Russia Reform Monitor - No.2141

More evidence of Moscow's hand in MH17 downing;
Russia's 2011 election - fraud on a massive scale


July 11, 2017


June 5:

A new report from the U.S. National Security Agency has provided fresh details regarding Russia's attempts to hack the 2016 U.S. election.
NPR reports that the leaked intelligence study confirms that Russia's military intelligence agency engaged in a spear-phishing scheme designed to compromise the computers of local election officials in the run-up to last November's vote. The hackers targeted VR Systems, a Florida-based provider of voter registration systems, and reportedly sent malware-infected emails to 122 local election officials. VR Systems claims that none of its customers were compromised, but such tactics present a major cause for concern. According to security expert Jeremy Epstein, infecting the computers of local elections officials would give hackers access to other key aspects of the election process, including voting machines. While intelligence officials have confirmed that Russian hackers in no way tampered with individual votes, the NSA report nevertheless points to a concerted Russian effort to compromise voting technology.

What role did Moscow play in the MH17 incident? Russian officials have vociferously denied any involvement by their government in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 over eastern Ukraine in July 2014. But,
notes Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a new report from investigative journalism website Bellingcat adds to the evidence that Russia was indeed behind the shootdown. The study includes photos of drivers and truck convoys from Russia's 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, which many believe fired the missiles that brought down the aircraft. The report also provides the personal information of Russian officers and enlisted soldiers who Bellingcat believes had prior knowledge of, or participated in, the attack on the plane.

June 6:

The European Court of Human Rights has formally ruled that Russia's 2011 election was unfree and a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the right to a free and fair vote. "The fairness of the elections was seriously compromised by the procedure in which the votes had been recounted. In particular, the extent of recounting, unclear reasons for ordering it, lack of transparency and breaches of procedural guarantees in carrying it out, as well as the results whereby the ruling party gained votes by large margins, strongly support the suspicion of unfairness," the court said in its official ruling.

"The significance,"
notes Vladimir Kara Murza in World Affairs Journal, "is difficult to overstate. The fraudulent nature of Russia's 2011 parliamentary election is no longer an opinion of a partisan political group, a reputable NGO, or even international monitoring organizations like the OSCE, but an official verdict by Europe’s highest judicial body." In all, court officials estimate that 41 million fraudulent ballots were cast in the election - or one in five of all ballots cast.

June 7:

Crimean Tatar leader Ilmi Umerov has gone on trial for charges of separatism,
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports. Moscow's Memorial Human Rights Center has condemned the trial as "illegal and politically motivated." Umerov, who served as deputy chairman of the mejlis, the governing body for Crimean Tatars (which Moscow has outlawed) has been an outspoken opponent of Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea - a stance that has landed him in hot water with local authorities, who committed him to a stint in a psychiatric hospital before formally initiating legal proceedings against him. For his part, Umerov has called for an open trial because he wishes to bring attention to the injustices committed against Crimean Tatars under Russian rule.

June 8:

Lawmakers from the "United Russia" and "Just Russia" factions, as well as the Communist Party, have introduced a new bill in the State Duma that would ban the use of Virtual Private Network (VPN) services and other programs that circumvent internet censorship restrictions,
according to the Meduza web portal. The bill would require internet anonymizers to block access to restricted sites, or face restrictions themselves. The measure, however, is controversial even by Kremlin standards, with Russia's presidential Internet commissioner, Dmitry Marinichev, publicly coming out in opposition to the bill as a major infringement on the public's right to privacy.

Related Categories: Russia; Russia and Eurasia Program; Ukraine

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