Showing posts with label Russia-Nazi like. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Russia-Nazi like. Show all posts

December 9, 2018

New Internet Laws in Russia with The Help of US Tech Giants Spell Trouble to Anyone Who Dissents

A 2017 law regulating online activity and anonymous speech went into effect in Russia at the beginning of this month. 
The law “on information and information technology” stipulates what content search providers are legally allowed to show. Russia's Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor, known as the “censorship ministry”) already maintains a registry of banned websites, created in 2012. The list of banned sites range from online gambling to extremist material and information on the use of narcotics. Search engines are now prohibited from showing these sites in their search results. 
To facilitate the implementation of the registry, Russian agencies created the Federal State Information System to act as a bridge between the registry and search providers. These search providers are now legally mandated to connect to this system through an API so that banned websites will automatically be filtered out. Yandex, Russia's largest search engine has connected to the API, but Google has so far not compliedwith these new requirements, which may leave it subject to a petty fine (by Google's standards) of up to 700,000 rubles, or about USD $10,000.
The law also dictates when and how a user can anonymously use the internet, such as through VPN (Virtual Private Networks) software that allows users to mask the origin of their traffic through servers in other countries, thereby avoiding locally-based content restrictions and censorship.
Google has been censoring search results in Russia on the basis of local laws for quite some time. Links to popular Russian torrent sites disappeared over a year ago from both Yandex and Google as Roskomnadzor deemed the sites illegal. As RuNet Echo reported earlier, Google has also been accused of over-complying with censorship requests from the Russian government, such as removing YouTube videos posted by opposition figure Alexey Navalny, and most recently, blocking a controversial rapper’smusic video. 
Several years ago, Google moved some of its servers to Russia in accordance with laws compelling companies to store their data on Russian citizens on Russian soil. With some servers now in Russia, the authorities have a more direct means of forcing the company to comply with local law.
Users have long suggested using VPNs to go around these types of measures, but the law’s provisions took this into account as well: VPN providers must block the sites, or face being blocked themselves. But this may be easier said than done. The Russian government banned Telegram earlier this year, but the app is still up and running and being used all across Russia without a VPN. Similar attempts to block VPN services could meet limited success, due to their decentralized infrastructure. This leaves the threat of a fine as the most salient option at Roskomnador’s disposal against VPNs and search providers that do not connect to the new federal system.
While the proposed fine may seem paltry from the perspective of massive tech companies like Google, sources close to Russian tech operations have said that amendments are in the works to drastically increase fines. Rather than capping the fines at 700,000 rubles, the new rules allegedly peg the fines at 1% of the company’s earnings.
While regular internet users don’t have to worry about such excessive fines, they too could soon face other repercussions for anonymously using the internet. Roskomnadzor has spearheaded new rules that require messaging apps to identify users based on their mobile provider. This in effect ties a user’s phone number to their personal identity. 
Apps like Signal and Telegram pride themselves on allowing a user to communicate practically anonymously if they so wish. By obligating such apps to verify a user’s identity with their service provider, the Russian government is attempting to crack down on dissent and what they see as criminal activity. Telegram voluntarily registered with Roskomnadzor in 2017, which makes them liable under the new law. Signal does not keep servers in Russia and may run the risk of being banned there for non-compliance with the rule, but it also has a relatively small user base in Russia.
Aleksandr Zharov, head of Roskomnadzor, stated plainly:
The ability to communicate anonymously on messaging apps makes it difficult for law enforcement agencies to investigate crimes. The government’s current decree is a necessary step in creating a safe communication environment for both citizens and the state as a whole.  
In many instances, the ability to post content online anonymously is a major draw for users. Being able to express an opinion or expose injustices without using one's identity is now more important than ever, seeing as how people have been facing criminal chargers simply for posting memes.  
And the consequences of de-anonymizing a user have been seen in various scenarios. After last month’s suicide attack at an FSB (Federal Security Service, Russia's domestic intelligence agency) office, the administrator of an anonymous Telegram channel was arrested for spreading messages glorifying the attacker. It is unknown if Telegram cooperated with law enforcement to expose this user, but if messaging apps start to follow these new rules, more prosecutions can be expected along with an outright drop in dissenting voices online.
These new laws and rules, along with the plethora of other laws regulating the collection of online users’ data, make it difficult to use online platforms to voice discontent in Russia. At a time when both online and public spaces face increasing limitations on expression in Russia, further restrictions should worry Russians and non-Russians alike. Though individual users can take measures to protect their accounts, such as using two-factor verification, there is little they can do to protect themselves from backdoor transmission of their data to the authorities.

December 6, 2018

School Children's Drawings of LGBT in Russia Are Seized By Police

Schoolchildren’s drawings depicting same-sex couples have been seized by Russian police and checked to see if they propagate “non-traditional values”.
Photo: Some of the tolerance-themed posters /

Schoolchildren’s drawings depicting same-sex couples and rainbows have been seized by Russian police and checked by psychologists to see if they propagate “non-traditional values”, local news site URA reported on 29 November 2018.
The 17 drawings in question were made by fifth to eleventh grade students as part of a drawing competition with the theme of ‘world tolerance’ at school 115 in Yekaterinburg in east Russia.
URA reported on the exhibition on 28 November, saying 10 drawings had images of rainbows and one ninth grade student had made a poster depicting figures of two females and two males, titled ‘We are not given to choose appearance, orientation or race. We are all unique in our own way’.
Later that day, Russian police seized 17 drawings “for verification” and interviewed the school principal, who explained the drawing contest was part of the international day for tolerance.
City administration later told URA psychologists “conducted a preliminary analysis, during which they did not find elements in the drawings that propagate non-traditional values”.
On 3 December, URA reported the Ministry of Internal Affairs received a complaint that some of the children who drew the 17 posters had been threatened.
“In some of the publications that published news about this competition, there were very radical comments: some (commentators) called for the school to be burned, others wanted children, authors of drawings, and their parents to ‘burn in hell’ a representative of the resource center Alla Chikinda told URA.

September 13, 2018

Putin's Henchman from National Guard Wants a Duel with Putin's Critic Alexei Navalny

Is this 2018? Apparently not in Russia.
 Viktor Zolotov (Russia’s National Guard / Youtube)

The head of Russia’s National Guard has challenged opposition leader Alexei Navalny to a duel and promised to pound him into a ‘juicy steak’ as punishment for Navalny's series of videos exposing alleged corruption by Russia’s top government officials. 
In an Aug. 23 video investigation, Navalny alleged that leadership in the Russian National Guard had diverted millions of rubles from procurement contracts earmarked for food for soldiers. Viktor Zolotov, President Vladimir Putin’s former bodyguard, heads the National Guard. Navalny, meanwhile, is serving a 30-day sentence behind bars for a protest-related infraction. 
In a rare video address published on the National Guard’s YouTube page, Zolotov said Navalny had slandered the National Guard, and it wouldn’t be forgotten. 
“The officer corps aren’t allowed to let these things go,” said Zolotov. “For centuries, people slapped people in the face and challenged them to a duel.” 
Read More
Family of Russian National Guard Chief Owns Properties Worth $10M – Investigation
“I’m simply challenging you to combat,” Zolotov said in the video message. “I promise to turn you into a juicy pounded steak in a few minutes.” 
Zolotov likened Navalny to opposition figures like the deceased oligarch Boris Berezovsky and former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, calling them all “rotten, rusty and decaying.” 
“You are all running around the Baltics, meeting in secret to discuss how to rip our state into pieces,” he said.

March 31, 2018

On The Way As North Korea Russia Might Block YouTube, Instagram Because It Opposes Certain posts

Oleg Deripaska
Jason Alden / Bloomberg
(Bloomberg) — Russia may block access to YouTube and Instagram after billionaire Oleg Deripaska won a court injunction against videos and photographs that showed him and Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Prikhodko relaxing on a yacht with a woman described as an escort.
Deripaska won an order from Ust-Labinsk court in his native Krasnodar region ordering the removal of 14 Instagram posts and seven YouTube videos that breached his right to privacy, according to a spokeswoman for his Basic Element company. 
Anti-Kremlin campaigner Alexey Navalny said the order also threatens to block his website after he published an online film alleging that the videos and photographs posted by the woman, who calls herself Nastya Rybka, showed evidence of a corrupt relationship between the aluminum tycoon and the senior minister.
Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor included the materials on its register of blacklisted sites following the court order. Its press office declined immediate comment. Internet providers must block access to online services within days unless information declared illegal is deleted. 
[[[Navalny Links Kremlin to Trump Campaign Aide Paul Manafort Deripaska denied wrongdoing after Navalny published his video Feb. 8, calling it a ‘planned campaign‘ to damage his reputation. The injunction was granted Feb. 9. Navalny’s allegations ’should have been answered in a manly way, but we’ll stay within the law,‘ Prikhodko said, the RBC newspaper reported on Feb. 9]]]

Navalny, who was barred from running against Vladimir Putin in March’s presidential elections, has built a massive online following in Russia for investigations accusing government ministers and top officials of corruption. He inspired the largest anti-government protests since 2012 last year after releasing a video showing lavish estates allegedly belonging to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who denied the accusations.

Seeking removal

YouTube and Instagram may be blocked in Russia as early as Wednesday unless they comply with the order and remove the material, Vedomosti newspaper reported, citing the watchdog. Representatives of Facebook Inc., which owns Instagram, and YouTube’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., declined to comment.
Deripaska is seeking removal of only the 14 Instagram posts and seven YouTube videos, and not to block access to the two services entirely, the spokeswoman for Basic Element said in an email.
‘It’s impossible for internet providers to block certain pages on Instagram and YouTube,’ and they’ll have to block the services unless the material singled out by the watchdog is deleted, said Karen Kazaryan, chief analyst at the Russian Association for Electronic Communications, an internet lobby group. There’s also a ’high chance that Navalny may need to remove this information to avoid being blocked.‘
The action against his investigation is ’a brazen act of censorship," Navalny wrote on his website, which remained accessible on Monday. ‘I urge everyone to spread this video wherever you can.’
Billionaire Alisher Usmanov took to YouTube last year to post his own video responses to Navalny’s allegations that he donated real estate to a fund benefiting Medvedev, calling the anti-corruption campaigner a ‘loser‘ and saying ’I spit on you.’ Usmanov later won a defamation lawsuit, in which a court ordered Navalny to retract the allegations.

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December 26, 2017

Since US Packed and Went to Mar-a Lago-Britain Seems to be Picking Up Human Rights/LGBT /Russia

 People were proud of Johnson when he gave as good as he got in Moscow with his counter part

Gathered in the sumptuous, wood-panelled sitting room of the UK ambassador’s mansion in Moscow, overlooking the turrets of the Kremlin across the river, a group of human rights activists discussed their meeting with Boris Johnson.
The foreign secretary had invited them over to hear their stories of horrific abuses in Russia, promising to use his status to raise awareness and to do what he can to heap pressure on the Russian government.
The meeting on Friday, held behind closed doors, came toward the end of a whirlwind visit to Moscow – the first by a British foreign secretary in over five years – at a time when relations between the UK and Russia are at their worst since the Cold War.
"Mr Johnson was asking what could be done by him, by the UK side, to support Russian society," Galena Arapova, director of the Mass Media Defence Centre, told BuzzFeed News.
"It’s always a good question because when the relationship isn’t as friendly as it could be, and international partners have an active position and raise an issue, would that help or not? It might make the situation worse. Honestly, we don’t have an answer to this."
But the activists at least appeared to be glad he was trying to help. Johnson did not shy away from some hard truths on his whirlwind 24-hour visit, which was aimed at boosting cooperation between the UK and Russia on critical global issues such as North Korea’s nuclear threats and the Syrian civil war.
Whether his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov was in listening mode, however, is highly questionable. Lavrov is infamously obstinate and no-nonsense (he was once caught muttering"fucking morons" during a meeting with Saudi Arabian officials), and likes to be in control at all times, particularly on his own turf.
He did not appreciate Johnson correcting him at a joint press conference over suspected Russian interference in western elections – which led to an extraordinary public exchange – but privately, UK officials were thrilled that Johnson showed he would not be bullied and gave as good as he got. 
It was Johnson who insisted on making human rights a key part of the Moscow trip, asking his aides to schedule time with activists and a speech to university students outlining the economic benefits of freedom of expression.
"This is the worst human rights crisis we have seen in Russia’s contemporary history," Tania Lokshina from Human Rights Watch told us after the meeting.
Basic freedoms in Russia are being eroded: Gay men are being rounded up, tortured, and abducted in the southern Russian republic of Chechnya; journalists are being killed for writing about the abuses of the government; and Jehovah's Witnesses have been labelled an "extremist" organisation.
A spokesperson for the Russian LGBT Network, who declined to give their name, said 110 people had been evacuated from Chechnya as of Friday. "Violence towards LGBT people is still going on," they said.
"According to our evidence, the authorities that were involved in the LGBT purge are now threatening the families of the victims. I think the chance to speak about this with the foreign secretary is amazing; the more we raise this issue, the more we keep it in the spotlight, the more we pressure the Russian authorities to initiate an investigation."
Meanwhile, the Russian government has refused to acknowledge a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights in June that the Kremlin is encouraging anti-gay prejudice by adopting a law that bans gay "propaganda".
The law bans giving children any information about homosexuality, ramping up prejudice against LGBT people in Russia that is already deep-rooted and widespread. Lavrov has dismissed criticism over Russia’s treatment of gay people, however, saying in June: "On LGBT, we do not prosecute for this or that orientation."
Johnson did raise the issue of LGBT rights with Lavrov in their talks on Friday, but as expected, the Russian minister batted it away. Aides said Johnson was determined to raise awareness in other ways.
In his speech to Plekhanov University, in a hall packed full of Russian students, he spoke about the "freedom to live your life as you choose".
"We [in Britain] have just about the most diverse, open, welcoming culture that you will find anywhere in the planet," Johnson said. "We celebrate people’s choices about how to live their lives, including who to love and whomsoever they please to marry, a law that now permits same-sex marriage."
And he pressed the importance of a free media: "If you have a society where journalists are shot because they investigate the business dealings of the rich and powerful, then you will find countries that are less economically successful, less equal, and less attractive as places to invest."
He didn’t mention Russia by name, but then he didn’t have to. Some 357 journalists have been killed in Russia in the last 20 years, according to Mass Media Defence Centre director Arapova. And from one newspaper, Novaya Gazette, six have been killed in the last decade. Yet very few perpetrators are brought to justice.
"This creates a climate of impunity and a lot more problems than justice for one particular person," Arapova said. "It creates an atmosphere where others who don’t like criticism think OK, this is an easy, cheap, and quiet method to silence someone, because it won’t be investigated.” 
Earlier in the day, Johnson laid a bunch of red roses on Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge, where opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was assassinated in 2015 with four gunshots in the back. As deputy prime minister of Russia under Boris Yeltsin, Nemtsov was a key figure in pushing the country toward democracy and free markets, and a vehement critic of president Vladimir Putin.
His lawyer Vadim Prokhorov told Johnson that the real perpetrators had still not been brought to justice, and urged him to pile pressure on Putin to launch a proper investigation. It remains to be seen whether Johnson can actually affect change, but allies say he hopes his involvement will shine a far bigger spotlight on the abuses taking place on Europe’s doorstep.
"It’s really difficult to influence the Russian authorities," Arapova said. "These scandals concern all of us, but the population of Russia has two realities.
"One reality is seen by the people who are watching TV, who live in rural areas where there’s no position, and they see that everything is good, they see the federal propaganda state TV and they are quite happy with what’s going on in Russia because 'we are winning'.
"And the other group of people are getting information from the internet – and have a totally different understanding of what is going on in the country. They hear stories of human rights violations, they see it differently. Those realities don’t cross, it’s like we live in different countries.
"The tension in society is growing – but it’s not necessarily growing into something that will change the situation."
Emily Ashton
Emily Ashton

November 14, 2017

"I‘m going to live as I am, or I‘m going to die. Nothing else is possible" By 18yo Russian

 This is being done today!and the world just watches

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Bullied and beaten, analyzed and abused, Justin Romanov finally accepted his life in Russia was over. Being gay was a dance with death.

“I felt like I had two options: I‘m going to live as I am, or I‘m going to die. Nothing else is possible ... I cannot hide it. I cannot pretend to be straight,” he said.
Aged 18, he escaped to Canada, where he joined a crack team helping lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people flee from countries where homosexuality is banned or violently repressed.

Earlier this year he was involved in the Toronto-based group’s successful effort to bring to safety more than 30 Chechens, amid reports of mass arrests and torture of LGBT people in the deeply conservative Russian region.
As a volunteer for the group, Romanov helped them adapt to their new reality, assisting with accommodation, paperwork and bank accounts, as many did not speak English.

“I want to do as much as I can in my power to help other people, particularly from Russia,” Romanov, now 22, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a phone interview.  
Advocacy group Rainbow Railroad covertly brought the Chechens, most aged between 19 and 25, out of Russia through a network of safehouses after news of mass detention of LGBT people first emerged in April.

Most had to leave in haste, bringing with them nothing more than a backpack or what they were wearing, said Rainbow Railroad’s executive director, Kimahli Powell.
“Some people...had never left their home and all of a sudden were leaving for good, so they were pretty traumatized,” he said.

The Chechens were among more than 150 LGBT people that the group helped resettle in 2017.
This year was a record year for the group, named in homage to a 19th-century network of safe houses and secret paths used by slaves to escape bondage in the United States, said Powell.

It has so far received more than 1,000 requests for help, twice as many as in 2016.
The boom was fueled by Chechnya and anti-gay crackdowns in Azerbaijan, Egypt, and Indonesia, adding to its traditional work in hotspots such as Jamaica and Uganda, said Powell.
“Unfortunately there seems to be a wave of homophobic backlash,” he said during an interview in London.

Homosexuality is outlawed in more than 70 nations and punishable with death in eight, including Iran, Sudan, and Saudi Arabia, according to ILGA, an international LGBT rights group.
“Sometimes people are facing imminent danger and need to leave the country,” Powell said ahead of speaking at the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s annual two-day Trust Conference.

Rainbow Railroad helps them find the best way out, taking care of visas and travel, including a plane ticket.


Romanov knows what it means to leave everything behind.

Born in Ulyanovsk, a city 800 kilometers east of Moscow, he came out as gay at the age of 14 - meeting a chilling reception from the local community and his own family.

His father accused him of bringing shame to his house, while his aunt took him to a psychologist to be “cured”.

At school, he was beaten up and bullied.

Tired of the abuse, he wrote for help to his then-idol: Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The letter went unanswered but three months later his parents were called in by local police and told it was in their son’s best interest to keep his sexuality under wraps.

Homosexuality is not a crime in Russia but activists say homophobia is rife and a law banning the dissemination of information on LGBT issues to young people has fueled anti-gay abuse, discrimination, and violence.

The government says the legislation is solely designed “to defend morality and children’s health” and does not amount to a ban on homosexuality.

Russia ranked as the second worst country in Europe for LGBT people in a 2017 survey by ILGA.

By the time he turned 16, Romanov felt his hometown was no longer safe.

“When I walked on the street with my mum, random people would stop their car and call me ‘faggot’,” he said.

But leaving home and moving to the capital of Moscow brought no respite from the endless barrage of threats and violence.

Even walking down the street with his boyfriend gave bystanders enough reason to beat them until they drew blood.

The wake-up call came when a gay friend was attacked and died in front of him - Romanov knew the same fate awaited him.

Supported by his mother, who came to accept her son’s sexual orientation, Romanov fled to Canada in 2013.

“It felt like I died and went to heaven. I thought it wasn’t real,” he said, referring to his new life in Toronto.

“Everyone accepts me the way I am. No one cares if I‘m gay or straight,” he said.

He is now studying to become a human rights lawyer.

“I don’t want young Russian people ever to experience what I experienced,” he said.

By Umberto Bacchi and Lin Taylor

Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi and Lin Taylor @linnytayls, Editing by Lyndsay Griffiths. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit

November 6, 2017

Russia Has Been Targeting US Racial Divisions for Decades Before 2017


Black leaders have condemned the Russian efforts in the 2016 election cycle that apparently sought to divide African-Americans both from whites and from each other, but nothing about those efforts is new.
Russian and Soviet influence-mongers have spent decades pressing as hard as they can on the most painful areas of the American body politic, from the days of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to the current era of the Black Lives Matter movement. 
Some of the details about the latest chapter in the story have become clear, but much about it remains either unknown or under wraps. Americans may learn more when the House and Senate Intelligence Committees and a Senate Judiciary subcommittee convene a trio of hearings they've scheduled for Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 with three big technology platforms.
Facebook, Google and Twitter — which have said they'll send their top lawyers to testify — have discovered they sold ads to agents of influence as part of the Russian attack on the 2016 election. Agents also used the services to interfere in other ways, from amplifying controversy within the U.S. to organizing real-life events such as political rallies.
"We can't conclusively say these actions impacted the outcome of the election," Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said in an Oct. 10 statement. "But we can say that these ads caused harm and additional resentment to young people who unselfishly fight for justice and equality for African Americans and other marginalized communities."

The work, known by intelligence officers as active measures, apparently continues. In the racially charged national debate over mostly black NFL players protesting by kneeling during the national anthem, Twitter accounts linked to the Russian 2016 influence campaign have tried to turn up the volume both on pro-player and anti-player accounts.

Colin Kaepernick, right, and Eric Reid of the San Francisco 49ers kneel in protest during the national anthem prior to playing the Los Angeles Rams in their NFL game on September 12, 2016.
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Before that, there were the ads on Facebook. And the account called "Blacktivist" led calls to action for African-Americans to "wake up" and fight "mass incarceration and death of black men." And before that, Facebook users using fake accounts paid personal trainers to lead self-defense classes aimed at black activists, arguing that the activists needed to "protect your rights."
And before that — the thread goes back decades. Soviet intelligence officers concocted the story that HIV and AIDS were developed by the CIA as a bio-weapon as a way to keep down nonwhites.
In 1984, ahead of the Summer Olympics, Soviet intelligence forged what looked like threatening letters from the Ku Klux Klan to African and Asian nations to try to scare them from sending their teams to the games in Los Angeles. Historian Christopher Andrew and former KGB officer Vasili Mitrokhin described the scheme in their 1999 book The Sword and the Shield.
"The Olympics — for the whites only," the letters said. "African monkeys! A grand reception awaits you in Los Angeles! We are preparing for the Olympic games by shooting at black moving targets."
When then-Attorney General William French Smith denounced the messages as Soviet forgeries, Andrew and Mitrokhin write, "Moscow predictably feigned righteous indication at Washington's anti-Soviet slanders."
There were many other such Russian schemes, according to now-declassified materials in the public record.
A "leaked" presidential memorandum in 1980 yielded this headline in a black newspaper in San Francisco: "Carter's Secret Plan To Keep Black Africans and Black Americans at Odds," Robert Wallace, H. Keith Melton and Henry Robert Schlesinger wrote in their CIA history Spycraft.
In another scheme, Soviet intelligence officers sought to pit black activists in New York against Zionist Jewish groups.
But what makes the targeting of African-Americans especially ugly is that they also have been subject to active measures by their own government.
The FBI under then-Director J. Edgar Hoover ran a campaign to hound King in 1964, including with listening devices in his hotel and letters threatening to ruin him. Meanwhile, the KGB was eager to exploit King as an internal political insurgent against Washington, D.C. When he wouldn't be used that way, the KGB also tried to undermine him.

Civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife Coretta Scott King lead a black voting rights march from Selma, Ala., to the state capital in Montgomery in 1965.
William Lovelace/Getty Images
"King was probably the only prominent American to be the target of active measures by both the FBI and the KGB," wrote Andrew and Mitrokhin in The Sword and the Shield.
Distrust endures to this day between black leaders and the FBI. Richmond, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, and other members including Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., and Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., cited the Bureau's ugly legacy in a recent complaint to the FBI about its investigations into "black identity extremists."
"The assessment and the analyses upon which it is based are flawed because it conflates black political activists with dangerous domestic terrorist organizations that pose actual threats to law enforcement," they wrote.
"As you are no doubt aware," the black lawmakers also wrote to FBI Director Christopher Wray, "the FBI has a troubling history of utilizing its broad investigatory powers to target black citizens ... . Given this history, and given several concerning actions this Administration has taken on racial issues, Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) are justifiably concerned about this FBI Assessment."
This deep distrust underscores what intelligence officers warned about active measures during the Cold War and continue to see now: Foreign governments don't need to invent controversy in Western democracies. It's already there. What they want is to make the disputes angrier and the debate louder.
Members of Congress and intelligence leaders concluded during the Soviet era that they needed to call out forgeries like the one Smith complained about. And now, some lawmakers also want to mandate more disclosure on the part of digital platforms about the ads they sell. That is expected to be a big focus of the Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 hearings.
Facebook and Twitter want to get out ahead of any action by Congress. The companies have announced on their own that they plan to reveal who buys certain ads, the content of the ads they're running and other information. 
Senate Intelligence Committee members, however, have complained that they're not getting all the answers they want from the online platforms, and they've also acknowledged they could uncover more evidence of ads sales or other use by Russian influence-mongers. 
One leader in the Black Lives Matter movement, DeRay McKesson, told NPR that about the only thing that has been firmly established so far is how little confidence black or white Americans can have that they're able to see the complete picture.
"This is just a reminder of how we probably don't even know how deep it goes," McKesson said.


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