Vladimir Putin

The war in Ukraine is less “surprising” to some who’ve seen it raging since 2014. Although it escalated greatly in 2022, the Ukraine timeline dates back all the way to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

To understand the backstory — which is now inextricably intertwined with our own presidential history given the impeachment of Donald Trump over his phone calls with Zelensky to the Republican Party‘s current-day support of the aims of Vladimir Putin — we have to go back to a time when no one was stronger on anti-Russian policy than GOP darling Ronald Reagan.

  • 1991 — Ukraine declares independence and becomes an independent entity after the fall of the Soviet Union
  • 1994 — Ukraine agrees to give up its nuclear arsenal in exchange for a protection agreement with Russia, United States, Britain, and Ireland (Budapest Memorandum)
  • 2004Viktor Yanukovich “wins” election under dubious circumstances and is deposed for a do over election, which he loses to Viktor Yuschenko (Orange Revolution)
  • 2006 — Viktor Yanukovych begins working directly with Paul Manafort, in an effort to boost his image after his electoral loss. Manafort was known for his work helping the “Torturers’ Lobby” of brutal dictators around the world in the 1980s, with Roger Stone (another infamous dirty trickster best known for his role as a fixer for Richard Nixon).
  • 2007 — Yanukovych’s Party of Regions does well in the Ukranian parliamentary elections, gaining a large number of seats credited to Manafort’s strategic advice about Western-style campaigning.
  • 2010 — Yanukovych is elected President of Ukraine, again largely crediting Manafort’s strategies for his comeback.
  • Nov 2013 — Having promised a more European-style government in order to win the presidency in 2010, Yanukovych turned on his word and initiated more pro-Russian policies than the Ukranians had signed up for. Yanukovych is now beset by enormous public protests against the corruption of his regime, and his unilateral decision to abandon an association agreement with the EU in favor of a trade agreement with Russia (Maidan Revolution / Revolution of Dignity)
  • Feb 2014 — After a harrowing 93 days barricaded inside Kyiv’s Maidan Square, activists are victorious; Yanukovich is deposed and flees to Russia
  • Mar 2014 — Russian forces invade and annex the region of Crimea within Ukraine
  • Apr 2014 — Russian forces invade the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine, escalating a war that continues to this day and had already killed more than 14,000 people by the time the 2022 large scale invasion began
  • Apr 2014 — Hunter Biden and business partner Devon Archer join the board of Burisma
  • May 2014 — Candy magnate Petro Poroshenko succeeds Yanukovych as president of Ukraine
  • Feb 10, 2015Viktor Shokin takes office as the prosecutor general of Ukraine, tasked with getting a handle on rampant corruption
  • Oct 8, 2015 — US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland reiterates strong concerns that Shokin is failing to prosecute obvious corruption in Ukraine, and that efforts at anti-corruption must be stepped up there
  • Dec 8, 2015 — Then VP and point person on Ukraine Joe Biden gave a speech to the Ukrainian parliament, urging them to step up their efforts to pursue anti-corruption reforms to help strengthen their young democracy
  • Winter 2015-6 — Biden is talking to Poroshenko about how Shokin is slow-walking their anti-corruption efforts
  • Feb 16, 2016 — Viktor Shokin resigns as Prosecutor General of Ukraine
  • May 12, 2016Yuriy Lutsenko is appointed as the new Prosecutor General, despite having no law degree or legal experience. At first he takes a hard line against Burisma.
  • Aug 14, 2016 — “Black ledger” payments to Paul Manafort from Viktor Yanukovych go public
  • May 10, 2017Trump hosts Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the Oval Office, the day after he has fired James Comey as the Director of the FBI over “the Russian thing” — only a photographer for Russian news agency Tass is allowed to cover the meeting
  • June 2017 — The NotPetya malware emerges and causes extensive damage — especially in Ukraine. It is widely fingerprinted as a Russian state-sponsored attack.
  • October 30, 2017 — Paul Manafort is indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for money laundering, acting as a foreign agent, making false statements, and conspiracy against the United States, as part of the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.
  • Apr 30, 2018 — At a Trump dinner in his DC hotel, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman tell Trump they think Ukraine Ambassador Yovanovitch isn’t loyal enough to him
  • May-June 2018 — Lev Parnas pressures US Congressman Pete Sessions to pressure Trump to fire Yovanovitch in exchange for campaign funding; he and Fruman are later arrested for this scheme and other federal charges of illegal foreign funding of election campaigns
  • Summer 2018 — Trump reportedly frets a potential Biden run for the presidency
  • August 2018 — Lev Parnas’s company, which is named (I kid you not) “Fraud Guarantee,” hires Rudy Giuliani‘s firm for $500,000 to continue working on getting Ambassador Yovanovitch fired for doing her job pursuing corruption in Ukraine.
  • Sept 2018Congress passes and Trump signs a spending bill for the Department of Defense, including $250 million in military aid to Ukraine under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI)
  • Late 2018 — Lev Parnas arranges for Giuliani to meet with both Shokin and Lutsenko on multiple occasions; Devin Nunes also secretly meets with Shokin in Vienna.
  • Dec 6, 2018 — Trump pressures Parnas and Fruman to pressure the Ukrainian government to open an investigation into the Bidens
  • Late Feb, 2019 — Parnas and Fruman pressure then-President Poroshenko to open an investigation into the Bidens, in exchange for a state visit at the White House that would help his challenging re-election campaign against the popular young upstart comedian Volodymyr Zelenskyy
  • Spring 2019 — A “working group” of Giuliani, Parnas, Fruman, conservative Hill reporter John Solomon, Joseph diGenova, Victoria Toensing, and Devin Nunes’s top aide Harvey meet regularly to work on the quid pro quo project
  • March 2019 — Prosecutor General Lutsenko opens 2 investigations: 1 into alleged Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 US election (a Russian conspiracy theory) and a 2nd into Hunter Biden’s involvement with Burisma (he will later retract many of his allegations).
  • March 24, 2019 — Don Jr. tweets criticism of Ambassador Yovanovitch
  • March 28, 2019 — Giuliani hands off a smear campaign packet of disinformation cobbled together on Yovanovitch, intended for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
  • April 24, 2019 — Trump orders Marie Yovanovitch recalled from her diplomatic mission in Ukraine, after Giuliani and other allies reported she was undermining and obstructing their efforts to extort Ukrainian president Volodomyr Zelensky to claim he was investigating the Bidens for corruption.
  • July 25, 2019 — On a phone call with Zelensky, Trump pressures him to investigate Biden in exchange for the release of funds to keep the Russians at bay in Crimea. He disparages Yovanovitch on the call, referring to her as “bad news.”
  • Oct 3, 2019 — Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch is unsummarily fired by Donald Trump after recently having been invited to continue her post for several more years
  • Dec 18, 2019 — The House of Representatives votes to impeach Donald Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, the first of two times Trump will be impeached.
  • Feb 5, 2020 — The Republican-controlled Senate voted along party lines, having called no witnesses, to acquit Donald Trump of both impeachment charges.
  • Feb 2022 — Russian forces begin a large scale land invasion of Ukraine including massive attacks on civilian cities.
  • Feb 2024 — Donald Trump holds up a bipartisan immigration deal in Congress that would allow military aide funds to Ukraine to be released. Running for a second term as US President, Trump continues to break with 80 years of the post-WWII international order — in refusing to support NATO, the alliance widely regarded as keeping the peace in Europe broadly, as well as in supporting the regime of Vladimir Putin in Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.
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Hybrid Warfare

Information warfare involves the use and management of information to gain a competitive advantage over an opponent, including both offensive and defensive measures. Offensive tactics might involve cyber attacks, hacking, and disinformation campaigns aimed at undermining an adversary’s decision-making process or public morale. Defensive measures focus on protecting one’s own information systems and networks from similar attacks. Information warfare is heavily reliant on technology and the internet, making it particularly relevant in the digital age.

Information warfare, by Midjourney

Geopolitical conflict is now less about the collision of massive armies and much more about a combination of information warfare, intelligence, espionage, criminal networks, cyberwarfare, psychological warfare, and an overall blend of strategies in addition to traditional “hot” war mechanisms like troop deployment — as well as more modern twists on military engagement including drone strikes and cyberoffensives (the Russia-Ukraine conflict is a canonical modern example of this hybrid warfare strategy). Russian psychological warfare of the Cold War era presaged much of what was to come in modern day spy vs. spy intensity, and the advent of the Internet, social media, and an entirely new digital threat horizon heralds the growth of this form of conflict for years and decades to come.

Information warfare in the United States

Nor is it simply a geopolitical problem manifested by foreign adversaries — now information warfare is a domestic disturbance fomented largely by right-wing political actors and reactionaries in a massive backlash to the cultural and social progress of multiethnic democracy in America since the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. From massive corporate PR campaigns lying to the public about the cancerous consequences of smoking to the deliberate seeding of conspiracy theories like QAnon into political discourse, the information warfare playbook has gone mainstream within the Republican party.

Whether we’re aware of it or not, we as American citizens are unwitting infantry in a new form of slow-moving Civil War. In this war, some of the first armaments to pick up are in this set of dictionaries below. Knowledge has always been power — but now, knowledge is one of our best defenses against the Dark Arts as well.

Information warfare terms

More dictionaries ยป

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The essence of the Soviet term bespredel is the “limitless and total lack of accountability of the elite oligarchs”; lawlessness; anarchy; no presence of the rule of law.

“Bespredel” is a Russian term that has seeped into broader discourse, particularly in discussions about social, political, and cultural behaviors. At its core, “bespredel” translates to “limitlessness” or “without limit,” but its connotations stretch far beyond this literal interpretation.

Bespredel means a society without morals

It evokes a state of lawlessness, anarchy, or the absence of boundaries, where traditional rules and moral codes are disregarded. This concept is often associated with the extreme exertion of power and control, where individuals or groups act with impunity, unconstrained by societal norms or legal frameworks.

The term seems closely related to the concept of pathocracy, in which society’s most personality disordered individuals congregate at the helm of power and wreak their very worst havoc on the rest of the population.

Bespredel operates in multiple contexts

In various contexts, “bespredel” has been used to describe situations ranging from personal relationships to the highest levels of political power. It captures a sense of unchecked aggression, corruption, or exploitation, where the absence of limits leads to extreme and often destructive behavior.

This term is particularly resonant in discussions about the post-Soviet social landscape, where rapid changes and the vacuum of power sometimes led to chaotic conditions and a blurring of moral and legal boundaries as state capture and capital flight remade the country seemingly overnight. In literature and media, “bespredel” is employed to explore themes of nihilism, resistance, and the human condition in the face of overwhelming and unchecked authority.

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In it simplest form, active measures incorporates information warfare aimed at undermining the West.

Active measures (“ะฐะบั‚ะธะฒะฝั‹ะต ะผะตั€ะพะฟั€ะธัั‚ะธั” in Russian) refer to a form of political warfare conducted by the Soviet Union and now, by extension, Russia, to influence the course of world events. These measures include a wide range of activities, such as espionage, the dissemination of propaganda, and the establishment of front organizations, all aimed at manipulating the public opinion and decision-making processes in other countries.

The goal is often to destabilize opponents and weaken alliances contrary to the interests of the Soviet Union or Russia, without engaging in much riskier direct military conflict.

Disinformation in active measures

Historically, active measures have included complex operations, such as spreading disinformation, orchestrating smear campaigns, and using psychological warfare to sow discord and confusion among the target population. For example, during the Cold War, the KGB engaged in active measures to spread false information about the United States, aiming to weaken its credibility and influence on the global stage.

These operations were meticulously planned and could span years or even decades, employing a variety of tactics from leaking altered documents to fostering relationships with sympathetic or unknowing individuals within influential positions.

In the digital age, the concept of active measures has evolved with technology. Social media platforms and the internet have become fertile grounds for such operations, allowing for the rapid spread of disinformation and the manipulation of public opinion on a scale previously unimaginable.

These modern active measures can involve cyber attacks, the use of trolls and bots to amplify divisive content, and the strategic release of hacked information to influence political outcomes, as seen in various elections around the world (the Wikileaks email dumps that helped Trump eke out the presidency in 2016, e.g.). The adaptability and covert nature of active measures make them a persistent challenge for governments and societies trying to safeguard democratic processes and maintain national security.

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Sockpuppets are fake social media accounts used by trolls for deceptive and covert actions, avoiding culpability for abuse, aggression, death threats, doxxing, and other criminal acts against targets.

In the digital age, the battleground for political influence has extended beyond traditional media to the vast, interconnected realm of social media. Central to this new frontier are “sockpuppet” accounts – fake online personas created for deceptive purposes. These shadowy figures have become tools in the hands of authoritarian regimes, perhaps most notably Russia, to manipulate public opinion and infiltrate the political systems of countries like the UK, Ukraine, and the US.

What are sockpuppet accounts?

A sockpuppet account is a fake online identity used for purposes of deception. Unlike simple trolls or spam accounts, sockpuppets are more sophisticated. They mimic real users, often stealing photos and personal data to appear authentic. These accounts engage in activities ranging from posting comments to spreading disinformation, all designed to manipulate public opinion.

The Strategic Use of Sockpuppets

Sockpuppet accounts are a cog in the larger machinery of cyber warfare. They play a critical role in shaping narratives and influencing public discourse. In countries like Russia, where the state exerts considerable control over media, these accounts are often state-sponsored or affiliated with groups that align with government interests.

Case Studies: Russia’s global reach

  1. The United Kingdom: Investigations have revealed Russian interference in the Brexit referendum. Sockpuppet accounts spread divisive content to influence public opinion and exacerbate social tensions. Their goal was to weaken the European Union by supporting the UK’s departure.
  2. Ukraine: Russia’s geopolitical interests in Ukraine have been furthered through a barrage of sockpuppet accounts. These accounts disseminate pro-Russian propaganda and misinformation to destabilize Ukraine’s political landscape, particularly during times of crisis, elections, or — most notably — during its own current war of aggression against its neighbor nation.
  3. The United States: The 2016 US Presidential elections saw an unprecedented level of interference. Russian sockpuppets spread divisive content, fake news, and even organized real-life events, creating an environment of distrust and chaos. Their goal was to sow discord and undermine the democratic process.
Vladimir Putin with his sheep, by Midjourney

How sockpuppets operate

Sockpuppets often work in networks, creating an echo chamber effect. They amplify messages, create false trends, and give the illusion of widespread support for a particular viewpoint. Advanced tactics include deepfakes and AI-generated text, making it increasingly difficult to distinguish between real and fake content.

Detection and countermeasures

Detecting sockpuppets is challenging due to their evolving sophistication. Social media platforms are employing AI-based algorithms to identify and remove these accounts. However, the arms race between detection methods and evasion techniques continues. Governments and independent watchdogs also play a crucial role in exposing such operations.

Implications for democracy

The use of sockpuppet accounts by authoritarian regimes like Russia poses a significant threat to democratic processes. By influencing public opinion and political outcomes in other countries, they undermine the very essence of democracy โ€“ the informed consent of the governed. This digital interference erodes trust in democratic institutions and fuels political polarization.

As we continue to navigate the complex landscape of digital information, the challenge posed by sockpuppet accounts remains significant. Awareness and vigilance are key. Social media platforms, governments, and individuals must collaborate to safeguard the integrity of our political systems. As citizens, staying informed and critically evaluating online information is our first line of defense against this invisible but potent threat.

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The Snow Revolution was a series of popular protests beginning in Moscow in 2011, demanding the reinstatement of free elections, the ability to form opposition parties, and the end of massive state corruption. The protests were sparked by claims of electoral fraud in the 2011 Russian parliamentary elections and were further fueled by Vladimir Putin‘s announcement that he would seek a third presidential term.

Tens of thousands of Russians took to the streets in Moscow and other cities, marking the largest public demonstrations since the fall of the Soviet Union. Hundreds if not thousands of protestors were detained on the first day of action (Dec 5), continuing over the next 2 years as punishments grew increasingly harsh and more activists were sent to penal colonies.

Snow Revolution in Russia, by Midjourney

The role of social media in the Snow Revolution

The protests were notable for their use of technology and social media, which played a crucial role in organizing and spreading awareness. This was a new phenomenon in Russian political activism, reflecting the influence of the digital age on political movements.

One of the leaders of the Snow Revolution, Alexei Navalny, emerged as a serious rival to Putin’s rule. In 2020 the Russian dictator had the popular blogger-turned-political leader poisoned with the powerful nerve agent novichok. He was treated in Germany and managed to survive, only to voluntarily return and be thrown into prison indefinitely by the Russian state.

Alexei Navalny in a high-security prison, by Midjourney

Aftermath of the Snow Revolution

The Russian government responded with a mix of concessions and repressions. While some dialogue was opened with opposition figures, and a few electoral reforms were promised, there was also a significant crackdown on protesters, opposition leaders, and non-governmental organizations, especially those receiving foreign funding.

The Snow Revolution did not lead to immediate substantial political change in Russia. Putin was re-elected in 2012, and the United Russia party maintained its dominance. However, the movement had a lasting impact on the Russian political landscape. It exposed the growing divide between the government and a significant segment of the population, particularly among the urban, educated middle class. It also demonstrated a rising discontent with authoritarian governance and a growing awareness and engagement in political processes among the Russian public.

The Snow Revolution marked a significant moment in modern Russian history, highlighting the power and limitations of protest movements in challenging entrenched political systems.

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Project Lakhta is the internal name for the disinformation operation that Yevgeniy Prigozhin‘s Internet Research Agency is running to interfere in elections across the Western world, according to the Robert Mueller indictments relating to the Russian attacks on the 2016 election.

The op included/includes bots on social media, fake influencers, paid crisis actors, massive propaganda, financial fraud, old-fashioned spying, and more. There is no evidence this operation has ceased its activities — indeed what would be the incentive, following such Great Success??

In fact, prosecutions are still ongoing.

Project Lakhta and the Internet Research Agency: Russia's troll factory

History of Project Lakhta

Project Lakhta was a covert operation ordered by Russian president Vladimir Putin with the goal of interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The interference aimed to harm the campaign of Hillary Clinton, boost the candidacy of Donald Trump, and increase political and social discord in the United States. The Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian troll farm, created thousands of social media accounts to support radical political groups and promote events in support of Trump and against Clinton. The operation also involved computer hackers affiliated with the Russian military intelligence service infiltrating information systems of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign officials, then publicly releasing the stolen files and emails. The U.S. intelligence community, the FBI, and the Senate and House Intelligence Committees conducted investigations into the matter. These investigations concluded that Russian interference was “sweeping and systematic” and “violated U.S. criminal law”, but there was insufficient evidence to bring any conspiracy or coordination charges against Trump or his associates (โ€‹1โ€‹).

Scale of Project Lakhta

In 2018 a Russian national, Elena Khusyaynova, was charged with being a key member of Project Lakhta. Khusyaynova served as the chief accountant of the operation and managed its financial aspects, including paying off Russian political activists posing as U.S. citizens, advertising on social media platforms, and promoting news postings on social networks. Between 2016 and 2018, Project Lakhta’s expenses exceeded $35 million and its operating budget was over $10 million. The operation allegedly involved the creation of thousands of fake social media accounts to aggravate political groups and create divides before the election. The charges were unsealed in Alexandria, Virginia, emphasizing that the complaint does not allege that Khusyaynova or the broader conspiracy had any effect on the outcome of an election. In response to these meddling efforts and a recent data breach, Facebook is reportedly seeking to acquire a major cybersecurity firm to enhance its security measures (โ€‹2โ€‹).

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Legal statute requiring those persons lobbying on behalf of a foreign government or other entity to register such with the U.S. government.

Folks like Mike Flynn and Jared Kushner ran afoul of this law during their time in the US government.

History of FARA

The Foreign Agents Registration Act, often abbreviated as FARA, is a United States law passed in 1938. The purpose of FARA is to ensure that the U.S. government and the people of the United States are informed about the source of information (propaganda) and the identity of people trying to influence U.S. public opinion, policy, and laws on behalf of foreign principals.

The Act requires every person who acts as an agent of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal. This includes activities, receipts, and disbursements in support of those activities. Disclosure of the required information facilitates evaluation by the government and the American people of the statements and activities of such persons.

The Act is administered and enforced by the FARA Unit of the National Security Division (NSD) of the United States Department of Justice.

FARA does not restrict publishing of materials or viewpoints; rather, it requires agents representing the interests of foreign powers to disclose their relationship with the foreign government and information about related activities and finances.

Originally, FARA was passed in 1938 in response to concerns about German propaganda agents in the United States in the years leading up to World War II, but its usage has evolved over time. The Act has been amended several times, most significantly in 1966 when its scope was narrowed to focus more specifically on agents working in a political context.

Non-compliance with FARA has become a more prominent issue in recent times, with several high-profile investigations and prosecutions related to the Act. The Act received significant media attention during and after the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, when it was invoked in investigations related to foreign interference in the election — particularly Russian election interference.

More on FARA

Learn more about FARA from the Department of Justice.

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Some of us have been boning up on this topic for about 6 years already, while others are just tuning in now based on the horrors of recent events. It can be overwhelming to come in cold, so here — don’t go it alone! Take this:

Putin’s war against the west

President Biden “declassified” an intelligence analysis many of us had arrived at some time ago: Russian president Vladimir Putin is a cruel revanchist leader who will stop at nothing to claw out a larger legacy before he dies. His goal is nothing less than reconstituting the former Soviet Union and restoring the “glory” of the Russian empire of yesteryear. And for some reason he thinks the world community is going to let him get away with his delusional fever dreams of conquest — as if fever dreams of Mongol domination are still de rigueur.

The attacks on the 2016 election and on the American Capitol in 2021 are related — both are Russian hybrid warfare operations. Russia also is the cold beating heart of the right-wing authoritarianism movement around the world, via financial, political, psychological, economic, and other means of government and regulatory capture.

Putin has hated democracy for a long time — since before the Berlin Wall fell where he was stationed in East Berlin as a young KGB agent, taking the news hard. Now, he has many fifth column confederates aiding and abetting him from within the United States — a number of them brazenly, and openly. It is getting harder and harder for those treasonous types to “hide out” in the folds of disinformation, misinformation, and plausible deniability. The play is being called — and everyone will need to decide if they’re for democracy or authoritarianism.

Further reading:

Media Resources

Twitter Lists

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Or capital vs. labor, oligarchs vs. plebes, plutocrats vs. proles, rich vs. poor — however you want to narrate it, the property vs. people struggle continues on in new and old ways, each and ere day.

Here in America, the plutocrats have devised many clever methods of hiding the class struggle behind a race war smokescreen, that is both real and manufactured — instigated, exacerbated, agitated by the likes of schlubby wife abusers like Sloppy Steve Bannon, wrinkly old Palpatines like Rupert Murdoch, and shady kleptocrats like Trump and Putin.

The United States has nursed an underground Confederacy slow burning for centuries, for sociopathic demagogues to tap into and rekindle for cheap and dangerous political power. Like The Terminator, racist and supremacist troglodytes seem always to reconstitute themselves into strange and twisted new forms, from slavery to the Black Codes to sharecropping to convict leasing to Jim Crow to Jim Crow 2.0 — the psychopaths want their homeland.

The political left loves people, and our extremists for the most part destroy capital or property that insurance companies will pay to make shiny and new again — unlike the right wing extremists who bomb federal buildings, killing hundreds of people and costing taxpayers’ money to replace.

Meanwhile, the right wing claims to be the righteous party for its extreme fixation on life before birth, yet its regulation-allergic capitalists destroy people and the natural world more broadly, from factory farming to deforestation, the destruction of habitats, strip-mining and other toxic extraction practices, and on into climate change itself. Being in fact the chief architects of manmade atmospheric devastation, they have managed to make themselves invisible from the deed by simply (wink wink!) denying it exists.

WWJD?!

Certainly, not anything the Republican Party is up to. Jesus would be sad.

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It’s not just here at home in the US that fascism seems to have taken root in the population. There are many burgeoning nationalist movements resurrecting right-wing populism around the world, and as per many experts’ warnings, right-wing authoritarianism is on the rise around the globe.

Many of the right-wing populist thatches that have sprung up are at least in part, seeds planted by Vladimir Putin in his quest for Russian revanchism against the West following the end (or so we thought…) of the Cold War. Rumoured to be the richest man in the world by far, the former KGB agent was working in East Germany when the Berlin Wall fell, and has been pursuing his Lost Cause grievance ever since.

Learn more:

The right-wing authoritarianism movement is global

Given how seemingly easy it is for Charles Koch to buy American elections as the 15th richest person in the world, imagine what someone far wealthier and less provincial could accomplish. Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France took campaign cash directly from The Kremlin, Viktor Orban’s Hungary is Vladimir Putin’s strongest ally in the EU, the Belarusian dictator is propped up by Putin, who still occupies Ukraine’s Crimea, and the UK’s Brexit campaign acted as the canary in the coalmine for later disgraceful invasions of other nations’ sovereignty — perhaps most notably, election interference in the 2016, 2018, and 2020 US elections.

As such, it would be foolish not to see what’s happening here in America as part of a broader wave of right-wing populism and authoritarian fever that is very dangerous. We need to find out a lot more information about how all these puzzle pieces fit together, and get to the bottom of the real conspiracy clearly going on — if we can find it through all these smokescreen conspiracy theories clogging the propaganda waves.

Here’s a list of some of the extreme right-wing parties on the rise around the globe:

CountryFlagPartyAbbreviation
Austria๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡นFreedom PartyFPO
Belgium๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ชFlemish BlockVB
Britain๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡งUK Independence PartyUKIP
Britain First
National Front
Czech RepublicFreedom and Direct DemocracySPD
Denmark๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐDanish People's PartyDPP
Finland๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎTrue Finns
France๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ทNational FrontFN
Germany๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ชAlternative for GermanyAfD
Patriotic Europeans Against Islamization of the WestPegida
Greece๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ทSyriza
Hungary๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡บMovement for a Better HungaryJobbik
Fidesz
Italy๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡นNorthern League
National Alliance
Japan๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ตNippon Kaigi
The Netherlands๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฑParty for FreedomPPV
Liveable Netherlands
Pim Fortuyn's ListLPF
Norway๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ดProgress Party
The Philippines๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ญ
Poland๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑLaw and Justice party
Portugal๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡นPopular Party
SerbiaSerbian Radical PartySRS
Spain๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ(Catalonian secession)
Sweden๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ชSweden Democrats
Switzerland๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญSwiss People's PartySVP
United States๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธRepublican PartyGOP
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Then-candidate Trump signed a letter of intent to move forward with this project in 2015, while at the same time denying its existence publicly, repeatedly. Jan 2016: Michael Cohen speaks with Dmitry Peskov, Russian government press secretary, about the project. There is no way this would have occurred without the blessing, or instruction, of Vladimir Putin.

Meanwhile, everyone in the Trump campaign lied, repeatedly and inexplicably, about their numerous contacts with Russia.

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Did Russia hack the 2016 US election? Most certainly. The FBI, CIA, and entire intelligence community is in agreement on this point. Russian information warfare has been infamous the world over for decades — with a recent flare up starting with the Brexit vote as an obvious canary in a larger coalmine, and extending to the proliferation of right-wing movements around the world: particularly in Eastern Europe on Putin’s doorstep.

The following list is an attempt to demystify the language surrounding Russian interference in the election of Donald Trump, and Vladimir Putin’s efforts to undermine the Western order — in retaliation for the fall of the Soviet Union which happened under his watch as a young KGB agent stationed in Dresden, Germany.

See also: the RussiaGate Bestiary which lists the individuals involved in the Russian 2016 election interference investigation of Trump campaign conspiracy and fraud. Please note: both of these resources are works in progress and are being updated frequently.

TermDefinition
4chanA notorious internet message board with an unruly culture capable of trolling, pranks, and crimes.
8chanIf 4chan isn't raw and lawless enough for you, try the even more right-wing "free speech"-haven 8chan, which is notorious for incubating a large swath of the Gamergate culture.
The ActLas Vegas nightclub in the Palazzo, owned by Sheldon Adelson, under surveillance by the Nevada Gaming Control Board for obscene performances. Site of the Miss USA pageant party attended by Trump and the Agalarov's in June 2013.
active measuresinformation warfare aimed at undermining the West
Air Force OneThe U.S. presidential plane.
AMS PanelThe GRU's "nerve center" through which they monitored the middle servers that monitored the DNC and DCCC networks. Housed on a leased computer located in Arizona.
art critic in civilian clothing"joke" used by the KGB to refer to themselves while informing on dissidents under Soviet rule
attorney work product
backdoora method, often secret, of bypassing regular login authentication or encryption of a computer or server
Bakucapital of Azerbaijan
banana republicpolitically unstable countries whose economies are monocultures controlled by an oligarchy; puppet states
Bank Secrecy ActLegal statute requiring persons managing funds in excess of $10,000 in foreign banks disclose said accounts to the US Treasury.
bespredel"limitless and total lack of accountability of the elite oligarchs"
blind trustA financial trust in which the beneficiaries have no access to the holdings of the trust, or any knowledge of its investments and contents
Bolotnaya SquareThe square was the site of the biggest protests in Russia since the Soviet era, in December 2011
BolshevikThe majority faction within the Marxist revolutionary party led by Vladimir Lenin to power in Russia during the October Revolution of 1917, eventually becoming the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
bolt holeA type of retreat or refuge for those in the survivalist subculture, to be absconded to in case of disaster or apocalypse.
BNDGerman foreign intelligence agency
bug-out location (BOL)Another name for a bolt hole or survivalist refuge location.
CalexitMovement to split the state of Californnia into East and West states
capital flightRefers to the massive ongoing exodus of both legitimate and illegitimate funds of Russian oligarchs and their state cronies to "safe havens" in foreign banks and offshore accounts outside of Russia
28 C.F.R. 600.8(c)"at the conclusion of the Special Counsel's work, he...shall provide the Attorney General a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions the Special Counsel reached"
Charter 77Informal Czech resistance movement against the communist regime, named after a document that was deemed a political crime to distribute.
ChekismLoyalty to the concept of an unbroken chain of Russian security services, all the way from Lenin's Cheka to the KGB to the FSB
Chronicle of Current EventsSoviet dissident periodical (samizdat) from 1968 to the early 1980s that reported on the human rights violations in the Soviet Union
Cold War
Color Revolutions
computational propaganda
cooperating witness
CPACConservative Political Action Conference
CPSUCommunist Party of the Soviet Union
Crimeaterritory in eastern Ukraine invaded and "annexed" by Putin in 2014; unrecognized and condemned by the international community
criminal investigation
Crocus City Hall7000-seat theater complex in Moscow built by Aras Agalarov; site of the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow
Cuban Missile Crisis
cut out
cyberspies
cyberwarfare
Cyprus
DACA
dachacountry estate
Dark Web
data transfer
deep stateNetworks of opposition within governments who undermine the official regime
demoshizashort for โ€˜democratic schizophrenicsโ€™
deposition
dรฉtentestrategy of easing geopolitical tensions between nations; used in particular to describe attempts to "cool off" antagonism during the Cold War
dezinformatsiyaRussian information warfare
diaspora
directoriesThe file folder organizational structure on your computer
disinformation
DIOGThe FBI's Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide
document theft
DonbasTerritory in eastern Ukraine where Russian aggression has resumed as of Jan 29, 2017 following two years of Minsk Two ceasefire agreement
Doomsday Clock
doxingresearching and broadcasting personally identifiable information about an individual
Dumathe lower house of the Federal Assembly, Russia's Parliament
Eastern Bloc
Echo MoskvyDemocratic radio station in Moscow seminal is thwarting the KGB-led coup against Gorbachev in 1991
encryption
"Eternal Rome"ideology positing Russia as a geopolitical bulwark of conservatism against a weak-kneed West (part of Alexander Dugin's reformulation of Eurasianism theory)
Evening Internetthe first blog in Russia, founded by Anton Nossik
executive privilege
exfiltrationThe removal or copying of data from one server to another without the knowledge of the owner
fake news
fallout shelter
false flagcovert operations designed to deceive by appearing as though they are carried out by other entities, groups, or nations than those who actually executed them
FAPSIOne of the agencies spun out from the former KGB to head Govt Comms & Info (modeled after the NSA) โ€” this division was instrumental in controlling the unfolding of the Russian internet
Federal AssemblyRussian Parliament
fifth column
fifth world warnon-linear war; the war of all against all
Financial Crimes Enforcement NEtwork (FinCEN)Department within the Treasury that handles and maiontains FBAR filings from US persons holding in excess of $10,000 in foreign banks.
FISA Court
FISA warrant
Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)Legal statute requiring those persons lobbying on behalf of a foreign government or other entity to register such with the U.S. government.
foreign bank account report (FBAR)Required disclosure to the US treasury by persons holding in excess of $10,000 in funds in foreign banks.
forensics
FreedomFestConservative evangelical event annually in Las Vegas
frozen conflict zonesterm for several unrecognized pseudo states within former Soviet territories who have broken away from the national government and are operating as Russian protectorates
FSBthe Russian Federal Security Service
GamerGate
Gazeta.ru
GazpromRussia's energy monopolgy and largest gas company
Georgia
Ghost StoriesFBI operation allowing a sleeper cell of 10 KGB spies to operate in the U.S. for 10 years, to reverse engineer their methods. At the end of the sting, FBI Director Robert Mueller rounded them all up and expelled them from the country.
glasnost"increased government transparency" or openness โ€” a slogan employed by Mikhail Gorbachev, Soviet leader in the 1980s
Glavplakat
"global cabal"euphemism in far-right Russian discourse to refer to a perceived "Jewish conspiracy" behind the international order of institutions like NATO and the EU
globalization
Grand Jury16 to 23 people impaneled to hear evidence from a legal prosecution, and decide if said prosecution has a caseworthy set of evidence to bring charges.
Grenadines
hashtag
Helsinki Accords
honeypot
hybrid warfare
IC (Intelligence Community)
iMessageApple's version of SMS
information warfare
interlocuter
IRC
IskraThe main Bolshevik newspaper in the early 20th century
Jacksonโ€“Vanik amendment to the Trade Act of 1974
kakistocracy
keyloggingTechnique that enabled the GRU to record passwords, internal communications, banking info, and sensitive personal info from compromised DCCC and DNC employees
KGBThe Soviet secret service, renowned for ruthlessness and duplicity
kleptocracyform of government in which the leaders harbor organized crime rings and often participate in or lead them; the police, military, civil government, and other governmental agencies may routinely participate in illicit activities and enterprises.
KommersantLong-respected business newspaper purchased by pro-Kremlin oligarch Alisher Usmanov
kompromatcompromising material on a head of state or other important figure; typically used for blackmail purposes
KomsomolLeninist Youth League organization for Communists aged 14 to 28 in the late 80s & early 90s
The Kremlin
Kuchinothe oldest top-secret research facility of the KGB, 12 miles east of Moscow
Kurchatov InstitutePreeminent Soviet nuclear research facility still in operation today in the far north of Moscow
Latvia
Lenta.ru
liberalismPolitical and ethical framework based on individual liberty via human rights and equal protection
Logan Act
lords on the boards
Mafia stateA systematic corruption of government by organized crime syndicates.
Magnitsky Act
Maidan revolutionStudent protests that ousted the Ukranian President Viktor Yanukovych, that started Nov 21, 2013.
malware
Marxism
maskirovkawar of deception and concealment
Menatep
Menshevik
middle serversIntermediary sets of servers used by the GRU to communicate with their malware implants in infected U.S. computers and networks -- for an arm's length, plausible deniability strategy
MimikatzPiece of malware whose function is a hacker credential harvesting tool
Minsk TwoColloquial name of the 2015 ceasefire agreement between Russia & Ukraine following the annexation of Crimea
Mitrokhin Archive
Mokhovaya Squarewell-known landmark in front of the Kremlin
MSK-IXThe main Internet exchange point in Russia
MVDMinistry of Internal Affairs; supervises all police, prisons, and "public order militias"
nationalism
National Prayer Breakfast
neutralize
Never-Trump
Newsru.com
NKVDa forerunner to the KGB under Stalin
non-linear warfare
NotPetya
novichokmilitary-grade nerve agent developed by Russia and used in the poisoning of former FSB agent turned Putin critic Andrei Skripal and his daughter in Lonson in March, 2018
Novorossiaregion of eastern Ukraine occupied by Russian separatists
October Revolutionthe Nov 7, 1917 Bolshevik revolution and armed overthrow of the government, leading to the creation of the USSR
October Surprise
oligarchy
one-party state
open source intelligence
operating system
operatives
opposhort form of opposition research
opposition research
OSINTopen source intelligence
OstankinoRussia's TV network
Ozero Cooperative
perestroikapolicy of restructuring or rebuilding the Soviet government, employed by Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980s
plausible deniability
plea deal
plead the Fifth
Plovdiv, BulgariaSafe "bolt hole" identified for Eastern European hackers paid by Trump and the Kremlin if things went south
ponyatiyaan unwritten understanding about how things must be done
populism
postmodernism
"post office boxes"Secret Soviet military and security research facilities, known only to the public by their P.O. Box number
post-truth
power grid intrusions
Prague, Czech Republic
proizvolRussian word for "arbitrariness"
Project LakhtaInternal name for the operation that Prigozhin's IRA was running to interfere in elections across the Western world, according to the Mueller indictments.
Project Ripon
propaganda
provokatsiya
rar.exeA hacker tool used to compile and compress materials for exfiltration to GRU servers from the DNC and DCCC networks
RedditAmerican social network inhabited by numerous denizens of the alt-Right and hosting notoriously grotesque subreddits.
refuseniksTerm given during the Soviet era, particularly under Stalin, for Jews who had been denied permission to emigrate
reiding
RelcomOne of the first private companies or "collectives" formed under Gorbachev's glasnost reforms, it brokered the first proto-Internet within the Soviet Union and first connection to the outside world โ€” playing a key role in thwarting the attempted coup against Gorbachev by the KGB in August, 1991
rent-a-peer
retweetWhen a Twitter user amplifies the tweet of another, by "retweeting" it out to her or his network
Rodinaextreme nationalist party in Russia c. 2003 that hinted at ethnic cleansing; The Guardian reported it had actually been set up as a prop by Putin & cronies, to draw votes away from the other far-right Communist Party
RosatomRussian company building Turkey's first nuclear plant
Rose RevolutionPeaceful protest-driven pro-Western transfer of power in the former Soviet state of Georgia in Nov 2003
RosneftRussia's state oil company
Rossiiskaia GazetaRussia's official government newspaper
RT.comstate-owned Russian news service
Rublevkabillionaire's row in Moscow
Russian Imperial Movementpart of the far-right coalition within Russia seeking to build an international consensus, this group advocates "Christian Orthodox imperial nationalism"
RussophobiaPopular hysteria against Russia and Russians perceived to be the case by Russia and Russians
samizdatin the Soviet era, the creation by hand and distribution of copies of literature and other material banned by the state
SberbankRussia's largest bank
SDNs (specially designated nationals)Individuals against whom secondary sanctions have been applied
The Seychelles
shadow profilesData that Facebook collects on people who are not members of Facebook, via association with their friends who are
shestidesiatniki"Sixties' Generation" in the Soviet Union, who shared a lot in common with the American New Left. Advocated for political reform.
Siemens AG
silovikiRussian term for those who have backgrounds and employment in security services, the military, and police; more specifically a reference to Putin's security cabal
Signal
sistemaRussian term to denote "how the government really works" (as opposed to via formal state institutions)
SJWSocial Justice Warriors, a term which has somehow been wielded as a pejorative by alt-righters and other radical right cadre, energing out of Gamergate culture.
SMSAka "texting"
Snow Revolutionpopular protests beginning in Moscow in 2011, demanding the reinstatement of free elections & the ability to form opposition parties
sockpuppet accountsFake social media accounts used by trolls for deceptive and covert actions, avoiding culpability for abuse, aggression, death threats, doxxing, and other criminal acts against targets.
SolidarityPolish workers' party confronting Communism in the late '80s
SORMSystem of Operative Search Measures โ€” the system in use by the FSB to eavesdrop on the Russian internet
South Stream pipeline Gazprom project through Balkans and Central Europe
"sovereign democracy"system in which democratic procedures are retained, but without any actual democratic freedoms; brainchild of Vladislav Surkov
sovereign wealth fund
spasitelniiRussian word for "redemptive"
spearphishingAn email designed to appear as if from a trusted source, to solicit information that allows the sender to gain access to an account or network, or installs malware that later enables the sender to gain access to an account or network
specialistsMoniker given to the IRA employees assigned to operate the social media accounts in the U.S., including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Tumblr.
SputnikRussian news wire proffering fake news
StasiNickname for the Ministry of State Security in East Germany during the Cold War
Steele dossier
stochastic terrorism
Stoleshnikov Lanepedestrian street in Moscow lined with designer boutiques
St. PetersburgLocation of the headquarters for the IRA, Internet Research Agency, aka Putin's troll farm, at 55 Savushkina Street.
Strana.ru
subpoena
SUP MediaRussia's largest blogging service via acquisition of LiveJournal from Six Apart
SVRRussian foreign intelligence service
swattinghoaxed reports to emergency services intended to provoke a SWAT team response at the target's home; a form of Internet-based attack used by Gamergate, the alt-Right, and other groups and individuals
tax returns
The ThawBrief period of reform under Nikita Khrushchev between 1956 and 1964, when Khrushchev takes over from Stalin and is replaced by Leonid Brezhnev
tradecraft
"translator project"
trial balloonInformation put out or leaked to the media to gauge public reaction.
Trump Tower MoscowThen-candidate Trump signed a letter of intent to move forward with this project in 2015, while at the same time denying its existence publicly, repeatedly.
truthiness
Turkish StreamProposed gas pipeline allowing Russia to extend its control over Turkey and European energy markets
Ukranian occupation
unmaskingIntelligence protocol redacting American identities from transcripts of foreign intercepts
USPER
Velvet Revolution
vertical of powerreference to the tightly controlled power cabal structure Putin has amassed around himself
vKontakteRussian social network; equivalent analog to Facebook
vlastpower
VPN
VTBRussia's largest commercial bank
wag the dog
watering holehacker attacks that infect entire websites
whataboutismClassic debate tactic of old Soviet apologists to deflect criticism of Soviet policy; whenever an American would levy a critique, the response would be, "What about the bad things America does?"
white knights
white nationalism
Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation
World National-Conservatism Movement (WNCM)umbrella term for Russia's movement to unite an international extreme far-right coalition
X-AgentMultifunction hacking tool that allowed Russian GRU Military Unit 26165 to log keystrokes, take screenshots, and gather other data about the infected computers
X-TunnelHacking tool creating an encrypted connection between the victim DCCC/DNC computers and the GRU-controlled computers to facilitate a large-scale data transfer
Yes CaliforniaMovement to secede from the US entirely, run by Marcus Ruiz Evans, Louis J. Marinelli
Yukos
zakaznews information that has been paid for by special interest
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We Americans thought it ended, anyhow — but we were wrong. The revanchism that in some sense was of high potential after the fall of the former Soviet Union indeed came to pass — and later to be accelerated by the rise of Vladimir Putin to power.

Along with that trajectory, a curious development path for the former Soviet state: mostly, a descent into organized crime at the highest echelons of government. In some sense, organized crime is the government.

Here’s a great #longread from the Guardian about the history of a modern-day mafia state.

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While we wring our hands in the United States over whether or not such a strategy is even conceivable, the erstwhile President of Russia has been running this playbook out in the open in Ukraine and Eastern Europe for some time. With help from Propagandist-in-Chief Vladislav Surkov, Putin has leveraged the open secrets about the psychology of crowds we learned in the late 19th and early 20th century to stir up emotional antagonisms within the political spectrum — to predictable results.

It’s no accident that fascism is on the march in America. The conditions have been brewing for some time, predominantly since the Conservative movement began breaking away more militantly from democratic principles and towards authoritarian philosophy (elite rule by force: preferably invisible force via economic hegemony for the middle and upper classes, and violent force / the carceral state for The Undesirables) in the late 1970s and 1980s. All Putin had to do was make use of available prevailing conditions and tools — the rise of social media in the 2000s counterintuitively blew a gaping wide security hole in the American persuasion landscape that Cold War Soviet operatives of the 1960s would scarcely have believed.

Today, as in parts of Europe between the world wars, the U.S. has partisan gridlock within The Establishment sector of politics; this exacerbates the impatience with and contempt for the status quo (aka the Liberal world order) that in some sense naturally congeals at the far right and far left margins of the political spectrum as a simple consequence of the Normal Distribution (the Median Voter Theorem captures this tendency quite succinctly). Under such conditions, an influence campaign like the one Russia wielded against the United States during the 2016 election season was tasked merely with tilting the playing field a little further — a task that platforms like Facebook and Twitter were in some sense fundamentally engineered to accomplish, in exchange for ad revenue.

New World Order? Be careful what we wish for

“Both Italian and German fascists had done their best to make democracy work badly. But the deadlock of liberal constitutions was not something the fascists alone had brought about. ‘The collapse of the Liberal state,’ says Roberto Vivarelli, ‘occurred independently of fascism.’ At the time it was tempting to see the malfunction of democratic government after 1918 as a systemic crisis marking the historic terminus of liberalism. Since the revival of constitutional democracy since World War II, it has seemed more plausible to see it as a circumstantial crisis growing out of the strains of World War I, a sudden enlargement of democracy, and the Bolshevik Revolution. However we interpret the deadlock of democratic government, no fascist movement is likely to reach office without it.”

— Robert O. Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism

100 years on, it feels like we’re back at the start.

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