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How to Make Human Rights Into Hybrid War Weapon

In October of 2018 the think tank “The Institute of Modern Russia” published its study “Hybrid Analytica: Pro-Kremlin Expert Propaganda in Moscow, Europe and the U.S.”. Aside from the valuable information on the influence of Russian propagandist machine on Western intellectuals, it has another important detail. The author of the study Kateryna Smagliy introduces a term of “hybrid analytica” — a tool of information war which Russia started to use well before the war on Donbass.

“Hybrid analytica” is: creation, development and spreading of different pseudo-academic narratives which blur the credibility of facts and destroy the value of public discussions. All in favor of Russia. One of the most beloved topics for Russian propaganda in the creation of “hybrid analityca” is a question of “human rights violations in Ukraine”.

Russian public activists on West

Much the same as the Agency of Internet Research (a “troll factory”) or PMC Wagner, Kremlin uses its proxy organizations to promote their narrative in Western academic and expert communities. These organizations may not be formally affiliated with Russian government, but often are funded through the “Russian world” fund, “Rossotrudnichestvo”. Gorchakov Fund, which gets their financing from Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation among others.

“Hybrid analytica of public activists” is not as successful as the promotion of Kremlin’s narrative of Ukraine as an arena of US and Russian Federation mutual confrontation, but thanks to the media it still has an important place. The most successful in this sphere organization is an “Institute for Democracy and Cooperation”, founded back in 2008, with offices in Paris and New York, the main field of activity for which became “a monitoring for human rights violations in Western countries”. Its creation in 2007 was proclaimed by Vladimir Putin himself, who called it to be “a Russian tool of influence in West”.

American office was headed by Andranik Migranyan, a professor of Moscow State Institute of International Relations, who re currently blames US in warmongering in Ukraine on a federal TV channels. Migranyan was a member of Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation, which, as you will see for yourself soon, is an integrating factor for most of Kremlin’s “public activists”. Paris office is headed by Natalya Narochnitskaya, a member of Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation and an official agent of Vladimir Putin on the 2012 presidential elections — who also happens to be the head of another well-known producer of “hybrid analytica”, “Foundation for Historical Outlook”. Until 2018 the Paris office was led by John Laughland — a British euro-skeptic, who described the Orange revolution back in 2014 as “protests of Lviv skinheads and drug addicts”, and stated that Viktor Yushchenko is friendly to neo-Nazis.

According to some documents which were published by WikiLeaks, US considered an Institute to be an attempt in destroying Western monopoly in questions of human rights, and to try and improve the image of Russia in the eyes of Americans. But in February 2014 it already staged events where the messages of “radical ultra-nationalist mayhem in Ukraine” were spread already, as well as the messages about potential civil war in Ukraine. In the same 2014 it was spreading the reports of human rights violations in Ukraine, written by public organizations located in Russian Federations. Perhaps, it was not very successful after all — the New York office was closed in 2015 citing (wait for it!) “the human rights situation in US improving”. Paris office doesn’t demonstrate any activity since 2017.

Russian Public Activists, and Where to Find Them

The situation with Russian and “Ukrainian Emigrant” public activists located in Russia is quite different one. They are very productive in the creation of hybrid analytica of human rights violation on Donbass and of political repressions from the Ukrainian regime.

One of the prominent ones would be a “Moscow Bureau of Human Rights”. It was created in 2002 and since headed by Aleksandr Brod. This person is nothing but a charade on public activist, and also is a member of Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation 2008 to 2012. In 2014 he approved on Russia’s actions in Crimea and on Donbass. And he did it in a very standard Kremlin words.

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“Ukraine had a military coup staged by the opposition forces, radicals, neo-Nazis and criminals. All the actions of so-called new government are illegitimate. Because of radicals, the blood of peaceful civilians is shed. The country is in chaos, there is a danger of genocide of Russians, our compatriots”, Aleksandr Brod claimed.

The activities of “Moscow Bureau of Human Rights” became openly anti-Ukrainian in the spring of 2014, when —after a moderate study of cases of anti-Semitism and xenophobia in Ukraine (dated November 2013 to March 2014) by Vyacheslav Likachev, a colleague of Aleksandr Brod, and later an author of studies of Freedom House of radicals in Ukraine — it started to mass produce a hybrid analytica about “human rights violations by Ukrainian regime”.

For example, in April 2014 the same Freedom House expert Vyacheslav Likachev prepared a report for “Moscow Bureau of Human Rights” about “the growing xenophobia and anti-Semitism on the territory of Ukraine”, which was presented by Aleksandr Brod during the Moscow—Tel Aviv video link. By the way, on November 20th, 2018, World Jewish Congress excluded Ukraine from its list of countries which have a risk of growing of anti-Semitic violence. And the law enforcers of Ukraine stated not once that the occasional desecration of synagogues and similar acts of provocation may be connected to the actions of Russian covert ops forces in Ukraine.

In August 2014 “Bureau” published a report with a self-speaking title “Ukraine: No Right to Survive (Mass violations of human rights and a massacre of civilians”). It constantly uses words “civil war”, and the international community is accused for “one-sided criticizing of Russia”. In future reports and articles like this were published on a regular basis, and the web site has a section with a similar hybrid analytica from other organizations, including all three “White Books on Human Rights Violations in Ukraine” from Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Among the other hybrid studies are several from the “Information Group on Crimes against the Person” (IGCP). The founder and director of this group is Alexander Dyukov, a historian and an author of books about “bloodthirsty Bandera fighters”, which collaborated with Nazi during the WWII in the solution of “Jewish question”. A blogger Anton Khodza mentioned the hack job nature of this organization — starting with half-meaningless title (which particular “person” do they try to protect from crimes against it?) which is probably result of Google translation from Russian, and up to the description of organization on its web site, copied from random news article of TASS agency.

The “Group” entered the human rights plane with their report “Mass human rights violations during the civil strife in Ukraine, February 22nd to March 22nd of 2014”. IN the conclusion the Security Service of Ukraine was compared to Soviet-era NKVD, and it was claimed that “scared with the events, the population of Crimea decided to live in another country”. Recently IGCP was noted because of unofficial event with “The Russian Peace Foundation” and the Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations, the topic was the repressions against Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine. The fact that the event was held during the 38th session of United Nations Human Rights Council, even though the event had no connection to United Nations, gave Russian media the opportunity to spread the fake news of “UN condemned the repressions against Ukrainian Orthodox Church”.

A similar actions are conducted by “The Foundation for the Study of Democracy” — in December 2014 it published a report “Military crimes of Ukrainian military: tortures and inhuman treatment of Donbass population”. This report analyzed (based on supposed testaments of those who were rescued from Ukrainian captivity) a “particular cases of using torture, inhuman or humiliating treatment”. In the early 2014 Foundation published a second report with the exact same title.

The head of this Foundation is Maksim Grigoryev — yet another member of Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation, an author of the books “Euromaydan” (with a cliché definition of it as an “anti-constitutional coup”) and “Ordinary fascism: a crimes of Ukrainian military (2014-2016)”, which was used as a basis for an exhibition in March 2016 with a same title, with the participation of Russian State Duma member Sergey Naryshkin.

“PolitRussia” also tried to exploit the topic of human rights, when in December 2015 they published a report “Tortures in Ukraine”. It was mentioned that in composing of report they were helped by “Union of political emigrants and political convicts of Ukraine” — an organization, which uses the word “Novorossya” even in its memorandum. One of its latest and most funny fakes would be a statement from the head of “Union” Larisa Shesler that according to the amount of consumed bread there’s only 24 million people of population left in Ukraine (the fake nature of these calculations were explained by a VoxCheck editor Elena Shkarpova).

A worth of notion in “PolitRussia” report was a comment by Evgeny Efimovich from Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group. When questioned about political repressions he said “we don’t have these, really”. Authors interpreted this into “Ukrainian human rights organization denied both existence of political prisoners and usage of tortures”.

The reports of organizations mentioned are reprinted by “Foundation of support and protection of rights of compatriots living abroad”, which was founded by Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and “Rossotrudnichestvo”. It was created in 2012 as an organization which aim is seemingly present in the title — a legal support for Russians living abroad. But the real activities of this Foundation is clear from a case with Nataliya Vitrenko organization “The Gift of Life”, which was subsidized by the Foundation with 2 million Russian rubles in April 2014, to conduct a propagandist activity and defamation of the Ukrainian government.

The Foundation itself did not publish any significant hybrid analytica which would exploit the topic of human rights in Ukraine, but it collaborates with such activist public organizations, perhaps acting as a middleman in transferring the funds from Russian government. Thus, the website of “Rossotrudnichestvo” in Ukraine states that “cooperation in the human rights and legal interests of compatriots” they and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation conduct via this “Foundation”.

Legal Help Structures

We should also mentioned another dimension of Russian quasi-governmental “public activity” — a formalization of narratives about human rights violation in the form of lawsuits, for filing and following of which some proxy organizations also created.

The Russian Peace Foundation” is one of such organizations. This is a successor a Soviet Peace Foundation created in 1961. Its head since 2002 is Leonid Slutsky — the very same whom a number of journalists accused in sexual harassment in February 2018. In March of 2014 “Foundation” (supported by the very same Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation) created the “Information and Consultation Center of International Legal Protection of Rights of Ukraine Citizens”. Contrary to previously mentioned organizations, which produce a hybrid analytica, this one is more specialized: its task from the moment of creation is “providing assistance to Ukrainian citizens who became victims of Kyiv regime crimes in protection of their rights and interests in the international courts”. In particular, it was involved in the filing of claims to European Court of Human Rights.

An association “Right against the Fascism” had a similar task. It was created in May 2014 “for better coordination of activity of Russian non-government organizations in the field of protection of rights on Ukrainian citizens”. It exists as a network of admissaries throughout the Russian Federation territories, which supposedly helped to file the claims representing the citizens of Ukraine in Ukrainian courts and European Court of Human Rights. It was created and leaded by Georgiy Fedorov — yet another member of Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation!

What Is All This For?

An attempts of Russia to push the narrative of Ukrainian crimes against human rights serve not only to defamation of our country, but to more practical purpose: to bury any accusation against Russia in tortures, murders and political repressions in the information noise. References in media to organizations which have “human rights” in their titles should add the weight to propaganda, because of involvement of supposedly independent experts.

As was explained already, a whole number of organizations work towards this goal, most of which are connected to Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation. Their heads and the members of the Chamber are in the expert pool of Kremlin-controlled media. For example, a publication by “Vzglyad” quoted three Kremlin “activists” at once:

It would be foolish to deny the fact that Ukraine indeed has some growing activity of right-wing national movement, as a result of Russian aggression. As would be to instantly dismiss any fact of human rights violation or the clashes around topics sensitive to a developing society. But when things come to systematic repression of people because of their position by Ukrainian government — which is something Kremlin “activists” try to prove for the last 5 years — one should know that he sees a clear case of Kremlin hybrid analytica.

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