Thursday October 18, 2018

Former Soviet Dictator Josef Stalin’s Victims Still Being found 80 Years After The Great Terror in Russia

A group Memorial discovers unrecorded burial sites of the victims of the Great Purge

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November 12, 2016: The Great Purge or Great Terror are terms used to refer to the darkest periods of Russian history. Thousands were massacred in Russia under the suspicion of being enemies of the people of the Soviet Union.

The purge was inspired by the idea of eliminating dissenters and to fortify the authority of Josef Stalin in the Soviet Union. The prosecutions were majorly focused on eminent bureaucrats, military leaders and many other members of the Communist Party. It also affected many other sects of the society. The “fifth column” communities or the national minorities faced number of NKVD (Soviet Secret Police) operations. Most of the purges were explained as precautionary campaigns to eliminate the risk of espionage.

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Victims were accused of being anti-Soviet agitators taking part in sabotaging the country by conspiring against the state. These terrorized victims were reportedly tortured for confessions and many were executed by shooting them or sent to labor camps to work in the poorest conditions possible. Many perished due disease, starvation and exposure to very harsh work environments.

Nikolai Yezhov
Nikolai Yezhov. Wikimedia

Although The Purge was initiated by NKVD chief Genrikh Yagoda, it reached its epitome under the supervision of NKVD chief Nikolai Yezhov (September 1936-August 1938).

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Once perceived as an enemy, the fate of the victim was sealed. There are records of mass burial sites where the bodies were dumped. But even today, multiple burial grounds have been discovered which have no existence in the records. This shows that there may have been a lot more casualties than recorded.

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A group called ‘Memorial’ has started collecting evidence and records of the massacres in the 1990s. The group has been trying to document the massacres during this dark chapter of Russian history. The researchers at Memorial have been requesting for documents mentioning the locations of the mass burials and execution grounds but the FSB keeps denying the existence of any such documentation in its archives.

Every autumn, ceremonies are held to pay respect to the victims. Memorial has also launched a program called Last Address in which plaques are placed holding the identities and addresses of the victims of Stalin’s political repression.

– by Shivam Thaker of NewsGram. Twitter: @Shivam_Thaker

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Copyright 2016 NewsGram

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Twitter Releases Tweets Showing Attempts Of Influence On U.S. Politics From Foreign Countries

All of the accounts linked to the massive trove of tweets released by Twitter have been suspended or deleted.

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The Twitter logo is shown at its corporate headquarters in San Francisco, California. VOA

On Wednesday, Twitter released a collection of more than 10 million tweets related to thousands of accounts affiliated with Russia’s Internet Research Agency propaganda organization, as well as hundreds more troll accounts, including many based in Iran.

The data, analyzed and released in a report by The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, are made up of 3,841 accounts affiliated with the Russia-based Internet Research Agency, 770 other accounts potentially based in Iran as well as 10 million tweets and more than 2 million images, videos and other media.

Russian trolls targeting U.S. politics took on personas from both the left and the right. Their primary goal appears to have been to sow discord, rather than promote any particular side, presumably with a goal of weakening the United States, the report said.

DFRlab says the Russian trolls were often effective, drawing tens of thousands of retweets on certain posts including from celebrity commentators like conservative Ann Coulter.

Russia, Twitter
The Internet Research Agency building, dubbed the Russian troll factory, is seen at Savushkina Street in St. Petersburg, Russia. VOA

Some of the tweets posted:

“Judgement Day is here. Please vote #TrumpPence16 to save our great nation from destruction! #draintheswamp #TrumpForPresident,” said a fake Election Day tweet in 2016.

“Daily reminder: Trump still hasn’t imposed sanctions on Russia that were passed 4,193 in the House and 982 in the Senate. Shouldn’t that be grounds for impeachment?” said another tweet in March of this year.

Multiple goals

The Russian operation had multiple goals, including interfering in the U.S. presidential election, polarizing online communities, and weakening trust in American institutions, according to the DFRLab.

“The thing to understand is that the Russians were equal opportunity partisans,” Graham Brookie, one of the researchers behind the analysis, told VOA News. “There was a very specific focus on specific ideological communities and specific demographics.”

Twitter
The 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, speaks at an event hosted by the Atlantic Council in Washington. VOA

Following an initial push to prevent Hillary Clinton from being elected in 2016, the analysis identified a “second wave” of fake accounts, many of which were focused on infiltrating anti-Trump groups, especially those identified with the “Resistance” movement, exploiting sensitive issues such as race relations and gun violence. These often achieved greater impact than their conservative counterparts.

“Don’t ever tell me kneeling for the flag is disrespectful to our troops when Trump calls a sitting Senator “Pocahontas” in front of Native American war heroes,” tweeted an account posing as an African-American woman named “Luisa Haynes” under the handle @wokeluisa in November 2017. The tweet garnered more than 32,000 retweets and over 89,000 likes.

“They tried to inflame everybody, regardless of race, creed, politics or sexual orientation,” the Lab noted in its analysis. “On many occasions, they pushed both sides of divisive issues.”

Iran trolling

Iran’s trolling was primarily focused on promoting its own interests, including attacking regional rivals like Israel and Saudi Arabia.

However, Iran’s trolling was less effective than the Russian posts, with most tweets getting limited responses.

Twitter
Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on foreign influence operations and their use of social media on Capitol Hill. VOA

This was partially because of posting styles that were less inflammatory, according to the report.

“Few of the accounts showed distinctive personalities: They largely shared online articles,” according to the report. “As such, they were a poor fit for Twitter, where personal comment tends to resonate more strongly than website shares.” Generally, many troll posts were ineffective, and “their operations were washed away in the firehose of Twitter.”

All of the accounts linked to the massive trove of tweets released by Twitter have been suspended or deleted, and the analysis notes that overall activity from suspected Russian trolls fell this year after Twitter clampdowns in September and June 2017.

Also Read: Facebook Better Prepared To Defend Itself Against External Manipulation For The Elections

But, that does not mean political trolls do not still pose a threat.

“Identifying future foreign influence operations, and reducing their impact, will demand awareness and resilience from the activist communities targeted, not just the platforms and the open source community,” according to the report. (VOA)