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Who is doing the propaganda?

With the help of leaked documents from the British Foreign Office, the American journalist Max Blumenthal was able to prove what is often dismissed in public discourse as a “conspiracy theory”. Together with private security companies, the British government has built up a comprehensive network whose task is the information war against Russia and its influence on neighbouring states. The goal: “Regime change” in Russia. According to the documents, it is not only the British government and NATO-funded propaganda organisations such as the Integrity Initiative or the “research network” Bellingcat, which is also frequently cited by German media, that are locked into the network, but also Reuters and the BBC, two media organisations that are still regarded as a beacon of Western quality journalism.

In its “principles of trust”, Thomson Reuters is committed to never surrendering oneself to the interests of any person, group or faction, and to fully preserving integrity, independence and freedom from influence at all times. That such slogans are not worth the paper on which they stand is shown by the recent leaks of the hacker collective “Anonymous”, which the American journalist Max Blumenthal evaluated. According to the report, the “non-profit” part of the Thomson Reuters Group, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was and is deeply involved in a covert project by the British Foreign Office aimed at bringing Russian journalists “closer to Britain’s positions”. These recruitment campaigns, disguised as “training programmes”, were carried out by Reuters; they were initiated, co – ordinated and funded by the British Foreign Office under the mit-officially funded £ 5 million programme “Counter Disinformation & Media Development”, whose aim is to gain control of opinion in the “information war” against Russia. Incidentally, this programme is being advised by the British Embassy in Moscow. According to leaked documents, Reuters has “trained"at least 80 Russian journalists in this program. This training apparently consisted primarily in the establishment of a network, which is managed on a concrete level by project partners from the direct environment of the British Foreign Intelligence Service.

Also on board this programme is the venerable BBC via its “non-profit” subsidiary BBC Media Action. The task of the BBC was and is to train journalists and media managers in the neighbouring countries of Russia and to “network"them within the framework of the programme. One was and is active in the three Baltic republics, in Ukraine, in Moldova and Georgia. The aim is to influence especially the Russian-speaking minorities and to communicate positions that are pro-Western and pro-NATO. These programmes are also funded by the British Foreign Office and coordinated under the Information War Programme.

The fact that these supposedly independent media organisations are being harnessed by the British government – and probably also by NATO – to wage an information war against Russia on the part of the West is at best surprising for those who still believe in the independence of Western media. For regular readers of the reflection pages this might be less surprising. The real peculiarity of these leaks is that you can now read in black and white what you always suspected.

However, the integration of these programs into an opaque network of intelligence-related companies, whose activities rarely come to the public, is of greater geopolitical urgency. In addition to the Thomson Reuters Foundation and the BBC Media Action, a company called Aktis Strategy was the UK government’s third project partner in the forerunner of the current programmes. The task of Aktis was network building and active information warfare in areas of particular political urgency – including the embattled Donetsk Basin, Transnistria, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the regions in which the war against Russian interests is also being waged hotly. In contrast to the projects of the BBC, there is also active talk of military training in the context of “electronic warfare”. Organizationally, these three programs are under one roof.

The name Aktis Strategy can be used to establish a connection between these programmes and the larger information war strategy of the British government. Arctic was part of the consortium of the so-called “Expose Network”, which was launched in the context of the busy “Integrity Initiative”. In 2019, the reflection pages had reported extensively on this propaganda enterprise by the British government and NATO.

Part of the “Expose Network” initiated in 2018 are the companies Zinc Network, Institute for Statecraft, Aktis Strategy, Bellingcat, DFR Lab, the Media Diversity Institute, Toro Risk Solutions and Ecorys – all of which specialize in the management of the information war against Russia and are led by former senior staff of the British services, the military and NATO or – as in the case of the “research network” Bellingcat – financed by them.

Unfortunately, the leaks to this network are mainly from 2018 and in detail no longer current. For example, Aktis Strategy has not existed since 2019. By the way, the earlier leaks of Anonymous may have played a decisive role in this. The former intelligence officers and military officers who ran these companies have now established new security and advisory firms in addition to their activities in the relevant think tanks, which are highly likely to continue to operate in this or a new network under a new name 1:1.

Particularly interesting in the active context of the " Navalny affair “is the work of this” consortium “in building a” counter-public " in Russia. It was the task of the consortium participant Zinc Network to advise, finance and network “YouTubers” in Russia. According to the documents classified as “private and confidential”, it was also a matter of concealing Western payments to these agents of influence, bypassing Russian laws, advising them on communication strategies and formulating central messages. Whether Alexei Navalny was self-financed is not clear from the documents. On the British payroll, however, there is apparently a high-ranking employee of Navalny. Vladimir Ashurkov, who is now executive director and deputy Navalny in his “Anti-corruption Foundation”. He was filmed in 2013 by Russian intelligence suggesting to a British agent that he be given” US$ 10 or 20 million “to"generate a different picture of the political landscape in Russia.” In 2018, Ashurkov, who had previously sought political asylum in the UK, appeared in the leaked documents as an influence agent of the “Integrity Initiative”.

Today, Ashurkov is often cited by Western media as a “key witness” in the Navalny case and was recently allowed to present his version on “Putin’s Palace”. He was also part of the group of “Navalny supporters” that a few weeks ago submitted a sanctions list to the EU Commission-but the UK is no longer in the EU. Especially DW note the writing iron, team! By the way, DW is financed only by the German state, not by contributions to public legal propaganda.

Isn’t it amazing that you don’t hear or read about all these things in “our” media? Imagine if there were documents proving that the largest Russian television and radio station is using funds from the Russian Foreign Ministry to finance German bloggers and help them with money laundering. Imagine Russian secret service agents “training” German journalists and building and financing a network of pro-Russian journalists in Germany. Imagine the Russian Embassy in Berlin supporting a German YouTuber as he shoots a video about an imaginary “Merkel Palace”, which then becomes headline number one in the Russian media. The excitement would certainly be great. But when the British do this, there is eloquent silence. “We” are grandmasters in the application of double standards.