October 19, 2020

Russian president Vladimir Putin has recently issued a statement on “a comprehensive program of measures for restoring the Russia — U.S. cooperation in the field of international information security” where he suggests mutual “no-meddling” in inner affairs. A demonstrative, hypocritical statement, barely able to convince anybody of Russian best intentions — since the Kremlin has already launched propaganda campaign attempting to undermine trust to U.S. democratic institutions.

Not accidentally, in August and July, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and FBI pointed to Russia which, along with China and Iran, uses “covert and overt” tools to sway voters’ preferences on the eve of the presidential election. The mass media still play first fiddle in “influence campaigns” of the Kremlin. Since the case of meddling U.S. election 2016 flew into the charges against notorious Russian Concord company, the issue is probably not new. The candidate for the upcoming presidential election former Vice President Joe Biden is unwelcome person for the Kremlin to occupy the White House, as long as strengthening the U.S. positions abroad can undermine Russian “prospects” in Syria, Ukraine, Libya and other countries where the Kremlin attempts to maintain its influence by nourishing military conflicts.

At the height of the election campaign, the efforts of Russian propaganda are primarily targeted at questioning the U.S. electoral system and discrimination of mail-in voting. Russian media outlets widely spread unreasonable claim of president Donald Trump that mail ballots may be “manipulated”, focusing voter’s attention on the allegation that a fraud is a priori unavoidable; the results, whatever they will be, will be challenged in the Supreme Court. Given the fact that Donald Trump has an influence over the process (he can appoint conservative judge instead of former Associate Justice Ruth Ginsburg), Joe Biden is unlikely to win. The forecast, spread via Russian media, is based on dubious allegations, not facts, and exactly confirms conclusions drawn by intelligence services regarding Russian pursuit to delegitimise the results of the elections in the U.S. Russia also actively spreads the idea that if the results are not expected to be honest, the voting looses its sense. Been widely pushed, these ideas are aimed to discourage a citizen from the vote.

Russian media root the idea that if the results cannot be determined on the final day of the election, they are corrupted — notwithstanding the fact that the rules regulating making an estimate differ in each State — consequently, it is impossible to count the votes within a single day. And conversely, blitz result would definitely undermine legitimacy of the process.

[In June-July 2020, Russia held a referendum on the amendments to the constitution which have allowed Putin to remain in power for the next decade and beyond. Forbes, the Associated Press and New York Times reported on large propaganda campaign that preceded the referendum encouraging citizens to vote specifically in favor of the amendments. During the voting process, numerous law violations were registered, including those when a person was not allowed to vote as his/her personal data was already used by another individual]

Russia points to Joe Biden as a candidate interested in the elections to be rigged. Russian state media claim that Biden lacks the support of the voters and, for sure, will use U.S. Postal Service for fraud. The reason for spreading such a statements was clarified in the ODNI report: “Russia is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate former Vice President Biden and what it sees as an anti-Russia “establishment.” This is consistent with Moscow’s public criticism of him when he was Vice President for his role in the Obama Administration’s policies on Ukraine and its support for the anti-Putin opposition inside Russia.”

The allegations denigrating former Vice President of the U.S. are aimed to sow doubt regarding the legitimacy of the whole electoral process. Russia pushes the claim that whoever wins the election, the U.S. is unlikely to regain its credibility abroad. It gives the illusion of the absence of choice. The Kremlin is extremely not interested in strengthening U.S. influence in Europe and the Middle East, in reestablishing relations between the U.S. and China, which have worsened during the Tramp’s presidency. Destabilization that may follow the election will certainly contribute to Russia which will take advantage of uncertainty.

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