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Browse resources on authoritarian sharp power and its effects on the integrity of institutions and globalized spaces.

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Source: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Publication Date: May 23, 2022

Expansion or Contraction? How Putin’s War in Ukraine Affects His Efforts in Africa

Authoritarian Country: Russia

Affected Region: Sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa, Central African Republic, Sudan, Mali

Author: Todd Prince

View Resource: Expansion or Contraction? How Putin’s War in Ukraine Affects His Efforts in Africa

The Kremlin’s goals in Africa included projecting itself as a great power, avoiding international isolation, eroding the luster of liberal democracy, and gaining access to strategic ports. But Russia’s drawn-out invasion of Ukraine risked undermining the Kremlin’s progress in Africa.

Source: Visegrad Insight

Publication Date: April 27, 2022

Russia’s Digital Battleground: Polish Society

Authoritarian Country: Russia

Affected Region: Europe, Ukraine, Poland

View Resource: Russia’s Digital Battleground: Polish Society

Immediately after Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the Polish online space was riddled with disinformation about fuel shortages, refugees, and Ukrainian statehood, among other themes. Disseminators of fake news adapted to real socio-political events in order to influence, fabricate, and even control them.

Source: Washington Post

Publication Date: April 20, 2022

He’s Pro-Russian, Anti-Zelensky and Rallying for Putin in West Africa

Authoritarian Country: Russia

Affected Region: Sub-Saharan Africa, Burkina Faso, Mali

Author: Danielle Paquette

View Resource: He’s Pro-Russian, Anti-Zelensky and Rallying for Putin in West Africa

Pro-Russian content surged in West Africa as Putin aimed to expand his country’s global influence and counter reputational damage during the war in Ukraine. Once sporadic and unsophisticated operations evolved to connect better with target audiences, especially in nations grappling with conflict.

Source: New York Times

Publication Date: April 19, 2022

He was a Penniless Donor to the Far Right. He Was Also a Russian Spy.

Authoritarian Country: Russia

Affected Region: Europe, Slovakia

Author: Andrew Higgins

View Resource: He was a Penniless Donor to the Far Right. He Was Also a Russian Spy.

An investigation in Slovakia exposed how the Kremlin sought to win influence and sow discord on Europe’s formerly communist eastern fringe by leveraging spies, paid helpers, far-right nationalists, and disinformation-spouting media.

Source: The Diplomat

Publication Date: April 15, 2022

The CCP’s Ukraine War Propaganda

Authoritarian Country: China, Russia

Affected Region: Global

Author: Sarah Cook

View Resource: The CCP’s Ukraine War Propaganda

Three tactics played an outsized role in the Chinese Communist Party’s campaign to shape public opinion about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: flagship state media echoing Russian state disinformation, manipulation of social media hashtags, and censorship of alternative viewpoints and information sources.

Source: Coda Story

Publication Date: March 31, 2022

TikTok Influencers are Dancing, Lip-Syncing, and Posing to Promote Russia’s War in Ukraine

Authoritarian Country: Russia

Affected Region: Europe, Ukraine, Global

Author: Mariam Kiparoidze

View Resource: TikTok Influencers are Dancing, Lip-Syncing, and Posing to Promote Russia’s War in Ukraine

Pro-Kremlin social media users spread propaganda and disinformation about the war in Ukraine on TikTok through commentary, dance challenges, and lip-syncing trends. TikTok restricted its services in Russia in March 2022, citing the country’s “anti-fake news” law.

Source: London School of Economics and Political Science

Publication Date: March 20, 2022

How Russia Is Pursuing State Capture in Africa

Authoritarian Country: Russia

Affected Region: Sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa, Central African Republic, Sudan, Mali

Author: Joseph Siegle

View Resource: How Russia Is Pursuing State Capture in Africa

Russia gained influence in Africa by capturing the allegiance of politically isolated leaders. In the process, Kremlin-linked individuals and companies gained access to natural resources and opaque contracts, as well as influence over the policies of the captured states.

Source: Associated Press

Publication Date: March 10, 2022

China Amplifies Unsupported Russian Claim of Ukraine Biolabs

Authoritarian Country: China, Russia

Affected Region: Europe, Ukraine, Global

Author: David Rising

View Resource: China Amplifies Unsupported Russian Claim of Ukraine Biolabs

Russia received a helping hand from the PRC in spreading unsubstantiated claims that the U.S. financed biological weapons labs in Ukraine. The partnership between the two authoritarian countries appeared aimed at muddying the waters of the rationale for Russia’s invasion.

Source: The Diplomat

Publication Date: February 21, 2022

China and Russia Want to Rule the Global Internet

Authoritarian Country: China, Russia

Affected Region: Global

Author: Charles Mok

View Resource: China and Russia Want to Rule the Global Internet

The governments of China and Russia, two countries with a history of censoring the internet, banning social media platforms, jailing dissidents, and launching misinformation campaigns, issued a joint statement affirming their support for the “equal rights of countries to regulate the world-wide web.”

Source: Foreign Policy

Publication Date: February 8, 2022

Russia Has Taken Over Spanish-Language Airwaves on Ukraine

Authoritarian Country: Russia

Affected Region: Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, Ukraine

Author: Jack Detsch

View Resource: Russia Has Taken Over Spanish-Language Airwaves on Ukraine

Russia’s state-owned media organizations unleashed a wave of Spanish-language disinformation to muddy support for Ukraine. In January 2022, government-owned outlets generated 1,600 posts referencing Ukraine, outpacing the outputs of Venezuelan paper El Nacional and U.S.-based outlets like Telemundo.

Source: Brookings Institution

Publication Date: January 19, 2022

How Middle Eastern Conflicts Are Playing Out on Social Media

Authoritarian Country: Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates

Affected Region: Middle East and North Africa, Israel, North America, United States, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Yemen

Author: Daniel L. Byman

View Resource: How Middle Eastern Conflicts Are Playing Out on Social Media

Social media campaigns are a regular tool of Middle Eastern governments, and also of governments like Russia seeking to influence the Middle East. In addition to intense regional rivalries, the lack of free media in many countries makes the region particularly vulnerable to foreign influence.

Source:

Publication Date: January 14, 2022

How Autocrats Undermine Media Freedom

Authoritarian Country: China, Russia

Affected Region: Global

Author: Edward Lucas

View Resource: How Autocrats Undermine Media Freedom

The technological revolution and the failure of free-market competition to protect factual reporting left news outlets increasingly vulnerable. Russia and China (with even greater resources) tempted cash-strapped news outlets with lucrative inserts and free newswire content with a pro-regime slant.

Source: Washington Post

Publication Date: January 9, 2022

Russian Political Action Man Sets Up Shop in Kabul to Win Deals for Moscow

Authoritarian Country: Russia

Affected Region: Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia-Pacific, Central African Republic, Libya, Sudan, Madagascar, Afghanistan

Author: Robyn Dixon

View Resource: Russian Political Action Man Sets Up Shop in Kabul to Win Deals for Moscow

Russian political influencer Maksim Shugalei’s efforts to promote the Kremlin’s interests in Afghanistan after the Taliban took over Kabul offered a window into how Russia’s foreign influence operations leverage private groups in an ongoing battle against Western ideas.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

Publication Date: December 20, 2021

The Kremlin Playbook 3

Authoritarian Country: Russia

Affected Region: Global

Author: Heather A. Conley, Donatienne Ruy

View Resource: The Kremlin Playbook 3

The Kremlin seeks to break societal consensus around the liberal democratic order and build support for Russia’s policy preferences by positioning itself as a defender of conservative values. Such “strategic conservatism” builds on and uses Russia’s existing propaganda and disinformation networks.

Source: Rest of World

Publication Date: November 23, 2021

Why Russia Is Using Facebook to Launch Disinformation Campaigns in Sudan

Authoritarian Country: Russia

Affected Region: Sub-Saharan Africa, Sudan

Author: Mohamed Suliman

View Resource: Why Russia Is Using Facebook to Launch Disinformation Campaigns in Sudan

Russia tapped the power of social media platforms to influence and sway public opinion in Sudan through disinformation campaigns. In 2019 and 2021, Facebook removed accounts and pages linked to Russia that posted about local news and events in Sudan and directly advocated for Russian interests.