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Russia’s Last appeal to US Voters: Russia has no intention of interfering in America’s Presidential Elections

The hope is that Trump will continue to "sow chaos" in the U.S. political system, distracting Washington elites while Moscow defends its own interests

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FILE - A woman wears a shirt reading "Trump Putin '16" while waiting for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to speak at a campaign event at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, N.H., Feb. 7, 2016. VOA
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Moscow, November 8, 2016: As the U.S. presidential campaign winds down to its final hours, Kremlin presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov issued Russia’s own last appeal to US voters: Russia has no intention of interfering in America’s elections.

Never mind White House charges of Kremlin hacking of Democratic Party computers. Never mind the Wikileaks release of Clinton campaign emails that US intelligence says come from Russia’s secret services. And never mind a relentlessly partisan Russian state media campaign that has promoted one candidate over another – both at home and abroad.

In a year where Russia has taken center stage role in America’s elections, the Kremlin spokesman dismissed interest in any possible Russian subterfuge as simply “absurd.”

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“[The Americans] have enough problems without us,” said Peskov.

Welcome to the next phase of the Kremlin’s take on America’s elections:

Whoever the victor, the outcome will show how broken and corrupt the American democracy has become.

And the Kremlin is preparing.

In the run up to election day, Russian state television is warning of ‘dead souls’ rising from the grave to vote (for Clinton); ‘carousel’ voting in the inner cities (for Clinton), decrepit American election infrastructure prone to manipulation (by Clinton); and suggesting the will of American voters (for Trump) will be subverted by the U.S. electoral college delegates (for Clinton).

Dmitry Kiselev, anchor of the weekly Vesti Nedeli (News of the Week), whose nationally televised program has pushed conspiracies surrounding the American vote for months, predicted nothing short of a stolen election (by Clinton).

“After these elections, the U.S. may find its addressing itself with the same phrase that it awards others: that the U.S. elections were not transparent, were conducted without real competition, and included mass falsifications and government abuse.”

“They cannot” concluded Kiselev, “be considered free or democratic.”

The message, says Vladimir Frolov, a foreign policy analyst and columnist with The Moscow Times, is clear.

“The intent is to discredit the system,” he told VOA. “So-called American democracy stinks. It’s a circus and nothing to envy,” said Frolov.

FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin listens during a meeting in the Kremlin, in Moscow, Russia, July 26, 2016. VOA
FILE – Russian President Vladimir Putin listens during a meeting in the Kremlin, in Moscow, Russia, July 26, 2016. VOA

Kremlin favorite?

Even to casual Russia observers, the Kremlin’s passive preference for a Donald Trump presidency has been apparent, if not understandable, throughout the election season.

Trump’s positions on key issues of the day – from Syria, to Ukraine, to NATO’s expansion into Eastern Europe – dovetail with Russia’s own declared interests. Clinton campaign charges that Trump is colluding with the Russian authorities notwithstanding, FBI-led investigations into the issue have found no proof.

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That, said Frolov, makes little difference from the Kremlin’s point of view. “What’s not to like?” he asked.

By contrast, state media has relentlessly embraced far-ranging conspiracies surrounding Hillary Clinton’s campaign: Mrs. Clinton is sick and ailing; she is corrupt and facing certain indictment or prison; and she is beholden to nefarious dark forces, including radical terrorist groups.

Most importantly, Clinton is portrayed as virulently anti-Russian.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s antipathy to the Democratic Party nominee, in particular, is well known. In 2011, he accused Clinton, then U.S. Secretary of State, of “giving the signal” to thousands of Russians who protested rigged elections during the country’s parliamentary elections.

Polls reflect the pileup of negative coverage since.

Over a third of Russians believe a Trump presidency will bring an improvement in relations. By contrast, a majority think U.S.-Russian relations – already deeply troubled – will suffer more under a future Clinton administration. A separate poll showed nearly half of Russians think a direct war between the U.S. and Russia likely.

Amid the growing Russia controversy this election season, Putin denounced candidates playing “the Russia card.” Moscow, said Putin, was willing to work with either Trump or Clinton — provided the new occupant in the White House meets Russian interests halfway.

But Konstantin von Eggart, a long time analyst and host of the independent TV Rain channel’s coverage of the U.S. elections, says he finds the Kremlin’s overt tilt towards Donald Trump “bizarre.”

“I think Russia’s policy is a big blunder,” says von Eggart. “Even in the Soviet days the Politburo wasn’t influencing in the U.S. elections because they knew they’d have to work with whoever was the next American president.»

Yet von Eggart predicts the Kremlin will double down in the event of a Clinton win on November 8th. “They’ll blow out of proportion any irregularities to say the Trump was denied victory.”

The hope, he adds, is that Trump will continue to “sow chaos” in the U.S. political system, distracting Washington elites while Moscow defends its own interests.

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Meanwhile, foreign policy analyst Frolov argues the Kremlin’s focus on undermining the current U.S. campaign is merely “a shot across the bow” ahead of Russia’s own presidential elections – scheduled for 2018.

Vladimir Putin, in and out of power since 1999, has yet to declare himself a candidate. But Frolov suggested a future memo to Washington regarding the election day 2018 was already being drafted:

The message: “Who are you to judge?” (VOA)

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Cybercrimes cost businesses $600 billion globally: McAfee report

Cybercrime losses are greater in richer countries; however, the countries with the greatest losses are mid-tier nations that are digitised but not yet fully capable of cybersecurity, the report noted.

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Russia, North Korea and Iran are the most active in hacking financial institutions, while China is the most active in cyber espionage.
Russia, North Korea and Iran are the most active in hacking financial institutions, while China is the most active in cyber espionage. Wikimedia Commons

Cybercrimes have cost businesses close to $600 billion globally — or 0.8% the global GDP — which is up from $445 billion reported three years back, a report said on Thursday.

The report by the global cybersecurity firm McAfee, prepared along with the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), said that over the last three years, cybercriminals have quickly adopted new technologies to ease the process of engaging in cybercrimes.

“Ransomware-as-a-Service Cloud providers efficiently scale attacks to target millions of systems, and attacks are automated to require minimal human involvement,” Steve Grobman, Chief Technology Officer for McAfee, said in a statement.

Also Read: Indian companies more prone to cyber attacks

“Add to these factors cryptocurrencies that ease rapid monetisation, while minimising the risk of arrest, and you must conclude that the $600 billion cybercrime figure reflects the extent to which our technological accomplishments have transformed the criminal economy as dramatically as they have every other portion of our economy,” he added.
The report, titled “Economic Impact of Cybercrime — No Slowing Down”, said that banks remain the favourite target for cybercriminals.

McAfee, Inc. is an American global computer security software company.
McAfee, Inc. is an American global computer security software company. Wikimedia Commons

Russia, North Korea and Iran are the most active in hacking financial institutions, while China is the most active in cyber espionage.

“Our research bore out the fact that Russia is the leader in cybercrime, reflecting the skill of its hacker community and its disdain for Western law enforcement,” said James Lewis, Senior Vice President at CSIS.

“North Korea is second in line, as the nation uses cryptocurrency theft to help fund its regime, and we’re now seeing an expanding number of cybercrime centres, including not only North Korea but also Brazil, India and Vietnam,” Lewis added.

Cybercrime losses are greater in richer countries; however, the countries with the greatest losses are mid-tier nations that are digitised but not yet fully capable of cybersecurity, the report noted. (IANS)