
build resilience against the Kremlin's asymmetric arsenal and 
identifying and filling any gaps. The U.S. government has a 
unique capacity to lead the formulation and implementation of a 
grand strategy with individual countries and multilateral 
groups in Europe, like NATO and the EU, to counter and deter 
hybrid threats emanating from the Kremlin. While the Global 
Engagement Center (GEC) has begun outreach to allies in Europe, 
the U.S. government appears not to have a strategic plan to 
comprehensively counter Russian government influence and 
interference, including but not limited to disinformation. 
There are several institutions in Europe working on countering 
disinformation that could benefit from additional U.S. 
engagement, and U.S. leadership and coordination among donors 
could also help maximize the effectiveness of existing 
    Yet despite the growing intensity of Russian government 
interference operations, President Trump has largely ignored 
this threat to democracy in the United States and Europe. The 
Trump Administration has also proposed cuts to assistance 
across Europe that could help counter the Kremlin's malign 
influence, especially in the areas of good governance, anti-
corruption, and independent media efforts. President Trump is 
squandering an opportunity to lead America's allies and 
partners to build a collective defense against the Kremlin's 
global assault on democratic institutions and values. But it is 
not too late.
    By implementing the recommendations below, the United 
States can better deter and defend against the Kremlin's use of 
its asymmetric arsenal, while also strengthening international 
norms and values to blunt the effects of malign influence 
operations by any state actor, including Russia.

    1. Assert Presidential Leadership and Launch a National 
Response: President Trump has been negligent in acknowledging 
and responding to the threat to U.S. national security posed by 
Putin's meddling.

 a. Declare the Policy: The President should immediately 
        declare that it is U.S. policy to counter and deter all 
        forms of the Kremlin's hybrid threats against the 
        United States and around the world. This policy should 
        be a visibly prominent component of the 
        administration's agenda--policymakers should discuss 
        these issues publicly and regularly raise the threat 
        posed by the Russian government in their diplomatic 
        interactions. The President should also present to 
        Congress a comprehensive national strategy to counter 
        these grave national security threats and work with the 
        Congress and our allies to get this strategy 
        implemented and funded.
 b. Establish an Inter-Agency Fusion Cell: The President should 
        establish a high-level inter-agency fusion cell, 
        modeled on the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), 
        to coordinate all elements of U.S. policy and 
        programming in response to the Russian government's 
        malign influence operations. This fusion cell should 
        include representatives from the FBI, CIA, and 
        Departments of Homeland Security, State, Defense, and 
        Treasury and it should immediately produce a strategy, 
        plan, and robust budget that coordinates all current 
        and projected government programming to counter Russian 
        government interference and malign influence.
 c. Build U.S. Expertise: The U.S. government should increase 
        funding for programs administered by the State 
        Department's Intelligence and Research Bureau that aim 
        to educate and develop Europe and Eurasia experts in 
        the United States. Programming and training at the 
        State Department's Foreign Service Institute should 
        also be expanded to include courses on the Russian 
        government's malign influence activities. Such courses 
        should also be accessible to relevant officials from 
        other U.S. agencies represented on the inter-agency 
        fusion cell described above.
 d. Increase Funding to Counter Disinformation: The U.S. 
        government should increase the funding dedicated to 
        countering Russian disinformation, working primarily 
        though partners in vulnerable countries. The GEC should 
        also accept all funding from the Defense Department 
        made available through congressional appropriations and 
        use it to increase the capacity of existing 
        organizations in Russia's periphery that are engaged in 
        monitoring disinformation, promoting media literacy, 
        and producing objective news content and investigative 
        journalism with local impact. Grants should also 
        provide multi-year funding to allow these organizations 
        to formulate and implement long-term strategic plans. 
        The BBG should expand funding for sophisticated 
        Russian-language VOA programming like Current Time and 
        find more creative ways to bring high-quality U.S. 
        educational and entertainment programming to media 
        markets vulnerable to Kremlin propaganda.

    2. Support Democratic Institution Building and Values 
Abroad, and with a Stronger Congressional Voice: The executive 
and legislative branches have a responsibility to show 
leadership on universal values of democracy and human rights. A 
lack of U.S. leadership risks undermining or endangering 
democratic activists and human rights defenders around the 
world--including within Russia--who are working to advance 
these values in their own societies. It also risks weakening 
democratic institutions, including independent media and civil 
society, that are critical actors in overcoming disinformation, 
shining a light on corruption and abuses, and building 
resiliency against Kremlin attempts to divide and weaken 
democratic societies. Furthermore, democracies with transparent 
governments, the rule of law, a free media, and engaged 
citizens are naturally more resilient to Putin's asymmetric 

 a. Increase Assistance: The U.S. government should provide 
        democracy and governance assistance, in concert with 
        allies in Europe, to build resilience in democratic 
        institutions among those European and Eurasian states 
        most vulnerable to Russian government interference. 
        Using the funding authorization outlined in CAATSA as 
        policy guidance, the U.S. government should increase 
        this spending in Europe and Eurasia to at least $250 
        million over the next two fiscal years.

 b. Clear Messaging: To reinforce these efforts, the U.S. 
        government should demonstrate clear and sustained 
        diplomatic leadership in support of the individual 
        human rights that form the backbone of democratic 
        systems. U.S. and European government officials at the 
        highest levels should message clearly and regularly in 
        support of universal principles of human rights and 
        accountable governance in Europe and Eurasia, and, in 
        particular, speak out regularly regarding Russian 
        government abuses against its own citizens. These 
        messages should be delivered through public statements 
        as well as in private, high-level diplomatic 
        engagements. U.S. and European officials should also 
        utilize the Organization for Security and Cooperation 
        in Europe (OSCE), the United Nations Human Rights 
        Council, and other multilateral fora to deliver these 
        messages and to hold the Russian government and other 
        governments in Europe and Eurasia accountable to their 
        international human rights obligations and commitments.

 c. Legislative Branch Leadership: Members in the U.S. Congress 
        have a responsibility to show U.S. leadership on values 
        by making democracy and human rights a central part of 
        their agendas. They should conduct committee hearings 
        and use their platforms to publicly advance these 
        issues. This would include using the Senate 
        confirmation process to elicit commitments from 
        nominees on democracy and human rights. Congress should 
        also institutionalize platforms for regular dialogue 
        with parliaments across Europe and Eurasia on issues of 
        democracy and human rights, to include multilateral 
        bodies such as the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, as well 
        as bilateral parliamentary engagements. Members of 
        Congress should also regularly visit countries in the 
        region to further solidify transatlantic bonds; such 
        visits should include engagement with civil society.

 d. Leverage Legacy Enterprise Foundations: The U.S. government 
        established a series of enterprise funds across Central 
        and Eastern Europe which exhibited varying degrees of 
        success and spun off into legacy foundations that 
        provide grants to civil society actors and independent 
        media across the region. The U.S. government should 
        require those foundations to strategically focus their 
        investments on efforts to counter the Russian 
        government's malign influence. In particular, tens of 
        millions of dollars associated with the U.S. Russia 
        Foundation have been dormant for years due to 
        ``congressional holds'' by the House Foreign Affairs 
        Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The 
        issues associated with those holds should be resolved 
        so those funds can be unlocked and used to counter 
        Russian government aggression.

 e. Support for Democratic Institutions and Processes in 
        Russia: The U.S. government and its European partners 
        should maintain a lifeline of support to non-
        governmental organizations and independent media 
        outlets in Russia that are promoting respect for human 
        rights, transparency, and accountability in their 
        country, and follow these entities' lead in determining 
        the contours of such support. This work is not meant to 
        interfere in the affairs of another country, but simply 
        supports those values enshrined in the Helsinki Final 
        Act, to which Russia is a signatory.

 f. People to People Exchanges: The U.S. State Department 
        should, to the extent possible, seek to expand programs 
        and opportunities that increase interaction between 
        American and Russian citizens, as well as other 
        European countries, and should work to ensure that such 
        people-to-people ties are not used as grounds for 
        persecution of Russian citizens by their government. It 
        should also increase cultural exchanges, especially 
        study abroad semesters, Fulbright scholarships, 
        International Visitor Leadership Program exchanges, 
        Peace Corps, and other programs that increase 
        interaction between Americans and citizens that live in 
        the countries on Russia's periphery or that are 
        particularly vulnerable to Russian malign influence.

 g. Strengthen Use of International Monitoring and 
        Accountability Mechanisms: The OSCE's Moscow Mechanism, 
        invoked by a group of OSCE participating States or 
        requested by the state in question itself, can enable a 
        mission of experts to investigate and facilitate 
        resolution to questions related to human rights in a 
        particular OSCE participating State. Since it was 
        agreed to in 1991, the Moscow Mechanism has been used 
        seven times--both with and without the cooperation of 
        the state in question. This mechanism should be 
        activated more frequently and used to the fullest 
        extent possible, and with respect to Russia, to respond 
        to demands from within that country for scrutiny of the 
        Kremlin's domestic human rights record and providing 
        specific recommendations for remedying abuses.

    3. Expose and Freeze Kremlin-Linked Dirty Money: Corruption 
provides the motivation and the means for many of the Kremlin's 
malign influence operations. Under President Putin, the Kremlin 
has nationalized organized crime and cybercrime, and now uses 
Russia-based organized crime groups and cybercriminals for 
operational purposes abroad. The United States remains a prime 
destination for illicit financial flows from Russia, especially 
through the purchase of real estate and luxury goods by 
anonymous shell companies. The U.S. capability to 
constructively assist countries in the region remains weak due 
to an inadequate number of U.S. embassy personnel focused on 
these issues.

 a. Expose High-Level Individual Corruption: The Treasury 
        Department should make public any intelligence related 
        to Putin's personal corruption and wealth stored 
        abroad, and take steps with European allies to cut off 
        Putin and his inner circle from the international 
        financial system.

 b. Expose Energy Sector Corruption: The U.S. government should 
        also expose corrupt and criminal activities associated 
        with Russia's state-owned energy sector.

 c. Impose Sanctions: The U.S. government should implement the 
        Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and 
        the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions 
        Act (CAATSA) provisions, which allow for sanctions 
        against corrupt actors in Russia and abroad.

 d. Russia Financial Task Force: The U.S. Treasury Department 
        should form a high-level unit within its Office of 
        Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCen) that is 
        tasked solely with investigating and prosecuting 
        Russian-linked illicit financial flows. The unit should 
        also place liaison officers in select U.S. embassies 
        throughout Europe, and the U.S. government should 
        encourage our European partners to set up similar 

 e. Corruption Reporting: The U.S. government should issue 
        yearly reports that assign tiered classifications based 
        on objective third-party corruption indicators, as well 
        as governmental efforts to combat corruption.

    4. Subject State Hybrid Threat Actors to an Escalatory 
Sanctions Regime: The Kremlin and other regimes hostile to 
democracy must know that there will be consequences for their 

 a. Create a New Designation: The U.S. government should 
        designate countries that employ malign influence 
        operations to assault democracies as State Hybrid 
        Threat Actors.

 b. Establish an Escalatory Sanctions Regime: Countries that 
        are designated as such would fall under a preemptive 
        and escalatory sanctions regime that would be applied 
        whenever the state uses asymmetric weapons like 
        cyberattacks to interfere with a democratic election or 
        disrupt a country's vital infrastructure. Existing 
        sanctions included within the CAATSA legislation can be 
        used to target those involved with cyberattacks.

 c. Coordinate sanctions with the EU: The U.S. government 
        should work with the EU to ensure that these sanctions 
        are coordinated and effective.

    5. Publicize the Kremlin's Global Malign Influence Efforts: 
Exposing and publicizing the nature of the threat of Russian 
malign influence activities, as the Baltic states regularly do 
and the U.S. intelligence community did in January 2017, can be 
an action-forcing event that not only boosts public awareness, 
but also drives effective responses from the private sector, 
especially social media platforms, as well as civil society and 
independent media, who can use the information to pursue their 
own investigations.

 a. Issue Public Malign Influence Reporting: The Director of 
        National Intelligence should produce yearly public 
        reports that detail the Russian government's malign 
        influence operations in the United States. The 
        Department of State should similarly produce annual 
        reports on those operations around the world.

 b. Declassify Assassination Intelligence: The Director of 
        National Intelligence should also update and consider 
        declassifying its report to Congress on the use of 
        political assassinations as a form of statecraft by the 
        Russian government.

 c. Establish Independent Commissions to Investigate Election 
        Meddling: The U.S. Congress should pass pending 
        legislation to create an independent, nonpartisan 
        commission to comprehensively investigate Russian 
        government interference in the 2016 U.S. election. 
        Countries across Europe that have held elections over 
        the past two years should also consider comprehensive 
        governmental or independent investigations into the 
        nature and scope of Russian government interference.

    6. Build an International Coalition to Counter Hybrid 
Threats: The United States is stronger and more effective when 
we work with our partners and allies abroad.

 a. Build the Coalition: The U.S. government should lead an 
        international effort of like-minded democracies to 
        build awareness of and resilience to the Kremlin's 
        malign influence operations. Specifically, the 
        President should convene an annual global summit on 
        hybrid threats, modeled on the Global Coalition to 
        Counter ISIL or the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) 
        summits that have taken place since 2015. Civil society 
        and the private sector should participate in the 
        summits and follow-on activities.

 b. Harness the OSCE: The OSCE should be a central forum for 
        exposing Russian government attacks on democracy and 
        directly challenging its actions. As part of her Senate 
        confirmation hearing, the nominee for U.S. Ambassador 
        to the OSCE should commit to using every tool and forum 
        to advance this goal, working with like-minded 
        countries in the organization. The U.S. should also 
        expand its extra-budgetary support to OSCE projects 
        aimed at building resilience to external threats to 
        democratic institutions and processes in OSCE 
        participating states.

 c. Share Successful Techniques: The State Department and USAID 
        should conduct a comprehensive assessment of the most 
        successful efforts to counter Russian government 
        interference in all of its forms and partner with 
        relevant governments, aid agencies, and NGOs to ensure 
        that these lessons are shared with the most vulnerable 
        countries in Europe and Eurasia. For example, based on 
        constructive measures taken during the recent French 
        and German election periods, the United States could 
        work closely with their Ministries of Foreign Affairs, 
        the French Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD) and 
        the German Gesellschaft fur Internationale 
        Zusammenarbeit (GiZ) to implement specific joint 
        programs in vulnerable democracies on cyber defense, 
        media training, and other areas.

 d. Participate in Centers of Excellence: The U.S. government 
        should provide funding and seconded U.S. government 
        employees for the Finnish Hybrid Center of Excellence 
        and NATO Centers of Excellence related to strategic 
        communication, cyber security, and energy independence.

 e. Deploy FBI Investigators to Key Embassies in Vulnerable 
        European Countries: The U.S. Department of Justice 
        should deploy FBI investigators to vulnerable countries 
        in Europe with a mandate to address Russian government 
        and oligarchic efforts to corrupt economies, societies, 
        and governments. Countries across the region contend 
        with corruption, but some U.S. embassies across the 
        region lack the capacity to fully assist and coordinate 
        with these anti-corruption efforts at a diplomatic 
        level. These positions should be on par with Defense 
        Attaches from the Pentagon and prioritized as such.

 f. Promote Passage of Magnitsky Laws Abroad: The 2012 Sergei 
        Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act calls on the 
        U.S. government to engage in diplomatic efforts to 
        lobby other governments to pass similar laws. The U.S. 
        government should report to Congress on their efforts 
        to persuade countries in Europe and Eurasia to pass 
        legislation modeled after the U.S. Magnitsky Laws (both 
        the Russia-specific and the Global Magnitsky Human 
        Rights Accountability laws) that enable targeted, 
        individual sanctions against gross violators of human 
        rights and perpetrators of significant acts of 
        corruption. Furthermore, these laws must be strongly 
        implemented by the U.S. executive branch.

    7. Uncover Foreign Funding that Erodes Democracy: Foreign 
illicit money corrupts the political, social, and economic 
systems of democracies.

 a. Pass Legislation on Campaign Finance Transparency and Shell 
        Companies: The United States and European countries 
        must make it more difficult for foreign actors to use 
        financial resources to interfere in democratic systems, 
        specifically by passing legislation to require full 
        disclosure of shell company owners and improve 
        transparency for funding of political parties, 
        campaigns, and advocacy groups.

    8. Build Global Cyber Defenses and Norms: The United States 
and our European allies remain woefully vulnerable to 
cyberattacks, which are a preferred asymmetric weapon of state 
hybrid threat actors. While the threat posed by cyberattacks 
from state and non-state actors has grown, the international 
community has not developed rules of the road which could 
establish norms that govern behavior over the long term. 
Moreover, the United States and its allies have not defined the 
contours of cyberattacks in the context of NATO's Article 5. In 
addition to the strategic-level discussion on cyber threats, 
the U.S. government does not have an institution capable of 
robustly engaging and assisting non-governmental entities under 
pressure from cyberattacks. The administration has tools, like 
the CAATSA legislation, which authorized sanctions on those who 
conduct cyberattacks on democratic institutions. It has yet to 
exercise these authorities, despite the existence of clear 
sanctions targets.

 a. Establish a Cyber Alliance: The U.S. government and NATO 
        should lead a coalition of countries committed to 
        mutual defense against cyberattacks, to include the 
        establishment of rapid reaction teams to defend allies 
        under attack.

 b. Discuss Article 5: The U.S. government should also call a 
        special meeting of the NATO heads of state to review 
        the extent of Russian government-sponsored cyberattacks 
        among member states and develop formal guidelines on 
        how the Alliance will consider such attacks in the 
        context of NATO's Article 5 mutual protection 

 c. Negotiate an International Treaty: The U.S. government 
        should lead an effort to establish an international 
        treaty on the use of cyber tools in peace time, modeled 
        on international arms control treaties.

 d. Implement Existing Cyber-related Sanctions: The 
        administration should fully implement Section 224 of 
        CAATSA, which mandates sanctions on individuals acting 
        on behalf of the Russian government who undermine the 
        cybersecurity of any government or democratic 
        institution. The administration should also work to 
        build support in Europe for a similar package of EU 
        cyber sanctions.

 e. Increase Transatlantic Cooperation on Combatting 
        Cybercrime: The U.S. government should work with 
        European partners to raise the priority of 
        investigating and prosecuting Russia-based organized 
        crime groups and cybercriminals, who should be viewed 
        not just as criminal threats, but as threats to 
        national security. Agencies should increase information 
        sharing between intelligence and law enforcement 
        entities, and increase the targeting of criminal 

    9. Hold Social Media Companies Accountable: Social media 
platforms are a key conduit of disinformation that undermines 

 a. Make Political Advertising on Social Media Transparent: 
        U.S. and European governments should mandate that 
        social media companies make public the sources of 
        funding for political advertisements, along the same 
        lines as TV channels and print media.

 b. Conduct Audits on Election Period Interference: European 
        governments should also increase pressure on and 
        cooperation with social media companies to determine 
        the extent of Russian-linked disinformation operations 
        using fake accounts in recent elections and referendums 
        around the continent. Social media companies should 
        conduct comprehensive audits on how their platforms may 
        have been used by Kremlin-linked entities to influence 
        elections occurring over the past several years.

 c. Convene Civil Society Advisory Councils: Social media 
        companies should also establish civil society advisory 
        councils to provide input and warnings about emerging 
        disinformation trends. Leaders from the United States 
        and Europe in government, the private sector, and civil 
        society must work to promote a culture where citizens 
        are armed with critical thinking skills. To that end, 
        philanthropic organizations should embark on an 
        initiative to work with educational organizations and 
        social media companies to develop a curriculum on media 
        literacy and critical thinking skills that could be 
        offered free of charge to the public. These tools 
        should also be amplified for the broader public through 
        a large scale media campaign.

 d. Block Malicious Inauthentic and/or Automated Accounts: 
        While accounting for freedom of speech concerns, social 
        media companies should redouble efforts to prevent, 
        detect, and delete such accounts, especially those that 
        are primarily used to promote false news stories.

    10. Reduce European Dependence on Russian Energy Sources: 
Europe is overly dependent on Gazprom, a Russian state-owned 
company, for its natural gas supplies. Payments to Gazprom from 
European states fund military aggression abroad, as well as 
overt and covert activities that undermine democratic 
institutions and social cohesion in Europe. The Russian 
government uses the near monopoly of its state-owned natural 
gas companies over European gas supplies as leverage in 
political and economic negotiations with European transshipment 
countries, especially Ukraine and the Balkans.

 a. Promote Energy Diversification: OPIC and USTDA should help 
        to finance strategically important energy 
        diversification projects in Europe. This includes 
        supporting new pipeline projects such as the Trans 
        Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) and the Trans Anatolian Natural 
        Gas Pipeline (TANAP), as well as the construction of 
        more liquid natural gas (LNG) regasification terminals 
        to facilitate the import of LNG from non-Russian 
        sources. The U.S. should also support efforts that 
        promote renewable energy options.

 b. Support a Single EU Energy Market: The U.S. government, 
        through OPIC, USTDA, and other assistance mechanisms, 
        should also support strategic infrastructure projects 
        that support the realization of a single EU gas and 
        electricity market. The U.S. government should also 
        assist EU governments with implementation of the EU's 
        Third Energy Package, which seeks to establish a single 
        energy market.

 c. Oppose Nord Stream 2: The U.S. should continue to oppose 
        Nord Stream 2. The U.S. government should encourage the 
        European Commission and Parliament to sponsor an 
        independent inquiry into the energy security and 
        geopolitical implications of Nord Stream 2 and its 
        infrastructure in Russia and host countries. The U.S. 
        Departments of Energy and State should assist the 
        independent inquiry in whatever way possible.




              Appendix A: 1999 Apartment Building Bombings


    In early September 1999, less than three weeks after Putin 
was installed as Prime Minister, a large truck bomb destroyed a 
five-story apartment building in the Russian republic of 
Dagestan, killing 64 people.\1\ A second, far more powerful 
bomb was found in a truck near a military hospital in the city, 
but was defused just 12 minutes before it was timed to explode, 
saving the city's center from being leveled.\2\ As the bombings 
occurred in an ethnically diverse republic thousands of 
kilometers from Moscow, public outrage in the capital was 
limited. But five days after the bombing in Dagestan, a bomb 
struck an apartment building in Moscow, killing 100 and 
injuring nearly 700.\3\ The Moscow unit of the FSB revealed 
that evidence from the scene showed traces of TNT and a potent 
military explosive called hexogen (a substantial investigation 
of the crime scene was never carried out because the 
authorities razed the building just days after the blast and 
discarded its remnants at the municipal dump).\4\
    \1\ David Satter, The Less You Know, The Better You Sleep: Russia's 
Road to Terror and Dictatorship under Yeltsin and Putin,  Yale 
University Press, at 7 (2016); Scott Anderson, ``None Dare Call it a 
Conspiracy,'' GQ,  Mar. 30, 2017.
    \2\ Satter, The Less You Know, The Better You Sleep,  at 7.
    \3\ Ibid.
    \4\ Scott Anderson, ``None Dare Call it a Conspiracy,'' GQ,  Mar. 
30, 2017; Satter, The Less You Know, the Better You Sleep,  at 7.
    Just four days later, another bomb went off in Moscow at 5 
a.m., destroying a nine-story apartment building and killing 
124 sleeping residents.\5\ Later that morning, the speaker of 
Russia's lower house of parliament, the Duma, Gennady 
Seleznyov, announced that an apartment building had blown up in 
the city of Volgodonsk.\6\ But the bombing in Volgodonsk did 
not happen until three days after his announcement, when an 
apartment block was attacked in the city, again at 5 a.m., 
killing 18 people and injuring nearly 90.\7\ When a Duma member 
later asked Seleznyov on the Parliament floor to ``please 
explain, how come you told us on Monday about the blast that 
occurred on Thursday?'' his microphone was cut off and the Duma 
voted to revoke his speaking privileges for one month.\8\
    \5\ Satter, The Less You Know, The Better You Sleep,  at 7.
    \6\ Ibid.
    \7\ Ibid.
    \8\ Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Remarks before the Russian Duma, Sept. 
17, 1999, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lf9r3DEY5UA (translated from 
Russian). Some observers suggest that someone in the chain of command 
of the FSB botched the planned sequence of the bombings and gave the 
news to Seleznyov in the wrong order. Mikhail Trepashkin, a former FSB 
agent and lawyer who investigated the bombings, claims that Seleznyov 
was given an erroneous report by an FSB officer. Scott Anderson, ``None 
Dare Call it a Conspirary,'' GQ,  Mar. 30, 2017.
    Terrified residents began to spend the night outdoors 
rather than risk being blown up while sleeping in their 
apartments.\9\ Less than a week later, on September 22, a 
resident in the city of Ryazan, about 120 miles southeast of 
Moscow, called the police to report suspicious men going in and 
out of his apartment building. Police investigated and 
discovered what appeared to be a large bomb in the building's 
basement. The head of the local bomb squad disconnected a 
military-grade detonator and timer and analyzed the sacks of 
white powder they were connected to, which reportedly tested 
positive for hexogen.\10\
    \9\ Satter, The Less You Know, the Better You Sleep, at 8.
    \10\ Ibid. at 9-10.
    Two men matching the witnesses' descriptions were arrested; 
but both were found to be in possession of FSB identification, 
and the Moscow FSB ordered the Ryazan police to release 
them.\11\ At the Kremlin, FSB director Nikolai Patrushev (now 
head of Russia's influential Security Council) announced that 
the whole thing was a training exercise, that the sacks of 
white powder were in fact only sugar, and that while similar 
exercises had taken place in other cities around Russia, only 
the citizens of Ryazan had been vigilant enough to detect the 
sucrose threat.\12\
    \11\ Ibid. at 10.
    \12\ Amy Knight, ``Finally, We Know About the Moscow Bombings,'' 
The New York Review of Books,  Nov. 22, 2012.
    Putin blamed the bombings on Chechen terrorists and 
immediately ordered Russia's armed forces to retaliate.\13\ Yet 
while Russian authorities said that there was a ``Chechen 
trail'' leading to the bombings, no Chechen claimed 
responsibility.\14\ In response to questions from the U.S. 
Senate Foreign Relations Committee in February 2000, then 
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright wrote that ``We have not 
seen evidence that ties the bombings to Chechnya.'' \15\ A 
State Department cable from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow relays 
how a former member of Russia's intelligence services told a 
U.S. diplomat that the FSB ``does indeed have a specially 
trained team of men whose mission is to carry out this type of 
urban warfare,'' and that the actual story of what happened in 
Ryazan would never come out, because ``the truth would destroy 
the country.'' \16\ The report of the British government's 
public inquiry into the murder of former FSB agent Alexander 
Litvinenko refers to the theory in Litvinenko's book that ``the 
bombings had been the work of the FSB, designed to provide a 
justification for war in Chechnya and, ultimately, to boost Mr. 
Putin's political prospects.'' \17\ The inquiry's chairman, Sir 
Robert Owen, wrote that the book was ``the product of careful 
research'' and referred to the view that the book had 
``credibly investigated'' the issue and ``piled up the evidence 
pointing a very damaging finger at the FSB and its involvement 
in those explosions.'' \18\ In addition, U.S. Senators John 
McCain and Marco Rubio, who both serve on the Senate Select 
Committee on Intelligence, have gone on the record pointing to 
evidence that alleges the involvement of the Russian security 
services in the bombings, with Rubio referring to ``open source 
and other'' reporting.\19\ The CIA, however, has not released 
any of its potential records relating to the bombings, stating 
that to do so would reveal ``very specific aspects of the 
Agency's intelligence interest, or lack thereof, in the Russian 
bombings.'' \20\
    \13\ Scott Anderson, ``None Dare Call it a Conspiracy,'' GQ,  Mar. 
30, 2017.
    \14\ Satter, The Less You Know, the Better You Sleep,  at 2 (citing 
Ilyas Akhmadov & Miriam Lansky, The Chechen Struggle: Independence Won 
and Lost, Palgrave Macmillan at 162 (2010)).
    \15\ U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, 2000 Foreign 
Policy Overview and the President's Fiscal Year 2001 Foreign Affairs 
Budget Request (Feb. and Mar. 2000).
    \16\ U.S. Department of State Cable, Released via Freedom of 
Information Act to David Satter, Case No. F-2016-08858.
    \17\ United Kingdom House of Commons, The Litvinenko Inquiry: 
Report into the Death of Alexander Litvinenko,  at 57 (Jan. 2016).
    \18\ Ibid.
    \19\ Senator John McCain, Press Release, ``McCain Decries `New 
Authoritarianism in Russia,' '' Nov. 4, 2003. McCain said that ``there 
remain credible allegations that Russia's FSB had a hand in carrying 
out these attacks.'' Ibid. Senator Rubio said in January 2017 that 
``there's [an] incredible body of reporting, open source and other, 
that this was all--all those bombings were part of a black flag 
operation on the part of the FSB.'' Remarks of Marco Rubio, Nomination 
of Rex Tillerson to be Secretary of State, Hearing before the U.S. 
Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Jan. 11, 2017.
    \20\ David Satter, ``The Mystery of Russia's 1999 Apartment 
Bombings Lingers--the CIA Could Clear It Up,'' National Review,  Feb. 
2, 2017.
    Attempts to investigate the Ryazan incident and the 
bombings were stonewalled by Russian officials or stymied by 
opponents in the Duma. Due to uniform opposition from pro-Putin 
deputies, several efforts in the Duma to investigate the Ryazan 
incident failed.\21\ Instead, a group of deputies and civilian 
activists created a public commission to investigate, led by 
Sergei Kovalev, a Soviet-era dissident who served for a time as 
Yeltsin's human rights advisor (he resigned after accusing 
Yeltsin of abandoning democratic principles). \22\ In 2003, one 
of the Duma deputies and ``most active'' members on the 
commission, Sergei Yushkenov, was shot dead in front of his 
apartment building.\23\ Another member of the commission, Yuri 
Shchekochikhin, died from a mysterious illness three months 
later, likely from thallium poisoning, just before he was 
scheduled to fly to the United States to meet with 
investigators from the FBI. \24\ Others investigating the 
bombings, including former FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko and 
journalist Anna Politkovskaya, were also murdered.\25\
    \21\ Satter, The Less You Know, the Better You Sleep,  at 21, 25; 
``Duma Vote Kills Query on Ryazan,'' The Moscow Times, Apr. 4, 2000.
    \22\ Satter, The Less You Know, the Better You Sleep,  at 25; 
Sergei Kovalev, ``A Letter of Resignation,'' The New York Review of 
Books, Feb. 29, 1996.
    \23\ Satter, The Less You Know, the Better You Sleep,  at 25, 31, 
126-27; ``Russian MP's death sparks storm,'' BBC News,  Apr. 18, 2003. 
Russian authorities convicted Mikhail Kodanyov, the leader of a rival 
member of Yushkenov's Liberal Russia party, with ordering the 
assassination. Prosecutors argued that Kodanyov ordered the murder 
because he wanted to take control of Liberal Russia's finances. 
Kodanyov maintained his innocence throughout the trial. Carl Schrek, 
``4 Convicted for Yushenkov Murder,'' The Moscow Times,  Mar. 19, 2004.
    \24\ Satter, The Less You Know, the Better You Sleep,  at 31; 
Jullian, O'Halloran, ``Russia's Poisoning `Without a Poison,' '' BBC 
News,  Feb. 6, 2007.
``September 1999 Russian apartment bombings timeline,'' CBC,  Sept. 4, 
    \25\ Satter, The Less You Know, the Better You Sleep,  at 36, 121, 
127. After the 2003 trial, three years before she was assassinated, 
Politkovskaya said of the court proceedings that ``This investigation 
hasn't answered the main question: Who ordered the apartment blasts in 
Moscow and Volgodonsk. The accusations raised by some politicians that 
the FSB may have been behind the explosions have never been seriously 
considered by this investigation and have never been investigated at 
all. And it is quite clear that it will never happen. It remains up to 
independent journalists and a very small circle of independent 
politicians to continue to dig up this tragic riddle. The last 
politician in Russia who sincerely raised these hard questions was 
Sergei Yushenkov. But he was killed.'' David Holley, ``Separatists Tied 
to '99 Bombings,'' Los Angeles Times,  May 1, 2003.
    Russian authorities held two trials in relation to the 
bombings. The first trial started in May 2001, and accused five 
men from the Karachai-Cherkessian Republic (about 250 miles 
west of Chechnya) of preparing explosives and sending them to 
Moscow ``in bags similar to those used to carry sugar produced 
by a sugar refiner in Karachai-Cherkessian Republic.'' \26\ The 
trial was held 750 miles south of Moscow and closed to the 
public, including the press. The men were convicted of plotting 
terrorist attacks across Russia in 1999, but due to the lack of 
evidence, the trial investigators dropped the charges that the 
men were involved in the Moscow and Volgodonsk bombings.\27\
    \26\ ``Five Men Charged with Apartment Bombings in moscow,'' 
Strana.ru, May 11, 2001.
    \27\ Oksana Yablokova & Navi Abdullaev, ``Five Men Convicted for 
Terrorist Plots,'' The Moscow Times,  Nov. 15, 2001.
    The second trial, which occurred in 2003 and was also 
closed to the public, charged two other Karachai-Cherkessian 
men, one of whom said that it was the CIA, not the FSB, that 
was involved in the Volgodonsk bombing.\28\ While he admitted 
his involvement in the Volgodonsk bombing, he said that he was 
given heavy narcotics, and he has maintained that he was not 
involved with the two Moscow bombings.\29\
    \28\ ``Terrorist Adam Dekkushev Blames CIA for Preparations of 
Explosions in Volgodonsk,'' Kommersant,  Dec. 19, 2003 (translated from 
    \29\ Amy Knight, Orders to Kill: The Putin Regime and Political 
Murder, St. Martin's Press (2017); ``Terror Convict Asks Court to 
Reject $900,000 Claim,'' RIA Novosti,  Mar. 3, 2006.
    Two sisters who lost their mother in one of the Moscow 
bombings hired a lawyer and former FSB agent, Mikhail 
Trepashkin, to represent them at the second trial.\30\ 
Trepashkin was also an investigator on Kovalev's 
commission.\31\ According to the U.S. State Department, Russian 
authorities arrested Trepashkin one month after he published 
claims that the FSB was involved in the bombings and just one 
week before he was scheduled to represent the sisters in court 
and present related evidence. He was convicted of disclosing 
state secrets (Trepashkin maintains that FSB agents planted 
classified documents in his home during a search) and sentenced 
to four years in prison.\32\ With two members of the public 
commission dead, others threatened, and Trepashkin imprisoned 
and his life possibly at risk, its investigation stalled.
    \30\ Satter, The Less You Know, the Better You Sleep,  at 29-30.
    \31\ Ibid.
    \32\ U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, 
and Labor, 2007 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Russia (Mar. 
2008). While imprisoned, Trepashkin complained of improper medical care 
for severe asthma, which resulted in his transfer to a harsher general 
prison regime. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2007 that 
the Russian government violated the European Convention on Human Rights 
due to his poor prison conditions. Ibid. As of September 2017, 
Trepashkin was representing plaintiffs demanding compensation from the 
Russian government for its use of disproportionate force in ending the 
Beslan siege in 2004. ``Beslan siege: Russia `Will Comply' with 
Critical Ruling,'' BBC, Sept. 20, 2017; Scott Anderson, ``None Dare 
Call it a Conspiracy,'' GQ,  Mar. 30, 2017.
    The Russian public continued to push for investigations and 
in 2009, a few dozen protestors held a demonstration demanding 
a new investigation into the bombings. During the protests 
against Putin in 2011 and 2012, some demonstrators carried 
signs referencing the attacks.\33\ A public opinion poll 
conducted in September 2013 found that only 31 percent of 
Russians thought that any involvement of the special services 
in the explosions should be excluded.\34\ Another poll 
conducted in 2015 found that only about 6 percent of Russians 
had clarity about who was behind the 1999 bombings.\35\ To this 
day, no credible source has ever claimed credit for the 
bombings and no credible evidence has been presented by the 
Russian authorities linking Chechen terrorists, or anyone else, 
to the Moscow bombings. As the public polling results show, 
there is still considerable doubt among the Russian public 
about who was responsible for the 1999 apartment building 
bombings, suggesting that further investigation into the matter 
is still required.
    \33\ ``Russian Protesters Demand Investigation of 1999 Apartment 
Bombings,'' Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty,  Sept. 10, 2009; 
Satter, The Less You Know, the Better You Sleep,  at 38.
    \34\ Press Release, Levada Center, ``Russians About Terrorist 
Attacks,'' Sept. 30, 2013, https://www.levada.ru/2013/09/30/
rossiyane_o_teraktah/ (translated from Russian).
    \35\ Press Release, Levada Center, ``The Tragedy in Beslan and the 
Apartment Bombings in Autumn 1999,'' Sept. 4, 2015 (translated from 


              Appendix B: Alleged Political Assassinations


    More than two dozen politicians, journalists, activists, 
and other critics of Mr. Putin's regime have died under 
mysterious or suspicious circumstances in Russia during his 
time in power.\1\ A number of individuals, including vocal 
Putin critics, investigative journalists, and others in the 
Kremlin's crosshairs, have died beyond Russia's borders, often 
under similar mysterious circumstances. Many observers suspect 
that these deaths were at the hands or direction of the Russian 
security services. Such actions are officially allowed under a 
Russian law passed by the Duma in July 2006 that permits the 
assassination of ``enemies of the Russian regime'' who live 
    \1\ Oren Dorell, ``Mysterious Rash on Russian Deaths Casts 
Suspicion on Vladimir Putin,'' USA Today, May 4, 2017; Committee to 
Protect Journalists, ``58 Journalists Killed in Russia/Motive 
Confirmed,'' https://cpj.org/killed/europe/russia/ (visited Dec. 5, 
    \2\ Terrence McCoy, ``With His Dying Words, Poisoned Spy Alexander 
Litvinenko Named Putin as His Killer,'' The Washington Post,  Jan. 28, 
2015; Steven Eke, ``Russia Law on Killing `Extremists' Abroad,'' BBC 
News,  Nov. 27, 2006.
    The most infamous case in recent memory was that of 
Alexander Litvinenko, a career FSB officer. In the early 1990s, 
he investigated the Tambov group, an Uzbek criminal 
organization based in St. Petersburg that he found was 
smuggling heroin from Afghanistan to Western Europe via 
Uzbekistan and St. Petersburg. His investigation led him to 
believe that there was ``widespread collusion between the 
Tambov group and KGB officials, including both Vladimir Putin 
and Nikolai Patrushev.'' \3\ He was also allegedly ordered to 
kill Mikhail Trepashkin (see Appendix A) after the recently 
resigned FSB investigator brought a lawsuit against the FSB's 
leadership and filed complaints that went all the way up to the 
director, Vladimir Putin. Litvinenko refused to carry out the 
order, became disenchanted with his assignment on a hit team, 
and held a press conference with four other colleagues, as well 
as Mr. Trepashkin, where they exposed the assassination plots 
they had been ordered to carry out.\4\ After the press 
conference, Litvinenko was fired from the FSB (Putin was then 
still FSB director), and he fled to the UK, where he was 
granted asylum and, eventually, British citizenship.\5\ He 
began to investigate the 1999 apartment building bombings and 
wrote a book, Blowing up Russia: Terror from Within, which 
accused the FSB of being behind the attacks on the apartment 
    \3\ United Kingdom House of Commons, The Litvinenko Inquiry: Report 
into the Death of Alexander Litvinenko,  at 15 (Jan. 2016).
    \4\ Ibid. at 21.
    \5\ ``Alexander Livtvinenko: Profile of Murdered Russian Spy,'' BBC 
News,  Jan. 21, 2016; Griff Witte & Michael Birnbaum, ``Putin 
Implicated in Fatal Poisoning of Former KGB Officer at London Hotel,'' 
The Washington Post,  Jan. 21, 2016.
    \6\ Ibid.; see Appendix A.
    In November 2006, while reportedly investigating the death 
of Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya as well 
as Spanish links to the Russian mafia, Litvinenko met two 
former FSB colleagues, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitri Kovtun, for 
tea in London. Later that day he fell ill, his organs began to 
fail, and he died within a few weeks, killed by a rare 
radioactive isotope: Polonium-210.\7\ An investigation by the 
British authorities found that Lugovoi and Kovtun had poisoned 
Litvinenko. However, the Russian government refused to 
extradite Lugovoi, which led to a deterioration in bilateral 
relations, with the UK cutting off links to the Russian 
security services and diplomatic personnel being expelled by 
both sides (Putin would later award a state medal to Lugovoi, 
who is now a member of the Russian Duma).\8\ That deterioration 
of relations made the British government reluctant to accede to 
the coroner's request for a public inquiry into Litvinenko's 
death.\9\ In 2015, however, the British government began a 
public inquiry, which one year later concluded that ``the FSB 
operation to kill Mr. Litvinenko was probably approved by [then 
FSB director] Mr. Patrushev and also by President Putin.'' \10\
    \7\ Ibid. A British physicist who testified at the public inquiry 
into Litvinenko's death said that the polonium's poisonous effects 
would have to have been tested in advance to know the proper dosage to 
kill. He noted two unexplained deaths in Russia that occurred before 
Litvinenko's and with similar symptoms: the Chechen warlord Lecha 
Islamov and the one-time Putin associate Roman Tsepov, who both died in 
2004. ``Plutonium that killed Alexander Litvinenko Came from Russian 
Plant, UK Court Told,'' Financial Times,  Mar. 11, 2015.
    \8\ ``Alexander Litvinenko: Profile of Murdered Russian Spy,'' BBC, 
Jan. 21, 2016; ``Russia's Putin Honors Suspect in Litvinenko 
Poisoning,'' Reuters,  Mar. 9, 2015.
    \9\ Michael Holden, ``Britain Says Ties with Russia Played Part in 
Litvinenko Ruling,'' Reuters,  Jul. 19, 2013.
    \10\ United Kingdom House of Commons, The Litvinenko Inquiry,  at 
    In the decade between Litvinenko's death and the publishing 
of the results of the public inquiry, a number of potential 
``enemies of the Russian regime'' died in Britain under 
mysterious circumstances. With decades of practice and the 
investment of considerable state resources, the Russian 
security services have reportedly developed techniques that a 
former Scotland Yard counterterrorism official characterized as 
``disguising murder'' by staging suicides and using chemical 
and biological agents that leave no trace.\11\ A former KGB 
lieutenant colonel told The New York Times that ``The 
government is using the special services to liquidate its 
enemies. It was not just Litvinenko, but many others we don't 
know about, classified as accidents or maybe semi-accidents.'' 
    \11\ Heidi Blake et al., ``From Russia with Blood,'' BuzzFeed News, 
June 15, 2017.
    \12\ Andrew Kramer, ``More of Kremlin's Opponents Are Ending Up 
Dead,'' The New York Times,  Aug. 20, 2016.
    One possible target was Alexander Perepilichnyy, a Russian 
financier who had reportedly helped Russian authorities engage 
in a $230 million tax fraud scheme that was exposed by Sergei 
Magnitsky, a Moscow lawyer for the British hedge fund Hermitage 
Capital Management.\13\ After Magnitsky exposed the extent of 
the tax fraud--the largest in Russian history--he was arrested 
and charged with the crime himself, then tortured and killed in 
prison by his captors. Magnitsky's death reportedly led 
Perepilichnyy to turn against his bosses and cooperate with 
investigations--he fled to Britain and turned over evidence to 
Swiss prosecutors.\14\ In 2012, on the same day he returned 
from a short trip to Paris, he collapsed while jogging and died 
from what police said was a heart attack.\15\ Perepilichnyy's 
death occurred shortly before he was apparently due to provide 
additional evidence to Swiss authorities in a ``confrontation'' 
setting with Vladlen Stepanov, the husband of a senior tax 
official who was a key player in the tax fraud that Magnitsky 
had uncovered.\16\ Because Perepilichnyy had received numerous 
threats, shortly before his death he had applied for several 
life insurance policies that required medical checks, the 
results of which gave him a clean bill of health and did not 
reveal any heart problems. After his death, one of the 
insurance companies ordered a new round of tests on his body 
and an expert in plant toxicology subsequently found that his 
stomach had traces of gelsemium, a rare Chinese flowering plant 
that, when ingested, triggers cardiac arrest. It is also ``a 
known weapon of assassination by Chinese and Russian contract 
killers,'' according to a lawyer for the insurance company.\17\
    \13\ Alan Cowell, ``Another Russian Emigre Dies Mysteriously, But 
It's a Different Britain,'' The New York Times,  Sept. 16, 2016; 
``Alexander Perepilichnyy Death: Russian May Have Talked to UK Spies,'' 
BBC News,  Jan. 13, 2016; The founder of Hermitage Capital Management, 
Bill Browder, alleges that $30 million of the $230 million stolen in 
the tax fraud flowed into Britain. U.S. government investigators traced 
over $7.5 million of the stolen funds to a British bank account tied to 
a Moscow-based investment. ``U.S. Traces US $7.5 Million from Russian 
Fraud Scheme Uncovered by Magnitsky,'' Organized Crime and Corruption 
Reporting Project, Apr. 17, 2017, https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/6342-
magnitsky; Neil Buckley, ``Magnitsky Fraud Cash Laundered Through 
Britain, MPs Hear,'' Financial Times,  May 3, 2016.
    \14\ Mike Eckel, ``U.S. Settles Magnitsky-Linked Money Laundering 
Case on Eve of Trial,'' Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty,  May 13, 2017; 
Jeffrey Stern, ``An Enemy of the Kremlin Dies in London: Who Killed 
Alexander Perepilichny?'' The Atlantic,  Jan./Feb., 2017.
    \15\ Alan Cowell, ``Another Russian Emigre Dies Mysteriously, but 
it's a Different Britain,'' The New York Times,  Sept. 16, 2016; 
``Alexander Perepilichny Death: Russian May Have Talked to UK Spies,'' 
BBC News, Jan. 13, 2016.
    \16\ See United Kingdom Courts and Tribunal Judiciary, Inquest Into 
the Death of Alexander Perepilichny, Day 4 (Questioning of Russ 
Whitworth, Legal and General), June 8, 2017.
    \17\ Jeffrey Stern, ``An Enemy of the Kremlin Dies in London,'' The 
Atlantic,  Jan./Feb. 2017.
    A high-profile Russian also died under mysterious 
circumstances in Washington, D.C. in 2015. Mikhail Lesin, 
founder of the Russian state-owned television network RT and 
formerly a close adviser to Putin, was found dead in his hotel 
room in Dupont Circle with ``blunt force injuries of the head, 
neck, torso, upper extremities, and lower extremities.'' \18\ A 
nearly year-long investigation by D.C. police, the U.S. 
Attorney's Office for D.C., and the FBI concluded that ``Lesin 
entered his hotel room on the morning of Wednesday, Nov. 4th, 
2015, after days of excessive consumption of alcohol and 
sustained the injuries that resulted in his death while alone 
in his hotel room.'' \19\ Lesin died the day before he was 
reportedly going to meet with officials from the U.S. 
Department of Justice about RT's operations.\20\
    \18\ District of Columbia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, 
``Joint Statement from the District of Columbia's Office of the Chief 
Medical Examiner and the Metropolitan Police Department,'' Mar. 10, 
2016. The manner of death was undetermined.
    \19\ U.S. Department of Justice, ``Investigation into the Death of 
Mikhail Lesin Has Closed,'' Oct. 28, 2016. According to the D.C. police 
report of the incident, on November 4, a hotel security guard checked 
in on a `'stumbling drunk'' Lesin in his room at 2:23 p.m. and asked 
him if he needed medical help, to which Lesin responded ``nyet.'' At 
8:16 p.m., another guard found Lesin face down on the floor of his 
hotel room, breathing but unresponsive. The next day, at 11:30 a.m., a 
security guard went to Lesin's room to remind him to check out and 
found him still face down on the floor. The guard called 911 and Lesin 
was pronounced dead at the scene. Peter Hermann, ``Police Report on 
2015 Death of Russian Political Aide Details Days of Drinking,'' The 
Washington Post,  Dec. 4, 2017.
    \20\ Jason Leopold et al., ``Everyone Thinks He Was Whacked,'' 
BuzzFeed News, Jul. 28, 2017. In recent years, members of Congress had 
called for Lesin to be investigated for money laundering and sanctioned 
for human rights abuses. In July 2014, Senator Roger Wicker asked the 
Department of Justice to look into whether Lesin had violated the 
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and anti-money laundering statutes, 
citing Lesin's acquisition of a luxury real estate empire throughout 
Europe and the United States, including over $28 million in southern 
California alone. Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and James 
McGovern wrote to President Obama in March 2014 requesting that Lesin 
be sanctioned under the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act 
for having ``personally threatened the then-owner of NTV television, 
Vladimir Gunsinky, while Gusinky was being held at the Butyrskaya 
Prison in Moscow, demanding that he transfer control of his media 
outlets (which had been critical of the government) to the state-owned 
company Gazprom in return for dropping the charges.'' Under the terms 
reportedly proposed by Lesin, Gusinky was offered the option of selling 
NTV to Gazprom for $300 million (far below its value) and a debt write-
off, or sharing ``a cell with prisoners infected with AIDS and TB.'' 
Letter from Senator Roger Wicker, to Attorney General Eric Holder, Jul. 
29, 2014; Letter from Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen to President Obama, 
Mar. 14, 2014; Arkady Ostrovsky, The Invention of Russia: The Journey 
from Gorbachev's Freedom to Putin's War, Atlantic Books, at 275 (2015).
    Some U.S. national security officials are now reportedly 
concerned that Russia's security services will start ``doing 
here what they do with some regularity in London.'' \21\ The 
warning echoes a much earlier one, given in 2004 after two 
Russian agents killed a former president of Chechnya in Qatar, 
using explosives smuggled in a diplomatic pouch. In a telephone 
interview with The New York Times, a Chechen separatist leader 
said the killing `'showed that Russia under Mr. Putin had 
reverted to the darkest tactics of its Soviet past'' and that 
``if the international community does not give proper attention 
to what happened in Qatar,'' he said, ``I am absolutely sure 
that these methods may be tried again in other countries, 
including Western countries.'' \22\ It is not inconceivable 
that the Kremlin could use its security services in the United 
States as it has elsewhere. The trail of mysterious deaths, all 
of which happened to people who possessed information that the 
Kremlin did not want made public, should not be ignored by 
Western countries on the assumption that they are safe from 
these extreme measures.
    \21\ Jason Leopold et al., ``Everyone Thinks He Was Whacked,'' 
BuzzFeed News, Jul. 28, 2017.
    \22\ Steven Myers, ``Qatar Court Convicts 2 Russians in Top 
Chechen's Death,'' The New York Times, Jul. 1, 2004.


                   Appendix C: Russian Government's 
                        Olympic Cheating Scheme


    At two World Championships, in 2011 and 2013, and at the 
Olympics in 2012, Russian athlete Maria Savinova beat American 
sprinter Alysia Montano for a spot on the medal stand.\1\ 
However, investigations now show that Savinova's performance 
had been enhanced by a doping program directed by the Russian 
government. Other American athletes were also cheated, like 
Chaunte Lowe, who competed in the 2008 Olympic high jump, and 
moved from sixth place to third when, in 2016, the top three 
finishers--two Russians and one Ukrainian--were disqualified, 
eight years after they had stood on the podium and accepted 
their medals. Montano and Lowe are just two of many American 
athletes who the Russian state has cheated out of Olympic 
glory. Ms. Lowe believes she was robbed not just of the glory 
of the medal stand, but of the financial opportunity it would 
have brought: companies, looking to sponsor her, lost interest 
after she failed to medal, and, after her husband was laid off 
from his job in 2008, they lost their house to foreclosure.\2\
    \1\ Chris Perez, ``US Olympian Wants Medal She Had Stolen by 
Russian Dopers,'' New York Post,  Nov. 9, 2015.
    \2\ Rebecca Ruiz, ``Olympics History Rewritten: New Doping Tests 
Topple the Podium,'' The New York Times, Nov. 21, 2016.
    In 2014, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), an 
independent international agency that sets anti-doping 
standards, launched an investigation into Russian doping after 
a German TV station aired a documentary titled ``The Secrets of 
Doping: How Russia Makes its Winners.'' The documentary 
``alleged doping practices; corrupt practices around sample 
collection and results management; and other ineffective 
administration of anti-doping processes that implicate Russia, 
. . . the accredited laboratory based in Moscow and the Russian 
Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA).'' \3\ The WADA report, released in 
November 2015, mentions secret recordings of Savinova which 
`'show that [she] has an in-depth knowledge of doping regimes, 
dosages, physiological effects of doping and new [performance-
enhancing drugs].'' \4\ The report recommended a lifetime ban 
for Savinova and detailed the role of the FSB in the doping 
operation: it had set up extensive surveillance in Russia's 
main anti-doping laboratory in Moscow and had a significant 
presence at the testing laboratory in the Russian city of 
Sochi.\5\ As one laboratory worker told WADA investigators, 
``[in Sochi] we had some guys pretending to be engineers in the 
lab but actually they were from the federal security service.'' 
    \3\ World Anti-Doping Agency, The Independent Commission Report #1 
(Nov. 9, 2015).
    \4\ Ibid. at 262.
    \5\ Ibid.
    \6\ Ibid.
    After a disappointing performance by Russian athletes at 
the 2010 Winter Olympics, and having spent over $50 billion on 
infrastructure for the 2014 games in Sochi (with up to $30 
billion of that allegedly stolen by businessmen and officials 
close to Putin, according to a report authored by murdered 
opposition leader Boris Nemtsov), Putin needed good results to 
prove to the Russian people that they needed his `'strong hand 
at the helm.'' \7\ For the Olympic Games in Sochi, therefore, 
it was not enough for the Russian athletes to have been doping 
in the months leading up to the competition--they would also 
take performance-enhancing drugs during the games.
    \7\ Alissa de Carbonnel, ``Billions Stolen in Sochi Olympics 
Preparations--Russian opposition,'' Reuters,  May 30, 2013; Bo 
Petersson & Karina Vamling, The Sochi Predicament: Contexts, 
Characteristics, and Challenges of the Olympic Winter Games in 2014,  
Cambridge Scholars Publishing, at 22 (2013).
    At the testing lab in Sochi, photographs show how the FSB 
drilled a hole through the wall of the official urine sample 
collection room and concealed it behind a faux-wood cabinet. 
The hole led to a storage space that Russian anti-doping 
officials had converted into a hidden laboratory. From there, 
the urine samples were passed to an FSB officer, who took them 
to a nearby building, where he unsealed the supposedly tamper-
proof bottles and returned them with the caps loosened. The 
bottles were then emptied and filled with clean urine that had 
been collected from the athletes before the Olympics. Up to 100 
urine samples of Russian athletes were removed in this way, 
allowing them to continue to use performance-enhancing drugs 
throughout the 2014 Winter Olympics. Of the 33 medals Russia 
won during the 2014 Olympics, 11 were awarded to athletes whose 
names appear on a spreadsheet detailing the Russian 
government's doping operation.\8\
    \8\ Rebecca Ruiz et al., ``Russian Doctor Explains How He Helped 
Beat Doping Tests at the Sochi Olympics,'' The New York Times, May 13, 
    In December 2016, WADA released a second independent report 
that found that ``[a]n institutional conspiracy existed across 
summer and winter sports athletes who participated with Russian 
officials within the Ministry of Sport and its infrastructure . 
. . along with the FSB for the purposes of manipulating doping 
controls. The summer and winter sports athletes were not acting 
individually but within an organised infrastructure.'' Over 
1,000 Russian athletes competing in the Olympics and 
Paralympics had been involved in the conspiracy.\9\ In an 
interview for the 2016 documentary Icarus, the former head of 
Russia's anti-doping laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov, estimated 
that of the 154 Russian medalists in the 2008 and 2012 
Olympics, at least 70 cheated with performance enhancing drugs. 
He confirmed that Russia had ``a state-wide systematic doping 
system in place to cheat the Olympics'' and that Putin was 
aware of the program.\10\ In remarks that were later retracted 
by the Russian government, the acting head of Russia's anti-
doping agency admitted in 2016 that doping among Russian 
athletes was ``an institutional conspiracy.'' \11\ Despite the 
tremendous amount of forensic evidence proving the conclusions 
of the WADA investigations, as well as the resulting decision 
by the IOC to ban Russia's official participation in the 2018 
Winter Olympics, Putin has steadfastly denied the existence of 
a state-sanctioned doping system.\12\
    \9\ Professor Richard H. McLaren, The Independent Person 2nd 
Report, at 1, 5. (Dec. 2016).
    \10\ Icarus,  Bryan Fogel, Director (2017).
    \11\ Rebecca Ruiz, ``Russians No Longer Dispute Olympic Doping 
Operation,'' The New York Times, Dec. 27, 2016.
    \12\ Marissa Payne, ``Vladimir Putin Says `Current Russian Anti-
Doping System Has Failed,' '' The Washington Post,  Mar. 1, 2017.
    The scale of Russia's cheating in the 2014 Winter Olympics 
led 17 of the world's leading anti-doping agencies to request 
that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ban Russia from 
the 2018 Winter Olympics, noting that ``a country's sport 
leaders and organizations should not be given credentials to 
the Olympics when they intentionally violate the rules and rob 
clean athletes.'' \13\ In December 2017, Russia became ``the 
first country in sporting history to be banned from sending 
athletes to an Olympic games for doping,'' when the IOC 
declared that athletes could not compete under the Russian 
flag, Russian officials could not attend the games, and 
Russia's uniform, flag, and anthem also could not appear 
anywhere at the 2018 games.\14\ In response, Putin implied the 
ban was tied to his still-unannounced reelection campaign, 
saying ``When will the Olympics take place? February, isn't it? 
And when is the presidential election? March. I suspect that 
all of this is done to create conditions on someone's behalf to 
provoke sport fans' and athletes' anger that the state 
allegedly had something to do with it.'' \15\
    \13\ 13 Sean Ingle, ``Anti-Doping Agencies Call on IOC to Ban 
Russia from 2018 Winter Olympics,'' The Guardian,  Sept. 14, 2017.
    \14\ Murad Ahmed and Max Seddon, ``Russia Banned from Winter 
Olympics,'' Financial Times,  Dec. 5, 2017; Press Release, 
International Olympic Committee, IOC Suspends Rusian NOC and Creates a 
Path for Clean Individual Athletes to Compete in Pyeongchang 2018 Under 
the Olympic Flag, Dec. 5. 2017.
    \15\ Neil MacFarquhar, ``Russia Won't Keep Athletes Home, Putin 
Says After Olympic Ban,'' The New York Times, Dec. 6, 2017.
    The Kremlin may have also ordered retribution against WADA 
and U.S. athletes, among others. Approximately ten months after 
the release of the first report, a group of hackers associated 
with Russia's military intelligence, commonly known as Fancy 
Bear or APT28, broke into WADA's databases.\16\ The hackers 
released medical information about several U.S. athletes, 
including gymnast Simone Biles and tennis players Venus and 
Serena Williams.\17\ Shortly thereafter, the same group of 
hackers stole emails from WADA officials and released selected 
conversations about Americans and other athletes.\18\ In April 
2017, Fancy Bear hackers reportedly breached the International 
Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), which had voted to 
ban Russia from all international track and field events.\19\
    \16\ Andy Greenberg, ``Russian Hackers Get Bolder in Anti-Doping 
Agency Attack,'' Wired,  Sept. 14, 2016. Fancy Bear/APT28 were also 
behind hacks that targeted the Democratic National Committee and the 
Clinton campaign in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Ibid.
    \17\ Ibid.
    \18\ Sean Ingle, ``Fancy Bears Hack Again With Attack on Senior 
Anti-Doping Officials,'' The Guardian,  Nov. 25, 2016.
    \19\ Thomas Fox-Brewster, ``Russia's Fancy Bear Hackers are 
Stealing Athlete Drug Data Again,'' Forbes, Apr. 3, 2017.
    After blowing the whistle on the scope of the Russian 
doping program, the former head of Russia's anti-doping lab, 
Dr. Rodchenkov now appears to be a Kremlin target. Rodchenkov 
fled to the United States after resigning from his post in the 
wake of the second WADA report, where he is reportedly 
cooperating with federal investigators and the IOC. His 
whereabouts in the United States are unknown and the Russian 
government has announced that he will be arrested if he ever 
returns to Russia.\20\ Rodchenkov's application for asylum in 
the United States is now complicated by the fact that Russian 
authorities charged him with drug trafficking (drug traffickers 
are not eligible for political asylum under U.S. law).\21\ The 
charge and accompanying arrest warrant were announced on the 
same day that Rodchenkov had an asylum interview with U.S. 
immigration officials, leading his lawyer, a former federal 
prosecutor, to believe that Russian law enforcement authorities 
may have been tipped off, stating ``that is a coincidence too 
remarkable to believe. It seems fairly clear they were trying 
to influence the immigration process.'' \22\
    \20\  Oleg Matsnev, ``Russian Court Order Arrest of Doping Whistle-
Blower Who Fled,'' The New York Times, Sept. 28, 2017.
    \21\ ``WADA Informant Rodchenkov Faces Drug Trafficking Charges in 
Russia,'' RT,  Dec. 12, 2017.
    \22\ Michael Isikoff, ``As Putin Seethes Over Olympic Ban, Doping 
Whistleblower Fears For His Life,'' Yahoo News,  Dec. 26, 2017.
    Putin has asserted, on live television, that Rodchenkov is 
``under the control of American special services'' and asked 
``what are they doing with him there? Are they giving him some 
kind of substances so that he says what's required?'' \23\ 
According to the Icarus documentary and statements by 
Rodchenkov's lawyer, U.S. officials reportedly believe that 
Russian agents in the United States may be looking for 
Rodchenkov, and that ``there may be a credible threat to his 
life.'' \24\ Before he fled, Rodchenkov said that friends 
inside the Russian government warned him that the Kremlin was 
planning his `'suicide.'' \25\ Rodchenkov's lawyer believes 
that Russian officials are seeking to prevent him from 
providing further evidence and testimony regarding Russia's 
Olympic cheating, and asserts that Russian authorities ``are 
lobbying U.S. government officials behind closed doors for his 
extradition back to Russia'' and ``if they succeeded, Dr. 
Rodchenkov would face death and torture at their hands.'' \26\
    \23\ Des Bieler, ``Vladimir Putin Suggests U.S. is Manipulating Key 
Whistleblower on Russian Doping,'' The Washington Post,  Dec. 14, 2017.
    \24\ Icarus,  Bryan Fogel, Director (2017); Michael Isikoff, ``As 
Putin seethes over Olympic ban, doping whistleblower fears for his 
life,'' Yahoo News,  Dec. 26, 2017.
    \25\ Grigory Rodchenkov, ``Russia's Olympic Cheating, Unpunished,'' 
The New York Times, Sept. 22, 2017.
    \26\ Statement by Jim Walden, ``Stop Russia's Retaliation Toward a 
Whistle-blower,'' Walden Macht & Haran LLP,  Dec. 26, 2017, available 
at https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1GdkmE4Uwjyt--75BrHodpOTN6-
    Other Russian officials involved in the doping scandal did 
not live long enough to tell their role in it. One former head 
of RUSADA, Nikita Kamaev, was fired from his post in the 
aftermath of the first WADA report. Around that time, Kamaev 
approached a newspaper with an offer to ``write a book about 
the true story of sport pharmacology and doping in Russia since 
1987 while being a young scientist working in a secret lab in 
the USSR Institute of Sports Medicine,'' saying that he had 
``the information and facts that have never been published.'' 
\27\ Such a book might have invalidated hundreds of Olympic 
medals won by Russian athletes over decades if it could prove 
their participation in a state-sponsored doping program. Just a 
couple of months later, Kamaev was found dead from ``a massive 
heart attack,'' even though colleagues said he had seemed 
healthy and never complained about his heart.\28\ A few weeks 
earlier, the founding chairman of RUSADA, Vyacheslav Sinev, 
also died unexpectedly of ``unknown causes.'' \29\ The current 
head of RUSADA, Yuri Ganus, has expressed doubts that both men 
died of natural causes, saying, ``it's clear that two people 
could not just die like this . . .  . I understand that there 
was a situation, and the entire anti-doping organization was 
disqualified, and in this regard, this is an extraordinary 
fact.'' \30\ While Kamaev was fired by Putin and lost his life 
shortly thereafter, his superior, Vitaly Mutko, the Minister of 
Sport who oversaw the entire doping conspiracy, was promoted to 
Deputy Prime Minister.\31\
    \27\ ``Late Russian Anti-Doping Agency Boss Was Set to Expose True 
Story,'' Reuters,  Feb. 20, 2017.
    \28\ ``Russia Anti-Doping Ex-Chief Nikita Kamaev Dies,'' BBC News, 
Feb. 15, 2016.
    \29\ Andrew Kramer, ``Nikita Kamayev, Ex-Head of Russian Antidoping 
Agency, Dies,'' The New York Times, Feb. 15, 2016; Michael Isikoff, 
``As Putin Seethes Over Olympic Ban, Doping Whistleblower Fears For His 
Life,'' Yahoo News,  Dec. 26, 2017.
    \30\ ``Members of the RUSADA Leadership Died `Not Just So,' '' 
Pravada,  Sept. 20, 2017 (translated from Russian).
    \31\ Rebecca Ruiz, ``Russia Sports Minister Promoted to Deputy 
Prime Minister,'' The New York Times, Oct. 19, 2016.


                     Appendix D: Russia's Security 
                       Services and Cyber Hackers


    Russia's security services have worked with and provided 
protection to criminal hackers for decades, and, according to 
some experts, those same hackers are now responsible for nearly 
all of the theft of credit card information from U.S. 
consumers.\1\ Despite a wealth of evidence, Putin has long 
denied any connection between Russia's security services and 
cyberattacks on foreign institutions, including the retaliatory 
hacks of WADA and the IAAF mentioned in Appendix C, which 
cybersecurity experts traced to hackers sponsored by the 
Russian government.\2\ Various investigations have uncovered 
extensive proof that Russia's security services ``maintain a 
sophisticated alliance with unofficial hackers,'' who are often 
offered a choice when facing charges for cybercrimes: go to 
prison, or work for the FSB.\3\ Some scholars also believe that 
groups of unofficial, ``patriotic hackers'' are guided not by 
the security services, but by the Presidential Administration 
    \1\ Interview with Cybersecurity Expert, Sept. 2017; Kara Flook, 
``Russia and the Cyber Threat,'' Critical Threats,  May 13, 2009, 
ftnref18. In 2016, more than 15 million U.S. consumers lost more than 
$16 billion due to identity theft or credit card fraud. Al Pascual et 
al., ``2017 Identity Fraud: Securing the Connected Life,'' Javelin,  
Feb. 1, 2017.
    \2\ ``APT28: At the Center of the Storm,'' FireEye, Jan. 11, 2017, 
center.html; ``Fancy Bears: IAAF hacked and fears athletes' information 
compromised,'' BBC,  Apr. 3, 2017.
    \3\ Andrei Soldatov & Irina Borogan, The New Nobility: The 
Restoration of Russia's Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the 
KGB, PublicAffairs, at 227 (2010); ``APT28: At the Center of the 
Storm,'' FireEye, Jan. 11, 2017. https://www.fireeye.com/blog/threat-
research/2017/01/apt28--at--the--center.html; Kara Flook, ``Russia and 
the Cyber Threat,'' Critical Threats,  May 13, 2009.
    \4\ Andrei Soldatov & Irina Borogan, The New Nobility: The 
Restoration of Russia's Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the 
KGB,  PublicAffairs, at 223 (2010).
    One of Russia's oldest and most sophisticated cybercrime 
groups is known as the Russian Business Network (RBN). Before 
it went underground in 2007, RBN was a global hub that provided 
Internet services and was ``linked to 60 percent of all 
cybercrime.'' \5\ RBN is still involved in the full gamut of 
cybercrimes, including extortion, credit card theft, drug 
sales, weapons smuggling, human trafficking, prostitution, and 
child pornography.\6\ Verisign, a major internet security 
company, has referred to the RBN as ``the baddest of the bad,'' 
and many researchers describe RBN ``as having the best malware, 
the best organization.'' \7\ RBN is also rumored to have 
connections to powerful politicians in St. Petersburg and 
possibly now Moscow. In addition, one of its members is 
reportedly a former lieutenant colonel in the FSB.\8\
    \5\ Kara Flook, ``Russia and the Cyber Threat,'' Critical Threats,  
May 13, 2009.
    \6\ Interview with Cybersecurity Expert, Sept. 2017.
    \7\ ``A Walk on the Dark Side,'' The Economist,  Aug. 30, 2007; 
Richard Stiennon, ``Is Russia Poised to Retaliate Against Sanctions 
With Cyber Attacks?'' Security Current,  Aug. 7, 2014, https://
    \8\ Kara Flook, ``Russia and the Cyber Threat,'' Critical Threats,  
May 13, 2009. https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/russia-and-the-
    Cybersecurity experts have blamed Putin's government and 
the FSB for giving protection to the RBN,\9\ who, according to 
Verisign, ``feel they are strongly politically protected. They 
pay a huge amount of people.'' \10\ Some analysts assert that 
the FSB's protection comes with a quid pro quo--when tasked, 
the RBN is expected to carry out the FSB's orders. In 2014, as 
the United States was considering sanctions against the Russian 
government for its illegal annexation of Crimea, one expert's 
sources told him there were indications that ``the Kremlin will 
unleash the RBN if [U.S.] sanctions pass a certain threshold.'' 
    \9\ Brian Krebs, ``Wishing an (Un)Happy Birthday to the Storm 
Worm,'' The Washington Post,  Jan. 17, 2008.
    \10\ ``A Walk on the Dark Side,'' The Economist,  Aug. 30, 2007.
    \11\ Richard Stiennon, ``Is Russia Poised to Retaliate Against 
Sanctions With Cyber Attacks?'' Security Current,  Aug. 7, 2014.
    According to the U.S. Department of Justice, FSB officials 
and hackers worked together to steal data from approximately 
500 million Yahoo accounts--a cybercrime that cost the American 
company hundreds of millions of dollars.\12\ Instead of working 
with U.S. officials to target the hackers, the FSB officials--
who belonged to a unit that is the FBI's liaison on cybercrime 
in Russia--worked with the hackers to target U.S. 
officials.\13\ They used the stolen account information to 
target Russian journalists critical of the Kremlin as well as 
American diplomatic officials, and gained access to the content 
of at least 6,500 accounts.\14\ The case was just one of many 
that showed how Russian intelligence agencies ``piggyback'' on 
hackers' criminal operations as ``a form of cheap intelligence 
gathering.'' \15\
    \12\ U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Charges Russian FSB Officers 
and Their Criminal Conspirators for Hacking Yahoo and Million of Email 
Accounts (Mar. 2017); Ingrid Lunden, ``After Data Breaches, Verizon 
Knocks $350M Off Yahoo Sale, Now Valued at $4.48B,'' Tech Crunch,  Feb. 
21, 2017.
    \13\ Aruna Viswanatha & Robert McMillan, ``Two Russian Spies 
Charged in Massive Yahoo Hack,'' The Wall Street Journal,  Mar. 15, 
    \14\ Ibid.
    \15\ Michael Schwirtz, ``U.S. Accuses Russian Email Spammer of Vast 
Network of Fraud,'' The New York Times, Apr. 10, 2017.
    The FSB also reportedly received piggyback rides from 
Evgeniy Bogachev, whom the FBI calls the ``most wanted 
cybercriminal in the world,'' and who was sanctioned by the 
U.S. Treasury Department in December 2016 for engaging in 
`'significant malicious cyber-enabled misappropriation of 
financial information for private financial gain.'' \16\ 
Despite his most-wanted status in the United States and several 
other countries, Bogachev is living openly in a Russian resort 
town on the Black Sea, from where he reportedly works ``under 
the supervision of a special unit of the FSB.'' \17\ U.S. law 
enforcement has accused Bogachev of running a network of up to 
a million virus-infected computers, across multiple countries, 
which he has used to steal hundreds of millions of dollars.\18\ 
Cybersecurity investigators noticed in 2011 that infected 
computers controlled by his network were being mined for 
information related to political events. For example, after the 
U.S. government agreed to arm Syrian opposition groups, 
computers in Turkey that were part of Bogachev's zombie network 
began to receive search requests for terms like ``arms 
delivery'' and ``Russian mercenary.'' \19\ Later, searches 
related to Ukraine sought information on government security 
officials and even looked for documents that had the English 
phrase ``Department of Defense.'' Given the stark difference 
from standard criminal searches on computers controlled by 
Bogachev and those searches, analysts believe that the purpose 
was espionage, and were likely a result of cooperation with 
Russian intelligence services.\20\
    \16\ Michael Schwirtz, ``U.S. Accuses Russian Email Spammer of Vast 
Network of Fraud,'' The New York Times, Apr. 10, 2017; Press Release, 
U.S. Department of the Treasury, Treasury Sanctions Two Individuals for 
Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities, Dec. 29, 2016.
    \17\ Ibid.
    \18\ Ibid.
    \19\ Ibid.
    \20\ Ibid.
    Bogachev also sold malware on the dark web, which often 
functions as an underground marketplace for cyber criminals. 
The New York Times has reported that some of the Russian hacker 
forums on the dark web explicitly state what kinds of 
cybercrime--such as bank fraud, drug sales, and 
counterfeiting--are permitted, with the sole exception that no 
targets can be in Russia or post-Soviet states. The rule among 
Russian hackers is ``Don't work in the .RU'' (.RU is the top-
level country domain for Russia, meaning firms and banks in the 
country are off-limits), and breaking that rule results in a 
lifetime ban from many of the Russian hacker dark web 
forums.\21\ One forum, for example, offered classes on how to 
steal credit cards, with ``the strict rule that course 
participants do not target Russian credit cards.'' \22\ The FBI 
has found that, instead of closing down these forums, the FSB 
has infiltrated them. FBI agents have even seen a Russian 
hacker they were investigating give a copy of his passport to a 
suspected Russian intelligence agent, implying that the state 
was likely either recruiting or protecting the hacker.\23\
    \21\ ``America's Hunt for Russian Hackers: How FBI Agents Tracked 
Down Four of the World's Biggest Cyber-Criminals and Brought Them to 
Trial in the U.S.,'' Meduza,  Sept. 19, 2017, https://meduza.io/en/
feature/2017/09/19/america-s-hunt-for-russian-hackers; Michael 
Schwirtz, ``U.S. Accuses Russian Email Spammer of Vast Network of 
Fraud,'' The New York Times, Apr. 10, 2017.
    \22\ John Simpson, ``Russian Hackers Offer Courses in Credit-Card 
Theft on the Dark Web,''The Times,  Jul. 19, 2017.
    \23\ Michael Schwirtz and Joseph Goldstein, ``Russian Espionage 
Piggybacks on a Cybercriminal's Hacking,'' The New York Times, Mar. 12, 
    Another notorious Russian hacker operating under the 
protection of the security services was Roman Seleznev, who 
targeted small businesses in U.S. cities like Washington, D.C., 
going after pizzerias, burrito shops, and bakeries. After U.S. 
law enforcement agents went to Moscow to present the FSB with 
evidence of Seleznev's crimes, his online presence vanished, 
suggesting that FSB officials had warned Seleznev that 
Americans were tracking him. U.S. prosecutors then concluded 
that ``further coordination with the Russian government would 
jeopardize efforts to prosecute this case.'' \24\
    \24\ Goldman, Adam & Matt Apuzzo. ``U.S. Faces Tall Hurdles in 
Detaining or Deterring Russian Hackers.'' The New York Times, Dec. 15, 
    A few years later, Seleznev re-emerged with the launch of a 
website that U.S. officials say ``reinvented the stolen credit 
card market'' and offered millions of stolen credit card 
numbers that could be searched and selected by customers based 
on credit card company and financial institution. Seleznev was 
careful to travel only to countries without extradition 
treaties with the United States, but State Department diplomats 
convinced officials in the Maldives, where he was vacationing, 
to detain and transfer him to U.S. custody. Russia's foreign 
ministry labeled the arrest an ``abduction,'' though the 
Russian government's true cause for alarm might have been for 
different reasons; in intercepted emails, Seleznev reportedly 
claimed that the FSB knew about his identity and activities and 
was giving him protection.\25\
    \25\ ``America's Hunt for Russian Hackers: How FBI Agents Tracked 
Down Four of the World's Biggest Cyber-Criminals and Brought Them to 
Trial in the U.S.,'' Meduza, Sept. 19, 2017, https://meduza.io/en/
    U.S. authorities found that Seleznev, while under the 
protection of Russia's security services, had breached point-
of-sale systems (typically a cash register with a debit/credit 
card reader) at more than 500 U.S. businesses and had stolen 
millions of credit card numbers between 2009 and 2013, which he 
then bundled and sold on the dark web to buyers who used the 
card information for fraudulent purchases.\26\ Another Russian 
hacker who stole credit card numbers, Dmitry Dokuchaev, 
reportedly had his prosecution in Russia for credit card fraud 
dismissed after he agreed to work for the FSB.\27\ According to 
the U.S. Department of Justice, as an FSB officer Dokuchaev 
allegedly ``protected, directed, facilitated, and paid criminal 
hackers'' responsible for the breach of Yahoo customer data, 
which was also used to obtain credit card account 
information.\28\ One expert asserts that hackers from Russia 
and Eastern Europe are now responsible for nearly 100 percent 
of all theft of consumers' payment card information at U.S. 
vendors' point-of-sale systems, and that 90 percent of that 
theft could be prevented by stopping only about 200 people, who 
are mostly hackers who got their start with the RBN in the late 
1990s and act as force multipliers.\29\
    \26\ U.S. Department of Justice, ``Russian Cyber-Criminal Sentenced 
to 27 Years in Prison for Hacking and Credit Card Fraud,'' Apr. 21, 
2017. In April 2017, Seleznev was sentenced to 27 years in prison. 
    \27\ Andrew Kramer, ``Hacker is a Villain to the United States, for 
Different Reasons,'' The New York Times, Mar. 15, 2017.
    \28\ U.S. Department of Justice, ``U.S. Charges Russian FSB 
Officers and Their Criminal Conspirators for Hacking Yahoo and Millions 
of Email Accounts,'' Mar. 15, 2017.
    \29\ Interview with Cybersecurity Expert, Sept. 2017.
    Hackers from Russia and Eastern Europe often target point-
of-sale systems at small U.S. businesses, such as restaurants, 
retailers, and car washes. And the buyers of that stolen 
information are mostly here in the United States.\30\ Once 
hackers steal the credit card information from these vendors, 
they bundle it together with other stolen cards and sell or 
auction them off on underground websites. For example, police 
in New England spearheaded an investigation that found that 40 
car washes across the country had been hacked at their point-
of-sale systems, resulting in the theft of ``countless'' 
customer credit and debit cards. The information from those 
cards were then sold to U.S. buyers, who used it to re-encode 
gift cards and make fraudulent purchases of several thousands 
of dollars at stores such as Target. According to one of the 
detectives leading the case, all of the suspects using the 
fraudulent gift cards ``are Blood gang members. And they're 
starting to work smarter, not harder.'' \31\
    \30\ Selena Larson, ``Cybercriminals Can Take a Class on Stealing 
Credit Cards,'' CNN Tech, Jul. 19, 2017.
    \31\ ``Card Wash: Card Breaches at Car Washes,'' Krebs on Security, 
 June 23, 2014.
    U.S. law enforcement officials and cybersecurity experts 
across the board have seen a large uptick in American street 
gangs using fraudulent purchases to fund their activities. 
According to the chief of the New York Police Department, 
``these gang members are tech-savvy.'' \32\ As in the case 
above, stolen credit cards are used to buy gift cards and big-
ticket items like large-screen televisions and iPads, which are 
then sold and the profits are used to fund weapon and drug 
purchases. In New York City in 2016, hundreds of gang members 
were arrested in possession of stolen credit card information, 
something that officials say ``almost never happened'' just 
five years ago, with ``gangs using credit card fraud to finance 
their violent activity [becoming] more of a trend over the last 
five years.'' \33\ In one case, 35 people affiliated with a 
Brooklyn street gang were ``arrested for allegedly financing 
violent crimes with elaborate credit card fraud schemes.'' \35\ 
The suspects reportedly purchased more than 750 credit card 
numbers from the dark web and used them to make purchases 
ranging from American Girl dolls to guns.\35\
    \32\ Jonathan Dienst & David Paredes, ``Violent Drug Gangs 
Increasingly turn to Credit Card Theft as Big Moneymaker,'' NBC New 
York,  Feb. 7, 2017.
    \33\ Ibid.; Ida Siegal, ``Brooklyn Gang Members Used Fake Credit 
Cards to Buy American Girl Dolls, Guns: Officials,'' NBC New York,  
Dec. 13, 2016.
    \34\ Ibid.
    \35\ Ibid.
    Cyber hacking facilitated by Russian security services 
enables a host of illicit activity and inflicts cascading harm 
on U.S. consumers and businesses. The FSB provides hackers with 
immunity from domestic prosecution in exchange for the 
occasional use of their computer networks and hacking expertise 
for espionage or information operations. Under this protection, 
the Russian hackers' criminal activities include stealing the 
banking information of U.S. consumers with complete impunity 
and posting it for sale on the dark web. That information is 
increasingly purchased by U.S. street gangs, who use it to make 
fraudulent purchases that are, in turn, used to fund gang and 
other criminal activities. This sequence shows that the cyber 
hacking activities of the FSB, carried out with Putin's 
knowledge and approval and often in concert with criminal 
hackers, are harming the financial and physical security of 
Americans in the United States.


                   Appendix E: Attacks and Harassment

                   Against Human Rights Activists 
                       Journalists Inside Russia


    Human rights activists and independent journalists inside 
the Russian Federation have often become the victims of violent 
attacks and harassment on account of their work. While a state 
role in individual attacks is not always visible, the general 
impunity with which these attacks have occurred reflect the 
government's failure to uphold the rule of law and ensure 
justice for victims. This climate of impunity perpetuates an 
environment hospitable to further attacks.
    For example, in July 2009, Natalia Estemirova, a well-known 
researcher with the Russian human rights group Memorial, who 
had worked extensively on documenting human rights abuses in 
the North Caucasus, was kidnapped by assailants in front of her 
home in Chechnya and her murdered body was later found in 
neighboring Ingushetia.\1\ Authorities later claimed they 
killed the perpetrator in a shootout, but Estemirova's family 
and associates have long questioned the evidence supporting the 
official version of events.\2\ No individuals have been 
convicted in connection with her killing. In February 2012, 
Memorial activist Philip Kostenko was beaten by two unknown 
assailants in a park, suffering a concussion and a broken leg, 
and was reportedly pressured by police while en route to the 
hospital to sign a document pledging not to file a police 
report.\3\ In March 2016, two employees of the Committee for 
the Prevention of Torture, traveling with foreign journalists 
on a monitoring trip through Russia's North Caucasus, were 
hospitalized after being beaten by masked men wielding baseball 
bats, who later set their bus on fire.\4\ The head of the 
Committee, Igor Kalyapin, was attacked a week later in the 
Chechen capital of Grozny, where local authorities investigated 
but never filed charges.\5\
    \1\ ``Russian Activist Natalia Estemirova Found Dead,'' The 
Telegraph,  July 15, 2009.
    \2\ Eline Gordts, ``Russia's Investigation of Opposition Murders 
Does Not Bode Well For Nemtsov Case,'' Huffington Post, Mar. 6, 2015.
    \3\ U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights 
Practices for 2012: Russia,  at 4.
    \4\ ``Russia: Journalists, Activists Attacked in North Caucasus,'' 
Human Rights Watch,  Mar. 9, 2016.
    \5\ U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights 
Practices for 2016: Russia, at 6.
    The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a U.S.-based 
NGO that analyzes attacks on the press globally, cites at least 
58 journalists killed in connection with their work in Russia 
since 1992.\6\ The murder in 2006 of Novaya Gazeta reporter 
Anna Politkovskaya is particularly emblematic of the threats 
that journalists in Russia face. Politkovskaya had written 
extensively on state corruption and human rights abuses in 
Chechnya, and before her death, had zeroed in on the torture 
and killings perpetrated by then Chechen prime minister Ramzan 
Kadyrov and his ``Kadyrovtsy'' personal security force. She had 
also written extensively on possible FSB connections with 
purported Chechen terrorists.\7\ Politkovskaya had reportedly 
been threatened directly by Kadyrov when she interviewed him in 
2005, and before that was allegedly poisoned on a plane ride to 
cover the Beslan terror attacks in North Ossetia in 2004 and 
detained by security forces during a 2002 visit to Chechnya.\8\ 
After she was murdered in the lobby of her apartment building 
on October 7, 2006, The New York Times noted that Putin 
`'sought to play down Ms. Politkovskaya's influence'' by 
describing her reporting as ``extremely insignificant for 
political life in Russia'' and saying her death had caused more 
harm than her publications.\9\ The investigation into her 
murder proceeded slowly, with a series of arrests, releases, 
and retrials. Eight years after her death, five Chechen men 
were convicted of killing Politkovskaya, with two receiving 
life sentences.\10\ A Moscow police officer pleaded guilty in 
2012 to providing the murder weapon and surveilling the victim 
before her death, receiving a reduced sentence in exchange for 
cooperating with authorities. Nevertheless, many observers 
alleged that the government's investigation of the murder 
stopped short of identifying--or punishing--the masterminds, 
and relatives of both Politkovskaya and the Chechen defendants 
criticized the trial as bogus.\11\
    \6\ Committee to Protect Journalists, ``58 Journalists Killed in 
Russia/Motive Confirmed,'' https://cpj.org/killed/europe/russia 
(visited Dec. 5, 2017).
    \7\ Scott Anderson, ``None Dare Call It a Conspiracy,'' GQ,  Mar. 
30, 2017; Claire Bigg, ``Politkovskaya Investigating Chechen Torture At 
Time of Death,'' Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Oct. 9, 2006.
    \8\ Ben Roazen, ``The Great Cost of Journalism in Vladimir Putin's 
Russia,'' GQ, Jan. 13, 2017; Committee to Protect Journalists, ``Anna 
Politkovskaya,'' https://cpj.org/data/people/anna-politkovskaya 
(visited Dec. 12, 2017).
    \9\ Andrew Roth, ``Prison for 5 in Murder of Journalists,'' The New 
York Times, June 9, 2014.
    \10\ Sergei L. Loiko, ``Five Sentenced In Slaying of Russian 
Journalist Anna Politkovskaya,'' Los Angeles Times,  June 9, 2014. 
Bizarrely, one of the suspected Chechen gunmen was shot in the leg in 
2013 on a Moscow street, in what his lawyer alleged was an attempt to 
silence him. ``Russia: Chechen Man on Trial in Killing Of Journalist Is 
Shot on Moscow Street,'' Reuters,  Aug. 16, 2013.
    \11\ Sergei L. Loiko, ``Five Sentenced In Slaying of Russian 
Journalist Anna Politkovskaya,'' Los Angeles Times,  June 9, 2014.
    Additional examples of violent attacks against journalists 
in Russia include that of Mikhail Beketov, the editor of a 
local newspaper in the Moscow suburb of Khimki, who was 
brutally attacked in 2008 by unknown assailants who left him 
with a crushed skull and broken hands and legs; Beketov was 
left in a coma and required a tracheotomy to breathe which left 
extensive scarring in his throat.\12\ Prior to the attack, 
Beketov had accused the Khimki mayor of corruption in his 
decision to build a highway through a forested area of the 
city, and he had been targeted for harassment before, including 
his car being set on fire and the killing of his dog.\13\ Two 
years after the attack, no perpetrators had been arrested--
rather, it was Beketov who was convicted of libel and ordered 
to pay damages to the Khimki mayor, though the verdict was 
later overturned. Beketov died in 2013 of choking that led to 
heart failure, which his colleagues asserted was directly 
related to the serious injuries he sustained in the Khimki 
attack.\14\ In April 2017, veteran investigative journalist and 
co-founder of the Novy Peterburg newspaper, Nikolai 
Andrushchenko, died six weeks after he had been badly beaten by 
unknown assailants. His colleagues alleged the attack was 
related to his coverage of public corruption.\15\
    \12\ Committee to Protect Journalists, ``Mikhail Beketov,'' https:/
/cpj.org/killed/2013/mikhail-beketov.php (visited Dec. 12, 2017).
    \13\ ``Russian Khimki Forest Journalist Mikhail Beketov Dies,'' BBC 
News, Apr. 9, 2013.
    \14\ Committee to Protect Journalists, ``Mikhail Beketov,'' https:/
/cpj.org/killed/2013/mikhail-beketov.php (visited Dec. 12, 2017).
    \15\ Jon Sharman, ``Russian Journalist and Putin Critic Dies After 
Being Beaten Up by Strangers,'' The Independent,  Apr. 19, 2017.
    Beyond violent attacks, criminal prosecutions have also 
been used to silence activists and Kremlin critics. In recent 
years, such prosecutions have targeted bloggers, filmmakers, 
and social media activists to signal that dissent is as risky 
online or in artistic contexts as it is over the air or in 
print. For example, blogger Alexey Kungurov was convicted in 
December 2016 of inciting terrorism and sentenced to two years 
in a penal colony.\16\ His arrest came after he posted a piece 
that criticized the Russian military's actions in Syria.\17\ 
Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who had peacefully protested 
the Russian annexation of his native Crimea, was detained by 
Russian authorities in the occupied territory of Ukraine and 
transferred to Russia for trial on a range of terrorism-related 
charges. He was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in August 
    \16\ PEN America, ``Alexey Kungurov,'' https://pen.org/advocacy-
case/alexey-kungurov (visited Dec. 12, 2017).
    \17\ Ibid.
    \18\ Sophia Kishkovsky, ``Russia Gives Ukrainian Filmmaker Oleg 
Sentsov a 20-Year Sentence,'' The New York Times, Aug. 25, 2015.


                  Appendix F: Flawed Elections in the 
                     Russian Federation Since 1999


    The conduct of democratic elections inside the Russian 
Federation has steadily deteriorated since Vladimir Putin came 
to power in 1999, as documented by repeated international 
election observation missions to the country. Coupled with the 
Russian government's growing efforts to suppress dissent 
broadly, the right of Russian citizens to choose their own 
government in free and fair elections has been increasingly 
stifled. After the upheaval of the 1990s and the beginning of 
the country's post-Communist transition, observers from the 
OSCE's Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights 
(ODIHR) described the December 1999 Duma elections as 
`'significant progress for the consolidation of democracy in 
the Russian Federation'' and noted a ``competitive and 
pluralistic'' process.\1\ Barely three months later, after 
President Yeltsin had resigned and handed the reigns to Putin 
as acting president, the ODIHR observation mission expressed 
concerns over improper campaigning by state and regional 
officials and the limited field of candidates.\2\ By 2003, 
ODIHR noted the Duma elections ``failed to meet many OSCE and 
Council of Europe (COE) commitments for democratic elections'' 
and called into question ``Russia's fundamental willingness to 
meet European and international standards for democratic 
elections.'' \3\ The assessment of the 2004 presidential 
election was equally bleak, finding that ``a vibrant political 
discourse and meaningful pluralism were lacking'' and citing 
problems with the secrecy of the ballot and the biased role of 
the state-controlled media.\4\ There was no ODIHR assessment 
for the 2007 Duma elections, in which the United Russia party 
won a two-thirds constitutional majority, because the 70 would-
be observers were denied visas, leaving them with insufficient 
time for meaningful election observation and leading ODIHR to 
scrap its mission.\5\ Similarly, ODIHR said it could not 
observe the 2008 presidential election in Russia because of 
``limitations'' placed by the government on the planned 
observer mission.\6\ The U.S. State Department cited the 
Russian government's ``unprecedented restrictions'' on ODIHR 
and noted that international observers who did witness the poll 
deemed it unfair, given frequent abuses of administrative 
resources, a heavily biased media environment, and restrictive 
changes to the election code.\7\
    \1\ The International Election Observation Mission--Russian 
Federation, 19 December 1999 Election of Deputies to the State Duma 
(Parliament), Preliminary Statement, Dec. 20, 1999 at 1.
    \2\ The International Election Observation Mission--Russian 
Federation, 26 March 2000 Election of President, Statement of 
Preliminary Findings & Conclusions, Mar. 27, 2000 at 1.
    \3\ The International Election Observation Mission--Russian 
Federation, 7 December 2003 State Duma Elections, Statement of 
Preliminary Findings and Conclusions, Dec. 8, 2003 at 1.
    \4\ The International Election Observation Mission--Russian 
Federation, 14 March 2004 Presidential Election in the Russian 
Federation, Statement of Preliminary Findings and Conclusions, Mar. 15, 
2004 at 7-8.
    \5\ ``Election Observers Unwelcome,'' Spiegel Online, Nov. 16, 
    \6\ Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, ``OSCE/
ODIHR Regrets that Restrictions Force Cancellation of Election 
Observation Mission to Russian Federation,'' Feb. 7, 2008.
    \7\ U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights 
Practices for 2008: Russia.
    The COE, the only outside body to field observers in the 
2008 presidential election, heavily critiqued the election and 
lamented the absence of ODIHR observers. The COE called the 
2008 poll ``more of a plebiscite'' than a genuine democratic 
exercise, citing the Kremlin's deliberate exclusion of the lone 
democratic challenger Mikhail Kasyanov, a former Prime Minister 
dismissed by Putin in 2004; the uneven media access favoring 
candidate (and Putin's preferred successor) Dmitry Medvedev; 
and the pressure placed by regional and local officials on 
public sector workers to vote for Medvedev.\8\ While ODIHR has 
since conducted election observation missions in Russia, the 
OSCE has assessed that ``the convergence of the State and the 
governing party'' in elections fails to reflect genuine 
    \8\ Luke Harding, ``Russia Election Not Free or Fair, Say 
Observers,'' The Guardian, Mar. 3, 2008.
    \9\ The International Election Observation Mission--Russian 
Federation, 4 December 2011 State Duma Elections, Statement of 
Preliminary Findings and Conclusions, Dec. 5, 2011 at 1.


                      Appendix G: Harsh Treatment
                     of LGBT Individuals and Women
                       in the Russian Federation


    President Putin has fueled culture wars to draw a 
distinction between Russian ``traditional values'' and the 
purported decadence and corruption of the West. The results 
have been particularly acute in the state's treatment of 
private and domestic life, including of lesbian, gay, bisexual, 
and transgender (LGBT) individuals and women. A series of anti-
LGBT laws introduced at regional levels in Russia in 2003 and 
2006 and at the federal level in 2013 essentially prohibit the 
public mention of homosexuality, including ``promoting non-
traditional sexual relationships among minors'' and drawing a 
`'social equivalence between traditional and non-traditional 
sexual relationships.'' \1\ Russia's anti-LGBT law also 
inspired copycat legislation that has been adopted or is 
pending in Lithuania, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, and Moldova, and 
that was introduced but ultimately withdrawn or failed in 
Latvia, Ukraine, Armenia, and Kazakhstan.\2\ In 2017, the 
European Court of Human Rights ruled that Russia's ``gay 
propaganda'' law, as it has often been called, was 
discriminatory and violated free expression.\3\
    \1\ Sewell Chan, ``Russia's `Gay Propaganda' Laws Are Illegal, 
European Court Rules,'' The New York Times,  June 20, 2017.
    \2\ Human Rights First, ``Spread of Russian-Style Propaganda Laws: 
Fact Sheet'' July 11, 2016.
    \3\ European Court of Human Rights, ``Legislation in Russia Banning 
the Promotion of Homosexuality Breaches Freedom of Expression and is 
Discriminatory, June 20, 2017. Sewell Chan, ``Russia's `Gay Propaganda' 
Laws Are Illegal, European Court Rules,'' The New York Times,  June 20, 
    In the years since its passage, the gay propaganda law has 
fueled violent recriminations against LGBT activists in Russia. 
The Russian LGBT Network, an NGO, used Russian government data 
to calculate that 22 percent of all hate crimes in 2015 were 
directed at LGBT persons.\4\ Press reports after the passage of 
the gay propaganda law cited harrowing examples of ``homophobic 
vigilantism'' in which ``emboldened'' right-wing groups would 
lure LGBT individuals to trick meetings via social media and 
then attack or humiliate them on camera.\5\ One Russian LGBT 
activist noted that, of 20 such incidents his organization had 
tracked, only four were investigated and just one resulted in a 
court case.\6\ More recently, reports emerged in early 2017 of 
a systematic campaign to round up and repress gay men in 
Chechnya, allegedly at the instruction of the powerful speaker 
of the Chechen parliament.\7\ Some NGOs estimate that as many 
as 200 individuals were detained in the campaign and subjected 
to various forms of torture, threatened with exposure to their 
families and honor killings, and pressured to give up the names 
of other gay men.\8\
    \4\ Russian LGBT Network, ``22% of Hate Crimes In Russia Are 
Committed Against LGBT,'' https://www.lgbtnet.org/en/content/22-hate-
crimes-russia-are-committed-against-lgbt (visited Dec. 31, 2017).
    \5\ Alec Luhn, ``Russian Anti-Gay Law Prompts Rise in Homophobic 
Violence,'' The Guardian,  Sept. 1, 2013.
    \6\ Ibid.
    \7\ Human Rights Watch, They Have Long Arms and They Can Find Me: 
Anti-Gay Purge by Local Authorities in Russia's Chechen Republic,  at 
1, 16, 19 (May 2017).
    \8\ Interviews by Committee Staff with U.S. NGOs.
    The politicization of traditional family values in Russia 
has also influenced the state's policies regarding the 
treatment of Russian women. According to Russian government 
statistics from 2013, Russian women are victims of crime in the 
home at disproportionately high rates, while 97 percent of 
domestic violence cases do not reach court.\9\ Against this 
bleak backdrop, the parliamentarian who introduced the original 
2013 gay propaganda law also introduced a law in 2017 dubbed 
the `'slapping law'' to reduce punishments for spousal abuse to 
a misdemeanor and administrative offense.\10\ The law was 
adopted by a vote of 380 to 3 in the Duma and signed by 
President Putin in February 2017, decriminalizing a first 
instance of domestic violence if the victim is not seriously 
injured; some observers have noted its passage was hastened by 
support from the Russian Orthodox Church.\11\
    \9\ U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights 
Practices for 2016: Russia,  at 56.
    \10\ Sadie Levy Gale, ``Russian Politician Behind Anti-Gay Law 
Wants to Decriminalise Domestic Violence,'' Independent, July 28, 2016.
    \11\ Tom Balmforth, ``Russian Duma Approves Bill to Soften Penalty 
for Domestic Violence,'' Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty,  Jan. 
27, 2017; Claire Sebastian & Antonia Mortensen, ``Putin Signs Law 
Reducing Punishment for Domestic Battery,'' CNN,  Feb. 7, 2017.


                Appendix H: Disinformation Narratives, 
                         Themes, and Techniques


    The Kremlin promotes a variety of anti-Western and pro-
Russian ``master narratives'' across its propaganda platforms, 
both within Russia and abroad. Russian government propagandists 
subscribe to these narratives and follow them to craft and 
frame disinformation campaigns that advance the Kremlin's 
positions and interests. One study commissioned in 2012 
identified several master narratives employed by Kremlin 
propagandists, including:

   Savior of Europe: Russia has been Europe's savior for over 
        200 years, ever since Alexander II stopped Napoleon's 
        armies from dominating Europe in 1812. Russia also 
        saved Europe from the Nazis, and Western nations tend 
        to minimize this achievement. Russia should proudly 
        assert its people's heroism to get the recognition it 
        deserves and be admired as a great power.

   Eurasian Bridge: Russia was founded as a great civilization 
        that acted as a bridge between East and West. The 
        collapse of the Soviet Union, which went from the 
        Baltic Sea to the Bering Strait, created a vacuum in a 
        region that it is Russia's destiny to shape and lead. 
        Russia has to advance its cultural, economic, and 
        diplomatic relationships to forge a new regional union 
        that can rival the other global powers.

   Catching Up with Rivals: In the 1990s, Russia tried to 
        emulate the unfettered capitalism of the West, causing 
        it to fall from its status as a global economic and 
        cultural leader. Putin and Medvedev returned Russia to 
        the path of prosperity and moved to modernize the 
        economy beyond natural resources by harnessing the 
        entrepreneurship and innovation of the Russian people. 
        Russia must continue to follow this path toward a 
        modern economy to remain strong and catch up to the 
        other global powers.

   Fortress Russia: For centuries, Russia has been attacked on 
        all fronts by imperial powers seeking to expand their 
        borders, from Japanese fleets in the east to Nazi 
        armies in the west. Now the United States, NATO, and 
        Europe are conspiring to surround Russia and keep it 
        from becoming an equal power. But Russia has and always 
        will defend itself and will continue to hold its ground 
        against aggressors that seek to weaken it.

   Good Tsar: Russia is at its best under the leadership of 
        strong leaders like Peter the Great that bring order 
        and stability. Western puppets like Boris Yeltsin were 
        weak and let Russia descend into chaos during the 
        1990s. But after Putin came to power, order and 
        stability returned. The Russian people should place 
        their trust in the Kremlin and be wary of its critics, 
        who seek to return Russia to chaos.\1\
    \1\ Monitor 360, Master Narrative Country Report Russia (Feb. 
2012). Government Accountability Office, U.S. Government Takes a 
Country-Specific Approach to Addressing Disinformation Overseas,  at 63 
(May 2017).

    Within these master narratives there are numerous prominent 
themes, which are adaptable to current events. A GAO analysis 
of over 2,000 Russian disinformation stories in Europe from 
November 2015 to December 2016 identified several commonly used 
narratives.\2\ The examples below show that some of these 
narratives are explicitly pro-Russia, while others do not 
mention Russia at all:
    \2\ Government Accountability Office, U.S. Government Takes a 
Country-Specific Approach to Addressing Disinformation Overseas,  at 67 
(May 2017).

   Western entities are Russophobic: The West banned Russian 
        athletes from the 2016 Olympic as part of its hybrid 
        war against Russia, and the United States and NATO are 
        preparing to destroy Russia after successfully causing 
        the collapse of the Soviet Union.

   Russia is a victim of the West, and Western media are anti-
        Russian or purposely spread disinformation and 
        propaganda: Media in the West falsely accuse the 
        Russian government of spreading disinformation, 
        supplying the missile that shot down Malaysian Airlines 
        Flight 17, killing civilians in Syria, and murdering 
        Alexander Litvinenko. The West is also trying to 
        provoke Russia into starting a new war and falsely 
        blames Russia for acts of aggression.

   Russia is the world's protector: Russian soldiers came to 
        the aid of Crimea's Russian-speaking people when they 
        were threatened by Ukrainian soldiers, and by annexing 
        the peninsula Russia saved Crimea from war. In Syria, 
        Russia's military intervention made terrorists agree to 
        a truce.

   Some Western entities support Russia or Russia's positions: 
        One in three Europeans consider Crimea a part of Russia 
        and some European countries recognize Crimea as part of 
        Russia. The U.S. media revered the outcomes of Russia's 
        military intervention in Syria.

   Russia's boundaries are not accurately reflected on maps, 
        and Russia owns additional lands: Ukraine has always 
        been a part of Russia and the Baltic countries and 
        Belarus are also part of Russia.

   Russia has not violated international agreements or 
        international law: Russia did not annex Crimea--Crimea 
        was returned to its native land as the result of a 
        referendum. Russian military aircraft did not break any 
        rules when they buzzed the U.S. warship Donald Cook.

   Western entities are trying to destabilize other regions of 
        the world: The United States led a violent coup against 
        Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, created ISIS, 
        and orchestrated the migrant crisis in Europe.

   The Ukrainian government is illegitimate and violent: The 
        Ukrainian government came to power through a coup and 
        is illegitimate, and Nazis lead the Ukrainian 
        government, which supports fascist policies and ideas.

   EU and/or European governments are unable to manage the 
        migration crisis or are manipulating the crisis for 
        other purposes: EU member states cannot protect their 
        citizens from violent migrants, who are altering 
        European culture. The EU is taking advantage of the 
        migrant crisis to create an occupation army that will 
        be authorized to take control of national borders 
        without the permission of member states.

   The West's values are evil, decadent, etc.: The European 
        Parliament promotes the gay movement in Europe and is 
        trying to eliminate male and female gender identities. 
        The sexual abuse of minors is a state-sponsored 
        national tradition in Norway and the country's 
        institution for the protection of children's rights 
        supports this system.

   The EU and/or European governments are American puppets: 
        The EU was created by the United States to take away 
        sovereignty from European member states, and Germany 
        facilitates U.S. hegemony over Europe.
    Russian government disinformation uses a wide variety of 
misleading propaganda techniques to persuade and convince 
audiences of its preferred narratives. The Center for European 
Policy Analysis has identified over 20 techniques commonly used 
by the Kremlin to spread disinformation.\3\ Often, several of 
these techniques will be used in combination for a single 
article or story that promotes the Kremlin's narrative on a 
particular event. These techniques include:
    \3\ Center for European Policy Analysis, ``Techniques,'' http://
infowar.cepa.org/Techniques (visited Dec. 31, 2017).

   Ping pong: uses complementary websites to raise the profile 
        of a story and get mainstream media to pick it up.

   Misleading title: uses facts or statements in a story that 
        may be correct, but the title is misleading.

   Zero proof: provides no sources or proof to validate a 
        story's facts or statements.

   False visuals: similar to false facts, but uses doctored 
        visual productions to give extra weight to false facts 
        or narratives.

   Totum pro parte or ``the whole for a part'': for example, 
        using the opinion of just one academic or expert to 
        portray the official position of a government.

   Altering the quotation, source, or context: facts and 
        statements reported from other sources are different 
        than the original. For example, a statement will be 
        attributed to a different person than who actually said 
        it or a quote is placed out of context to change its 

   Loaded words or metaphors: obscures the facts behind an 
        event by substituting accurate words with more abstract 
        ones, for example saying that someone ``died 
        mysteriously'' rather than ``was poisoned.'' The 
        Western press has also aided the Kremlin's narrative by 
        using terms like ``little green men'' instead of 
        ``Russian troops'' in Crimea, thereby maintaining a 
        seed of doubt as to who they really were.

   Ridiculing, discrediting, and diminution: uses ad hominem 
        attacks and mockery to sideline facts and statements 
        that run counter to the Kremlin's narratives.

   Whataboutism: makes false equivalencies between two 
        disconnected events to support the Kremlin's policies 
        and promote its narrative. For example, comparing the 
        annexation of Crimea to the invasion of Iraq.

   Conspiracy theories:  use rumors and myths to anger, 
        frighten, or disgust an audience. Examples include 
        stories like ``Latvia wants to send its Russian 
        population to concentration camps,'' or ``The United 
        States created the Zika virus.'' Another version 
        reverses the technique, by labeling factual stories as 

   Joining the bandwagon:  casts a certain view as being that 
        of the majority of people, thereby giving it more 

   Drowning facts with emotion:  a form of the ``appeal to 
        emotion'' fallacy, which drowns out facts by portraying 
        a story in such a way as to maximize its emotional 
        impact. The fake story of a Russian girl being sexually 
        assaulted by Muslim immigrants in Germany is a good 
        example, where, even though the story was proven to be 
        false and widely discredited, it so inflamed people's 
        emotions that they were distracted from the story's 
        absence of facts.


                Appendix I: Letter from Senator Cardin 
                        to European Ambassadors


          The following letter requesting information on the 
        Russian government's malign influence operations was 
        sent to more than 40 ambassadors in Washington, D.C. 
        who represent various European countries. Responses to 
        this letter helped to inform the findings of this 

                                                      June 13, 2017
    Dear Ambassador,  The U.S. intelligence community has 
assessed that the Russian government engaged in an influence 
campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election, 
including sponsoring and exploiting cyber intrusions and 
creating and spreading disinformation. As you know, there are 
several investigations underway to determine the scope and 
impact of this interference in our democratic process.
    However, the Russian government's recent actions were not 
the first time it has sought to interfere in the elections of 
other states. Over many years, the Russian government has 
developed, refined, and deployed its toolkit for malign 
influence in Europe and elsewhere. We believe that these 
efforts, which seek to erode citizens' confidence in the 
credibility of democratic institutions, pose a grave threat to 
the national security interests of the United States and our 
allies and partners around the world.
    The United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee 
minority staff, as part of our oversight responsibilities, is 
conducting a study of the Russian government's malign influence 
operations throughout Europe and other key countries around the 
world. To better understand the scope of this threat, we 
respectfully request any relevant information from your 
    Specifically, we are interested in information related to 
any of the following activities:

   Acquisitions made in your state in economic sectors such as 
        energy, finance, infrastructure, media, and real estate 
        by individuals or entities controlled, financed or 
        affiliated with the Russian government, and who are 
        known to or alleged to have engaged in corrupt 

   Dissemination of disinformation with the intent to 
        influence and confuse the public debate on issues of 
        national importance in your state, including attempts 
        to libel or compromise leading political figures, civil 
        society activists, and others who the Kremlin may have 
        deemed a threat to its interests, by individuals or 
        entities controlled, financed or affiliated with the 
        Russian government.

   Expansion of media organizations into your state's media 
        markets, including TV, radio, and the internet by 
        individuals or entities controlled, financed or 
        affiliated with the Russian government.

   Funding, organizational assistance, or other support of any 
        political parties, civil society groups, or other non-
        governmental organizations in your state by individuals 
        or entities controlled, financed or affiliated with the 
        Russian government.

   Attempts to infiltrate the computer systems of the 
        government, political parties, civil society groups, 
        non-governmental organizations, or private enterprises 
        in your state by individuals or entities controlled, 
        financed or affiliated with the Russian government, 
        especially with the intent to steal and disseminate 
        information to influence public debate.

   Any other information that may be relevant or helpful to 
        our study.

    Finally, we are also interested in learning about any 
counter-measures that your country has taken to prevent or 
respond to these malign influence activities.

    We greatly appreciate your assistance in gathering this 
information, which will help inform our study and shape our 
recommendations for a strong, coordinated response with our 
allies and partners.

                                        Benjamin L. Cardin,
                                                    Ranking Member.