FRF has seen increased targeting by sophisticated cyber and legislative attacks by the Kremlin in recent months
FRF was reportedly one of 30 organizations subjected to phishing attacks on the highly-encrypted ProtonMail servers and remains under a barrage of Kremlin propaganda amid massive protests in Moscow.
In recent months, FRF email accounts associated with ProtonMail and Gmail have been under a barrage of sophisticated phishing attempts to gain access to our private account information. According to reports in Bellingcat and The Insider, themselves victims of this attack, FRF was one of 30 ProtonMail users that were targeted in attempted phishing hacks. The list of targets under attack by the sophisticated operation carried out against the Swiss-based mail service included NGOs and think tanks, including Free Russia Foundation (FRF), and investigative journalists/activist researchers that expose aggressive Russian intelligence operations against Western democracies. According to Bellingcat’s research, the most likely perpetrator behind this attack is the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence service, that has already been caught in multiple illegal hacking operations against the US and its EU allies. Reportedly, Swiss, French and Dutch law enforcement are investigating the details of the latest attack. In a statement by ProtonMail, it is suggested that the cyberattacks were carried out by “Fancy Bear,” which is commonly thought to be a front for the GRU.
Over the last few months, Kremlin propaganda networks have initiated a barrage of public and discreet attacks on FRF and its staff. This has included statements made by the General Prosecutor’s office that FRF, among other foreign groups, have been responsible for organizing recent rallies in Russia. While we applaud those facing down police brutality, the organic rallies of up to 60,000 Russians in Moscow and elsewhere have been in protest against the illegal removal of several non-Kremlin allied candidates from the Moscow city ballot; they were not organized by foreign actors.
FRF has also been the subject of several recent breathless news reports suggesting our promotion of democracy, led by Russians for Russians is somehow treasonous. This came on the heels of June 28, 2019 designation by the Ministry of Justice and the General Prosecutor’s office that FRF is an “undesirable” organization, one of 18 international organizations banned from direct activities in Russia. (FRF statement on the “undesirable” designation)
Rosfinmonitoring, Russian Financial service, absurdly attempted to accuse a member of FRF staff of being a suspect in financial transaction with ISIL (Islamic State). Ironically, this low-quality fabrication was revealed just at the time when FRF was finalizing its ground-breaking report “Misrule of Law” on the Kremlin’s interference in judicial and law enforcement processes in the West.
This spring, Russian State Duma officials and Kremlin-sponsored media falsely accused FRF of plotting and instigating anti-Russian protests in Tbilisi, Georgia, through our recently-opened office there.
“The fact that our analysts are targets of such illegal hacking and slander attacks alongside the best Western investigators of Russian aggression only confirms to us that we are doing the right thing as we expose the crimes of this kleptocratic regime. The whole world sees the brutality and stupidity of the Kremlin’s attempts to suppress genuine protests of tens of thousands of ordinary Muscovites and other Russian citizens. The Free Russia Foundation will continue its objective analysis of ongoing developments despite any attempts to impede our work,” said Natalia Arno, Founder and President of the FRF.
For more information, contact Natalia Arno at firstname.lastname@example.org