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Statement on Russian media publication of hacked II documents

Author(s):
Integrity Initiative

The Integrity Initiative

“The Integrity Initiative is a partnership of several independent institutions led by The Institute for Statecraft. This international public programme was set up in 2015 to counter disinformation and other forms of malign influence being conducted by states and sub-state actors seeking to interfere in democratic processes and to undermine public confidence in national political institutions. You will find details on the website (https://www.integrityinitiative.net/), and you can follow the programme on its Twitter account or on Facebook (both @InitIntegrity). 

The Institute for Statecraft is a not-for-profit charity dedicated to education in good governance and to enabling societies to adapt to a rapidly changing world. It conducts research, promotes models of best practice, runs programmes for societal development, and actively challenges threats to social harmony and democratic values. The Institute is financed primarily by grant support to its programmes.

For its first two years, the Integrity Initiative was funded by private individuals. Funding for 2017 and 2018 was provided by a grant from the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO). This reflects their appreciation of the importance of the threat, and a wish to support civil society programmes seeking to rebuild the ability of democratic societies to resist large scale, malicious disinformation and influence campaigns.

It is inevitable that a programme tackling disinformation in Europe finds itself spending much of its time addressing the activities of the Russian State, including those carried out through its intelligence services. The Kremlin has invested more operational thought, intent and resource in disinformation, in Europe and elsewhere in the democratic world, than any other single player. We note both the attempts by Russian state propaganda outlets to amplify the volume of this leak; and the suggestion by a major Anonymous-linked Twitter account that the Kremlin subverted the banner of Anonymous to disguise their responsibility for it.

It is of course a matter of deep regret that Integrity Initiative documents have been stolen and posted on line, still more so that, in breach of any defensible practice, Russian state propaganda outlets have published or re-published a large number of names and contact details. We have not yet had the chance to analyse all of the documents, so cannot say with confidence whether they are all genuine or whether they include doctored or false material. Although it is clear that much of the material was indeed on the Integrity Initiative or Institute systems, much of it is dated and was never used. In particular, many of the names published were on an internal list of experts in this field who had been considered as potential invitees to future cooperation. In the event, many were never contacted by the Integrity Initiative and did not contribute to it. Nor were these documents therefore included in any funding proposals. Not only did these individuals have nothing to do with the programme – they may not even have heard of us. We are of course trying to contact all named individuals for whom we have contact details to ensure that they are aware of what has happened.

We are currently engaging with all our network participants, international partners and national authorities as appropriate following this attack. We have been very heartened by the many messages of support that we have received over recent days, exhorting us to continue the vital work to safeguard democracy together. This is exactly what we plan to do, grateful for the confidence invested in us.”  

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