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Mon Nov 11, 2019, 11:14 AM

How Russia Meddles Abroad for Profit: Cash, Trolls and a Cult Leader (NYT)

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/11/world/africa/russia-madagascar-election.html

How Russia Meddles Abroad for Profit: Cash, Trolls and a Cult Leader
Madagascar has little obvious strategic value for the Kremlin or the global balance of power. But Russians were there during an election, offering bribes, spreading disinformation and recruiting an apocalyptic cult leader.
By Michael Schwirtz and Gaelle Borgia
Nov. 11, 2019, 12:01 a.m. ET

ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar — The Russians were hard to miss. They appeared suddenly last year in Madagascar’s traffic-snarled capital, carrying backpacks stuffed with cash and campaign swag decorated with the name of Madagascar’s president.

It was one of Russia’s most overt attempts at election interference to date. Working from their headquarters in a resort hotel, the Russians published their own newspaper in the local language and hired students to write fawning articles about the president to help him win another term. Skirting electoral laws, they bought airtime on television stations and blanketed the country with billboards.

They paid young people to attend rallies and journalists to cover them. They showed up with armed bodyguards at campaign offices to bribe challengers to drop out of the race to clear their candidate’s path.

At Madagascar’s election commission, officials were alarmed.

“We all recall what the Russians did in the United States during the election,” said Thierry Rakotonarivo, the commission’s vice president. “We were truly afraid.”

Of all the places for Russia to try to swing a presidential election, Madagascar is perhaps one of the least expected. The island nation off the coast of southeastern Africa is thousands of miles away from Moscow and has little obvious strategic value for the Kremlin or the global balance of power.

But two years after the Russians’ aggressive interference in the United States, here they were, determined to expand their clout and apply their special brand of election meddling to a distant political battleground.

The operation was approved by President Vladimir V. Putin and coordinated by some of the same figures who oversaw the disinformation around the 2016 American presidential election, according to dozens of interviews with officials in Madagascar, local operatives hired to take part in the Russian campaign and hundreds of pages of internal documents produced by the Russian operatives.


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Reply How Russia Meddles Abroad for Profit: Cash, Trolls and a Cult Leader (NYT) (Original post)
dalton99a Nov 11 OP
mr_lebowski Nov 11 #1
MFGsunny Nov 11 #2

Response to dalton99a (Original post)

Mon Nov 11, 2019, 12:58 PM

1. Probably just view it as 'practice' for the bigger/more important elections nt

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Response to dalton99a (Original post)

Mon Nov 11, 2019, 01:24 PM

2. Russian interest was retention of its chromium market.

Russian electoral "help" did whatever it had to do to attain its venal goal related to chromium, including switching sides on which candidate to support ......... same tactics for same grifting approach!

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