Russian Embassy, Russia, Twitter discussed on Front Burner

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Automatic TRANSCRIPT

This is a CBC podcast. Hi, I'm Debbie. So at this point, we have a lot of evidence the Russian government has been messing and other people's elections. Of course, there was a two thousand sixteen US presidential race top US intelligence agencies. Have concluded that Russia interfered charges twelve Russian military officers by name the defense used a network of computers around the world. Russian meddling was a central theme. An unprecedented fake news inquiry that happened in London just yesterday who you can. Company knew about this activity at buying no ninety get there are two different pieces of parliamentarians from nine countries including Canada where present because it's not just the US. There was the French election the Brexit referendum and quite a few other races in Europe. There's even been finds that accounts linked to Russia heaven active here in Canada today on front burner could Russia half a Canadian election. And are we ready for that the ruse processes in place to turn a hacking campaign into a disinformation campaign? There is a very well oiled machine play here. And I think we're ignorant to that. Then we're gonna get into a lot of trouble. Hi, my name is Justin Ling. I'm a freelance journalist in Toronto. And I just wrote story for the walrus about the potential for Russian meddling in Canada this conversation in January two thousand seventeen you got a message on Twitter, and is from the press secretary of the Russian embassy in Ottawa. It's it's a story about Christian freelance grandfather, a very unflattering story better family history. Can you tell me about that message? So the message actually came from the official Russian embassy Twitter account this been happening for a while. I've actually become somewhat friends with the guy who I know runs the accounts career Kalinin and we'd go for beers. Okay. Usually just chatting I'm fascinated by Crain Russian politics. So he would just sit and kind of you know, shoot the breeze over a beer. He definitely had a bit of a pension for selling stories that I knew to be untrue. There was one circumstance where we're sitting around. And he's telling me how during the euro my Don protests in Kiev couple years ago. Because you know, the sniper that killed a number of people go. Yeah. I know you're talking about he goes, well that was actually one of the protesters. They made look like it was government forces production of the protesters. And I said, I know that's not true. I know for fact that that is a line that's been used by a number of Russian state broadcasters to discredit the protesters in Crain's new leaders pumped the blame solely on former President Yanukovych is security forces are cut a lonely. Figuring challenging that line. So I knew that was nonsense. So in the end, I knew that he was putting fake news from the very beginning. Nevertheless, really nice guy. So he sort sending me these messages saying take a look at this take a look at this. And it's a pretty complex set of research. There's a link to some archives LA the link to some archives Alberta. There's you know, Kapiti page something else and all together. But a guy named Michael show me back. Michael acquis, the editor in chief of you. Ukrainian, nationalist newspaper around the outside of war two. He stayed on editor in chief after the paper was effectively co opted and run by the Nazi regime. Now, the location of all this was muggle show. Mak worked in collaboration with the Nazis. Michael show me act is Christina freelance grandfather. Now, we had a bit of a back and forth on this. And I said, you know, I don't think this is a story. Even if it's true. I don't see how you can hold Christopher when accountable for whatever grandfather did. And the reality is the whole situation is quite complicated. You can certainly hold him at fault for staying on at that newspaper, but history's very complex Essy's the reality of it. And she hasn't necessarily been secretive about she actually co wrote a paper about her grandfather that tried to deal with that complex history. He said to me, wouldn't it be interesting? If somebody asked her about the press conference, and I said, maybe it's not going to be me still after you get that Twitter exchange. With this official at the Russian embassy, and you decide that this isn't a story for you. Like, it just doesn't meet the bar gas of public interest. What happens to that story in very short order it pops up online. So the number of outlets online that start publishing pretty pretty extrordinary pieces about Christa Freeland calling her family Nazi apologist Nazi collaborators saying that she tried to hide her family history. And all this extraordinary tales and a lot of them directly link her grandfather to her current policies regarding Ukraine, so suggesting that she is sympathetic or in collaboration with far-right militias and groups in Ukraine, which is wildly just untrue. It's no basis for saying that, but it became pretty clear that point you know, that was the goal from the beginning was to try to solely her reputation. But the fact is there was an attempt to weaponize information by the Russian embassy, and when these stories are. Popping up online. Where are they popping up? Are they popping up in the global mail or they're pumping in some pretty shady websites. One of them is run by a guy who has worked in Moscow for a number of years who's at virtually American aggressively. Pro Kremlin point of view, there's other outlets that are just known for peddling conspiracy theories and innuendo but everything from Chem trails to whether manipulation to nine eleven conspiracy theories so faster than promulgates online. But it doesn't quite break through the ice. And it doesn't quite get any sort of public consciousness until finally Bob five of the globe and mail and ask Christine Freeman about the story is it's kind of bouncing around online. He doesn't do it quite like the Russian embassy had wanted him to of course, recently. There has been a series of articles about you your maternal grandparents making accusations that he was an option. Operator in pro Russian websites. I like to get your view on do you see this as a disinformation campaign by the Russians to try to smear? You discredit you which is a fair question that it is. Public knowledge that there have been efforts. As a US intelligence forces have said by Russia to destabilise US political system. I think that Canadians and indeed other Westcountry should be prepared for similar efforts to be directed at after he asked that question that story was absolutely everywhere. In the end, I can only imagine that Carrillo in the Russian embassy was there laughing to himself because it didn't quite get there. I think in the way that he would have hoped, but the story basically had desired effect. There was a conversation had about Christopher Nolan whether or not her grandfather was the defacto Nazi or non and a lot of those conspiracy theories about her being sympathetic to and do semitic or far, right or extremist groups in Ukraine started happening. Maybe not a very high level. Maybe not go in male. But there is a lot of websites, and there's a lot of discussion boards in Twitter accounts and Facebook groups in you name it which started talking about Christopher Linda's champ. Ian of Neo Nazi extremism and Ukraine, which is again completely baseless. There's no evidence for this. I've seen stories online that suggests she's approved sales of automatic weapons to these groups or that she's authorized training for these groups. There is no evidence of that. If anything the evidence, we have is that they've deliberately excluded these groups they've deliberately made sure that you know, far right extremists. Do not get any funding or training for the Canadian government. Nevertheless, this idea has still managed to manifest itself online. And so this starts with a very small group of websites, then it makes its way into mainstream media, and then it gets picked up by this other constellation met work of websites as you just explained started soon his back and forth happening in the media between you all beds, and let us the editor Neo pundits going back and forth. Saying will, you know, this is a perfectly fine thing to discuss, you know, maybe we should have a conversation about whether or not you family's history is is pretty bad or not which to some degree. I suppose is fine. But we also have to recognize where it came from. We can't just cover our. And pretend like Russia had nothing to do with this. Can

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