The Kremlin Influence Campaigns

Zeestraat 35, 2518, The Hague, Netherlands



Hosted by Free Russia Foundation

FRIDAY, JUNE 28, 2019


Zeestraat 35, 2518

The Hague, Netherlands

9:00 to 14:30


Is state-sponsored disinformation a protected form of free speech? How do we define its limits and what is the available recourse when it harms people and institutions? On June 28, 2019, at The Hague, Free Russia Foundation hosts an important discussion on the dichotomy between speech rights and state-sponsored disinformation campaigns.

As part of this event, we will unveil the new report by the U.S. Library of Congress “Limits on Freedom of Expression”, examining the scope of protection extended to freedom of speech in thirteen selected countries: Argentina • Brazil • Canada • China • France• Germany • Israel • Japan • Netherlands• New Zealand • Sweden • Ukraine • United Kingdom. The report focuses on the limits of protection that may apply to the right to interrupt or affect in any other way public speech. The report also addresses the availability of mechanisms to control foreign broadcasters working on behalf of foreign governments.

The conference will feature an exhibit of two prominent Russian photographers – Denis Bochkarev and Konstantin Rubakhin – taking a close look at the Russian society and youth.

The conference will be moderated by Michael Weiss, U.S. journalist and author.


8:30 – 9:00 Registration and Breakfast Buffet

9:00 – 9:05 Opening Remarks

Natalia Arno, President, Free Russia Foundation

9:05-9:25 Keynote Remarks

David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Speech

Richard Hoogland, D66 Board member International Cooperation

9:25-10:25 Panel 1. The Role of the Media in Combating Propaganda

The Kremlin has sought to use a variety of disinformation campaigns to inject its narrative into the public discourse via legitimate media outlets around the world. Journalists and publishers have found themselves as unwitting transmitters of state-sponsored campaigns against the West or have had to spent countless hours discerning the truth from barefaced lies. This panel of distinguished journalists and media experts will discuss these growing challenges and ways in which they have changed the news media.


Leon Willems, Free Press Unlimited


Roman Dobrokhotov, the Insider

Vasily Gatov, USC Annenberg Center

Luke Hardingthe Guardian

Evgeny Kisilev, Russian/ Ukrainian political commentator

Thomas O. Melia, PEN America

Peter Pomerantsev, Arena Initiative, LSE

Olga Romanova, Russian journalist and human rights defender

10:25 – 10:35 Coffee break

10:35-11:35 Panel 2.  Targets of the Kremlin’s Disinformation Campaigns.

Disinformation levies a real cost: it undermines the integrity of democratic institutions, destabilizes societies, and seeks to outright harm the Kremlin’s critics.

This panel will feature individuals who have been targeted by Russian-state sponsored disinformation campaigns. The panelists will share their experiences including ways in which their lives have been impacted, and ways they have defended themselves. They will discuss the role the Kremlin has played in labeling those who disagree with its policies as traitors and how that has dehumanized them and put a target on their back.


Michael Weiss, U.S. journalist and author


Alena Balaba, Odessa Media Center

Tatiana Gerasimova, Гідність (Dignity), Ukraine

Vladimir Kara-Murza, Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom

Martin Kragh, Swedish Institute of International Affairs

Marina Litvinenko, Justice for Litvinenko

Ilona Sokolova, International Public Tribunal

Liz Wahl, U.S. journalist

11:35 – 11:45 Coffee break

11:45 – 12:45 Panel 3. Digital and Civic Solutions.

How can the information space be protected from state sponsors of propaganda? What are some safety mechanisms guarding millions of social media exchanges each day?

Our panelists will consider the propaganda impact, such as populations of social media users unable to discern state-advanced narratives from bona-fide news produced by objective news organizations. This panel will take an in-depth look at the phenomena of state-sponsored disinformation campaigns, how they shape the contemporary information space, the use of social media platforms, the impact of false accounts and bots that have become prevalent and served as amplifiers for state-run media storylines. The panelists will share their experiences operating on this new digital-media battlefield and discuss the impact of inauthentic digital content.


Kristina Vaiciunaite, European Endowment for Democracy


Nighat Dad, Digital Rights Foundation

Jens-Henrik Jeppesen, Center for Democracy and Technology

Oleg Kozlovsky, Amnesty International

Jeremy Lamoreaux, Brigham Young University

Joanna Szymanska, Article 19

Nathalie Vogel, European Values Think Tank

Ilya Zaslavskiy, Free Russia Foundation

12:45-13:15 Lunch break

13:15 – 14:15 Panel 4.  Legal and Policy Mechanisms for Combating State Disinformation.

While the rights of protected speech are established, their limits are less so.  As part of the 2009 Treaty of Lisbon, all EU members have agreed to uphold the freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, of procession and, freedom of demonstration. However, there are great variations of speech protections within national constitutions, and for the most part, the limits of speech, or legal precedents that establish where the speech of one person infringes on the rights of another are not well-defined.

Our panel of legal and human rights experts will examine the clash of enumerated individual speech rights against the boundaries of collective rights of a state actors. The panel will then take stock of ways in which states and other governing bodies such as the U.N. and the E.U. have established limits on hate speech, defamation and libel, and articulated anti-obscenity laws and how they can be used to limit the harm rendered by state-sponsored propaganda.  Finally, the panelists will discuss legal recourse options available to those targeted by disinformation campaigns.


Dani Mitov, NDI


Ralf Fuecks, Zentrum Liberale Moderne

Jelger Groeneveld, D66

Padraig Hughes, Media Legal Defense Initiative

David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Speech

Miriam Lexmann, MEP Elect

Scott Martin, Global Rights Compliance

Marko Mihkelson, Estonian MP

14:15 – 14:30 Closing remarks

Ralf Fuecks, Zentrum Liberale Moderne

Thomas O. Melia, PEN America

Free Russia Foundation (www.4freerussia.org) is an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the vision of a free, democratic, prosperous and peaceful Russia. We have centers in Kyiv, Ukraine; Tbilisi, Georgia; Washington, DC; and San Jose, California. We are a non-partisan organization and are not affiliated with any other organizations or governments.