Russian agents of influence – part 2. Media


This Article continues to investigate implementation and strengthening of Russian influence abroad, brought up to you in the article “Agents of influence — Part 1”.

Dmitry Khmelnitsky, a former soviet and currently German historian, architect and writer generalised and systemised operational structure of influence led by Moscow.

 “All influencers purposefully affect and aim on immense number of political, ethnic, social, cultural and professional societies. Their categorization, per se, is of particular interest to us. Russian intelligence conduct operations, bearing in mind this action plan, in all states around the world.

 …Without a peep after Putin filled Presidential office, his government rushed to make fundamental and extremely effective efforts to dominate independent media sources, covering events both in Russia and by Russian media abroad.

 The easiest and most justified way to achieve this goal was to purchase independent news sources e.g. newspapers, magazines and forums at the expense of entities and oligarchs who support Kremlin. The procedure was facilitated by the market conditions, due to which almost all foreign Russian media could hardly break even and were depended on sponsors.

 Recruiting owners of various mass-media, lead editors, and journalists was even easier than it`s expected to be. Obviously, it`s not easy to find a job for Russian journalists abroad and in case you recruit a biased lead editor there is no way other editors will ignore him or switch positions, as they all fight for a place under the sun.

 The oldest Russian newspaper in Europe «Russkaya Mysl» was shut down in 2003. It was bought by Russian oligarch Vladimir Yevtushenkov and rapidly refocused from the core of the faithful dissident movement into the Kremlin propaganda leaflet. In 2006 some priceless archives of «Russkaya Mysl» were exported to Moscow. Hence you can assume that in modern world there are almost no Russian media disloyal to the Kremlin. We stress that there are few exceptions, but these cases are rather rare.

Moscow facilitates production of new mass-media sources in addition to subordinating to itself already existing ones. An ordinary example is the German Russian-language portal «Golos Germanii», which publishes translations of addresses given by Kremlin agents of influence in Germany. All data there is presented as an unbiased position of the German press and politicians.

In order to supervise Russian media sources abroad a single organization, declared to be independent, was created in June 1999. It`s called the World Association of Russian Press (WARP). The First World Congress of the Russian Press was held in Moscow and Sochi to support and promote membership in WARP.

The official initiator of the congress was a federal state unitary enterprise the Information Telegraph Agency of Russia (ITAR-TASS). Vladimir Ignatenko isthe president of WARP, who simultaneously holds office the chairman of WARP`s Board of Directors and position of the General director of ITAR-TASS.  We kindly attract your attention to the fact that since 2012 he has been a member of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation. The other members of the board are senior government officials, including functionaries from the Ministry of Foreign Ministry and Rossotrudnichestvo. The Chairman of the Board of Trustees is Sergei Naryshkin. He is a former Chairman of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, and the Director of Foreign Intelligence Service in charge.

Members of the council are also government officials, even the deputy of the Foreign Affairs Minister. Absence of foreigners either in the board or the council stands out a mile. Although the organization should unite diverse foreign Russian press, it doesn`t. Not a single representative of the Russian press abroad was even appointed to governing bodies of the WARP, which, according to official figures, pooled efforts of more than 250 media resources from 86 world states.

 Growing in popularity congresses of the Russian media are held every year in different parts of the globe: New York (2000, 2018), Kyiv (2001, 2011), Berlin (2002), Baku (2003), Sofia (2004), Helsinki and Stockholm (2005), NurSultan (2006), Moscow (1999, 2008, 2015), Lucerne (2009), Tel Aviv (2010, 2017), Naples (2012), Minsk (2013, 2017), Shanghai (2014), Paris (2007, 2016).

The media «Russkaya Mysl» headed the meeting in Paris in 2007, unfortunately then the oldest press lost it`s dignity. The newspaper «Russkaja Germanya» was responsible for the Conference in Berlin in 2002, later the media received an Honorary Diploma on behalf of Government of the Russian Federation during a congress in Kyiv in 2011, along with Russian media from the Czech Republic, Republic of Lithuania, Hungary and Ireland.

In 2014, after the annexation of Crimea by Russia and it`s military occupation of Donbass, all foreign Moscow influencers abruptly reinforced their operation. The worse foreign policy situation Moscow hit upon, the more assets and effort are spent for propaganda and particularly informational impact on media consumers of the Russian made news abroad.

An evident result of increased number of activities was the establishment of the WARP fund in 2014. Its full name is the Cooperation Fund for Russian language media. The fund’s declared aim is development of cooperation with the Russian language foreign media aspired at creation of an unbiased image of Russia. The managers of the fund are the same as in the WARP, namely Ignatenko and Naryshkin. Deputy General Director of TASS Alexander Klein is an Executive Director of the fund. The newly set fund is legal source of subsidizing Russian media resources abroad.

The task to achieve total control over the foreign Russian media turned out not  complicated and rapid for Moscow. In order to subjugate some media with a total audience of millions, it required Russian to bribe ( recruit, employ) only two or three hundred people around the world. The annual congresses of the Russian media, which welcomes 200-300 participants, are both a decoy and a method of manipulation with workshops done by executors of propaganda orders.

 Russian agents of influence in Cyprus

 In conformity with various data sources, by the end of the 90`s, almost a dozen Russian language newspapers and magazines were published in Cyprus. The only source which didn`t become red is a printed version of «Vestnik Kipra» published once a month. The other survivor is a newspaper «Europa Cyprus» launched in 2007. If you carefully study the content of these media, it becomes clear that their messages are pro-Russian and pro-Putin.

There was no need to outbid the main Russian language newspaper in Cyprus, the «Vestnik Kipra», since the media by its own wish joined other foreign media resources loyal to the Kremlin. It`s not a secret that «Vestnik Kipra» is member of the World Association of Russian Press since 2002. That year Russian language media in Cyprus was for the first time represented at the organization’s main event, the Congress of the Russian language media. From the beginning of the `00s, the lead editor of the «Vestnik Kipra» Natalya Kardash hasn`t missed any congress of Russian agents abroad.

The WARP is vigilantly supervising articles published by media controlled by it, appraises every success of its members and cordially congratulates, and sometimes rewards them for masterpieces in the field of hybrid Kremlin misinformation.

«The lead chief of the «Vestnik Kipra», Natalia Kardash became a permanent member of the scientific council of the Cyprus Institute of Marketing. WARP congratulates Natalia and wishes good luck !!! «

Deriving from numerous complementary reviews of the WARP about Natalia Kardash and the «Vestnik Kipra» on the association’s website, long-standing and close cooperation brings bilateral satisfaction to both parties.

The «Vestnik Kipra» being an active member of the WARP has even an award presented by curators from Moscow. On October 12, 2016, the newspaper received a Certificate of Honor from the Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Medvedev, «for your great contribution to the preservation of the Russian language and culture, as well as consolidation of Russian compatriots abroad».

It may be a coincidence, but the President of Cyprus, Nikos Anastasiadis, gave his first interview in the print press (usually he speaks on television) to Russian language «Vestnik Kipra», indeed, he opted for this resource and later in the fall he received a letter of appreciation from the owners of the media.

Russian compatriots in Cyprus consolidate at mass events e.g. the Victory day held on May 9th, at Russian-Cypriot friendship festivals, at forums, exhibitions, holidays and conferences. Most of the major events for the Russian-speaking inhabitants of the island are organized by a group of companies ruled by the already known «Vestnik Kipra».

he Cyprus-Russian Festival is an annual large-scale event which Cypriot and Russian politicians, diplomats have an immense privilege to attend. The main plant of the event invariably sits in the Presidium.

The festival, de facto, is a massive propaganda campaign aimed at showing locals an attractive image of Russia that has nothing to do with reality. Well, at the same time, some psychological techniques of brainwashing are carried out by Russian speaking compatriots who had forgotten slightly all the drawbacks of life in a far sweet  homeland called Russia.

Another Russian language newspaper in Cyprus that supports fruitful cooperation with WARP and its founder ITAR TASS is «Europe Cyprus». Assuring his professionalism the lead editor received an award from of the KGB general (now the head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, Sergei Naryshkin). Who knows what work should be done in order to receive such an «honor» and receive an award from the KGB general.

Last year, the Congress of Russian Press was held in New York at the Sheraton Brooklyn Hotel. Notwithstanding heavily aggravated relations between the USA and Russia, holding a congress in America was an important strategic task for the Russian authorities. First of all it`s a win-win for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, which supervises and is a founder of the World Foundation for Cooperation with the Russian language foreign media. Just imagine successful gathering of several hundred of your agents on the territory of the main enemy. This is surely a powerful propaganda campaign designed to demonstrate its hidden capabilities.

«These days while newspaper is being prepared for publication, I’m not in Cyprus, but in the USA, tells her readers Natalya Kardash, lead editor of the «Vestnik Kipra». Here, in New York, the World Congress of Russian Media takes place. This is a special meeting: America hosts the 20th Anniversary Congress. I do like the concept of this event. Each year means a new country, new participants, new projects. Thanks to the Worldwide Association of Russian Press, I have visited many different countries, met dozens of gripping people, hundreds of colleagues working all over the world. Once a year people who share the same visions attend congress, they are publishers and editors-in-chief of Russian-language media outside the Russian Federation.»

Another side of the issue is also curious in respect of vigorous activity, including propaganda, led by residents with Cypriot citizenship, who represent the interests of another country not being a diplomatic agent. Such activities fall under the definition of a foreign agent. In our opinion, there is an urgent need for the Cypriot authorities to ponder over legislatively determining the status of such persons in Cyprus, following the example of the legislation of other developed countries.

The laws on foreign agents in developed states are aimed at eliminating the influence of foreign states on the policies of their country. The clear and precise red lines are introduced for foreign agents, and their financing is monitored by executive authorities. Particular attention should be paid to funding channels and the origin of the assets that agents of influence receive from abroad. Control over Russian agents in the European Union is a matter of national security for each state individually and for the entire Union as a whole.

But the scope of interests of the lead editor of CM is not limited to the scope of activities of a group of companies.

The Cyprus Daily News received data that the lead editor of the «Vestnik Kipra», Natalya Kardash is allegedly planning to take part in the parliamentary elections in Cyprus on behalf of a political party and expects fundamental support from Russian speaking compatriots with Cypriot citizenship.

All in all someone`s desire to engage in political activities is reasonable and completely lawful. However, due to the above-mentioned activities of Natalia Kardash done in the sole interest of the Russian authorities, everyone will at least have a question, whether there is a conflict of interest in this case. Whether her decision should be deemed as an intervention of a foreign agent in the political processes of Cyprus? If Kardash, nevertheless, becomes a MP, whether she will promote and defend the interests of Cyprus as a citizen of this state, or will she lobby interests of Moscow as she has Russian citizenship too?

What is Russia today? A rogue country, being under various sanctions imposed by the European Union and other non-EU democracies, inter alia for the annexation of Crimea and for waging cruel war in the Donbass. The Republic of Cyprus supported the introduction of these sanctions at the EU summit, where these sanctions were adopted unanimously. Russia has violated and continue to violate international agreements. Russia has a long-lasting dictatorship. In Russia it goes without saying that human rights are often breached. Russian authorities are getting deeper and deeper in corruption and crime. Moreover, a criminal is at the wheel in Russia. Russia is a criminal, aggressive state, waging wars against neighbors and intervenes in the affairs of other states. It does not have, de facto, obeyed laws and rules

Let`s get back to the subject matter of WARP and the Russian language press abroad.

The next Congress of the Russian-language press is to be held on October 24-28, 2019 in Turkish Kayseri, with a visit to Alanya and Ankara. Over 250 Russian language journalists from 85 countries are going to visit Turkey. Organizers stated that the forum will contribute to the development of Turkish-Russian relations, as well as the promotion of local resorts among Russians. The financial support to the Congress will be provided by the Foreign Ministries of Russia and Turkey.

We all really wonder if Natalya Kardash would accept an invitation to the congress being a citizen of Cyprus. Is there any way for a citizen of unrecognized by Turkey state to contribute to strengthening of Turkish-Russian relations? All in a good time.


DISCLAIMER: The English version is a translation of the original in Russian for information purposes only. All names, titles of organisations and governmental bodies are up-to-date and correctly translated into English. In case of a discrepancy, the Russian original will prevail. Source: Cyprus Daily News