How Russia prepares for the presidential elections-2018?

Author : Taras Volynets

Source : 112 Ukraine

Moscow's attempts to influence the presidential race in the US and France did not bring the expected results. But how about Germany?
11:20, 14 June 2017

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Interference into the electoral process of key geopolitical players is a very seductive thing. The victory of “your candidate” opens a wide range of possibilities, for example, such as lifting sanctions, dividing the world into spheres of influence or transforming the independence of the state into a pure formality. Russia guided the first two criteria in relation to the presidential campaign in the US in 2016. A recent NSA report confirmed that the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation purposely carried out cyber attacks against at least one software vendor for voting in the US, and sent out more than 100 phishing letters to the American election commissions a few days before the presidential election. Not surprisingly, the US responded to such Russia’s actions with investigation, initiated by the US intelligence committee in March this year.

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At the same time, it should be noted that the "Operational Group for Strategic Communications in the East" has already been operating in the EU since November 2016, its main task is to combat Russian propaganda. In addition, the Europeans, and especially the French, also experienced the attempts of the Russian Federation to influence the electoral process. It is about Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right party "National Front", supported by the Kremlin during the presidential campaign.

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Among the possible next Russian targets is Germany. "If the Social Democratic Party (SDP) joins the “political weight,” it can stop playing the role of a junior partner of the CDU / CSU, leaded by Angela Merkel, and create a new coalition in September 2017, uniting the "Left Party" and "Union 90 / Green," said Ukraine's ambassador to Germany Andrei Melnyk. Therefore, this would lead to a change in the chancellor. And there is no guarantee that in the event of the development of such a scenario, Angela Merkel's successor would take her tough policy towards Russia. Official Moscow might not like all these facts, and it is possible that at this stage, the Kremlin would use some informal contacts with the SDP or any other party.

In turn, Vladimir Putin is far away from these problems, because all are well aware that he would win the presidential elections in Russia in 2018. The culmination of the unquestionable necessity of Vladimir Vladimirovich's stay in power was the statement made in 2014 during a closed meeting with the participants of the Valdai international discussion club of the current chairman of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, Vyacheslav Volodin: "No Putin - no Russia."

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However, in order to avoid a "retaliatory strike", despite the resource base of the CIA and their partners in Europe, as well as creating an image of an external threat, Russia is taking measures "to prevent foreign interference in Russia's internal affairs." Parliamentary hearings on this issue have already taken place in the Federation Council under the leadership of its speaker Valentyna Matvienko.

In particular, it is envisaged that the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation would additionally receive the right of unscheduled inspections of non-profit organizations "if there is information about their failure to comply with the restrictions and prohibitions." Foreign financing of programs and organizations will be carried out only through the structural subdivisions of foreign organizations established in Russia. In addition, NGOs with foreign funding would be required to register their contracts and programs' goals of activities, the area of implementation and participants." At the same time, "if their activities are contrary to the interests of the state", they will be banned, stressed the Russian Prosecutor General Yuriy Chaika during the parliamentary hearings.

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In recent years, the Russian parliament has adopted a number of resonant initiatives aimed at combating "outside interference." In the summer of 2012, a law was adopted on NGOs-foreign agents (this status is received by organizations that have foreign funding and engage in "political activities"). Penalties for refusing to register with the Ministry of Justice led to the closure of a number of NGOs. As of June 5, 95 organizations were registered in the register of foreign agents of the Ministry of Justice of Russia.

At the end of December 2012, the law "On measures to influence individuals involved in violations of the rights and freedoms of Russian citizens" was passed. It prohibits US citizens adopting Russian orphans, and if they violate the rights of Russians, it deprives them of the right to enter the Russian Federation, their assets are arrested, and the activities of Russian legal entities under their control are suspended.

In the spring of 2015, a law on undesirable organizations was adopted, according to which, if the activities of a foreign NGO "threaten the foundations of the constitutional system of the Russian Federation, the country's defense capability or the security of the state," its Russian accounts and property must be blocked, and the organization's entry to Russia must be restricted.

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In July 2015, the Federation Council drafted its "patriotic stop-letter", which included 12 NGOs. The list itself had no legal force, but it was sent to the agencies to check organizations for "anti-Russian activity." At the same time, the stop-letter never replenished, and in November 2016, the senators took a "political pause" in its formation.

The measures taken by the representatives of Russia's political leadership show the desire to demonstrate not just complete loyalty to the president, but also the correspondence with the current patriotic trends. The theme of the image of the enemy and rallying against this rival would be used in the future presidential campaign, which would help to "strengthen the position" of Vladimir Putin. In addition, hopes for improving relations with world leaders, including with the presidents of the United States and France, were not justified, and this might be taken as their hostile attitudes towards Russia.

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In addition, in the near future, statements from FSB director Alexander Bortnikov and head of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Russia Sergei Naryshkin about the Russophobic course of the West, which would be aimed at further strengthening of the legislative responsibility for "anti-Russian activities," might appear.

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