Free Russia Foundation Launches #NoToWar Campaign

Marina Litvinenko: we are trying to stop the Russian propaganda machine

Sep 13 2018

Free Russia Foundation and the Atlantic Council organized this week an event with Marina Litvinenko – the widow of slain former intelligence officer Alexander Litvinenko – and family friend Alexander Goldfarb, to discuss their defamation lawsuit against Russian TV channels in the U.S. The panel discussion, held on Tuesday, September 11, also considered Russia’s use of the disinformation to discredit accusations over the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and Sergei Skripal.

Free Russia Foundation and the Atlantic Council organized this week an event with Marina Litvinenko – the widow of slain former intelligence officer Alexander Litvinenko – and family friend Alexander Goldfarb, to discuss their defamation lawsuit against Russian TV channels in the U.S. The panel discussion, held on Tuesday, September 11, also considered Russia’s use of the disinformation to discredit accusations over the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and Sergei Skripal.

The panel included:

Dr. Alex Goldfarb, President, Litvinenko Justice Foundation
Ms. Marina Litvinenko, Co-founder, Litvinenko Justice Foundation
Mr. Bertrand C. Sellier, Member, Rottenberg Lipman Rich, P.C.
Moderated by: Dr. Lauren Van Metre, Senior Fellow, Eurasia Center, Atlantic Council

 

Reinvigorated propaganda after Skripal case

Alex Goldfarb filed the lawsuit against two Russian state television channels, RT and Channel 1, with a federal court in New York last Friday. Goldfarb said the broadcasters’ programs have falsely claimed that he himself was behind the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian intelligence officer murdered in London in 2006 after drinking from a poisoned cup of tea. The TV programs (short clips were showed at the event) show Walter Litvinenko, father of Alexander Litvinenko and previously a critic of Vladimir Putin, accusing Goldfarb on the basis of an account told by Goldfarb’s wife. The story goes on to accuse Goldfarb also of killing his wife for “knowing too much,” and of working with American and British security services to discredit Russia. Goldfarb, a US citizen, denies all of the claims.

“This is clearly a case of Russian effort to change public opinion both in Russia and in the West into a basic anti-American mode,” said Goldfarb. He added that the broadcasts should also be seen in the context of Russian government propaganda aiming to distance Russian authorities in the aftermath of the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the British town of Salisbury.

Marina Litvinenko, Alexander Litvinenko’s widow, said she decided to support the legal action because she could not stand by idly. “Almost 10 years we tried to get justice for my husband,” said Litvinenko, adding that the propaganda against her husband started after his death. In 2016, a UK government inquiry into the death of Alexander Litvinenko concluded that the Russian state is likely to have been behind the poisoning, with intelligence officers Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun identified as the main suspects. In 2018, however, after the poisoning of Skripals, the Russian propaganda machine accelerated again, said Litvinenko.

“They try to use the case of Alexander Litvinenko to destroy the future case of Julia and Sergei Skripal,” said Litvinenko. In this regard, she said, the case brought to the U.S. court is “not only a personal case of Alexander Goldfarb,” but one against the “Russian propaganda-style machine,” and “we try to stop it.”

Bertrand C. Sellier, Goldfarb’s lawyer, said there are hundreds of thousands of Russian-speaking people living in the U.S. and that the Russian-language programs on TV have made Goldfarb “a victim of the most heinous lies imaginable.” He added, “this is a case about an individual American citizen who’s been defamed, but I think we can see in this case some real echoes of what is going on generally with Russian propaganda – the attempts to disrupt democracy not only in our country but all over the world.”

 

New political environment and a new case

Marina Litvinenko said she had hoped after the findings of the British public inquiry that such a crime would never happen again. “I couldn’t believe it happened again,” said Litvinenko.

Though the Skripal case is very similar, the UK government’s reaction has been different the second time around, as exhibited by outrage and the EU and US expulsion of Russian diplomats. In contrast, in the aftermath of Litvinenko’s poisoning, British government was reluctant to investigate the matter. Marina Litvinenko had to sue the British government to open a public inquiry and a court compelled the government to do so, said Goldfarb.

The British government has already brought charges against two Russian men it believes committed the Skripal attack. “There is, of course, an additional national security argument,” said Goldfarb, as novichok, the poison used in the attack, is a more dangerous substance than the polonium used in the murder of Alexander Litvinenko.

Marina Litvinenko said she doesn’t believe the suspects in either poisoning would ever be extradited by the Russian government and that the public inquiry into Skripal’s case could be a step in the right direction as it could help prevent such crimes in the future, as well as provide additional information.

After the Litvinenko inquiry in the UK was published, said Litvinenko, “I realized I have power.” She added that it was very difficult to change public opinion about the Kremlin because a lot of people still believed that Russia is a democratic country. After 2014, however, the situation has changed and people have seen the Kremlin’s actions and how propaganda actually works. “We see how they twist any information,” said Litvinenko. “People became confused on what is truth and what is not, because they believe it is just an alternative opinion and we see how dangerous it is. [But] it is not simply another opinion, it is propaganda,” said Litvinenko.

Bertrand C. Sellier said the accusations against Goldfarb have been rejected by the official findings of the UK public inquiry. The Russian-backed TV channels can claim they were just transmitting Walter Litvinenko’s personal opinion, and Sellier notes that “the Supreme Court said that if someone is a public figure you have not only say that something is false, but in effect to know that it is false. In this case the broadcasters were putting forth and endorsing the statement by Walter. […]The case was just filed a few days ago on Friday, so we haven’t heard yet from the defendants, but my guess is that they are going to defend the case vigorously […] We are prepared to fight it.”

 

By Valeria Jegisman

Free Russia Foundation and the Atlantic Council organized this week an event with Marina Litvinenko – the widow of slain former intelligence officer Alexander Litvinenko – and family friend Alexander Goldfarb, to discuss their defamation lawsuit against Russian TV channels in the U.S. The panel discussion, held on Tuesday, September 11, also considered Russia’s use of the disinformation to discredit accusations over the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and Sergei Skripal.

The panel included:

Dr. Alex Goldfarb, President, Litvinenko Justice Foundation
Ms. Marina Litvinenko, Co-founder, Litvinenko Justice Foundation
Mr. Bertrand C. Sellier, Member, Rottenberg Lipman Rich, P.C.
Moderated by: Dr. Lauren Van Metre, Senior Fellow, Eurasia Center, Atlantic Council

 

Reinvigorated propaganda after Skripal case

Alex Goldfarb filed the lawsuit against two Russian state television channels, RT and Channel 1, with a federal court in New York last Friday. Goldfarb said the broadcasters’ programs have falsely claimed that he himself was behind the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian intelligence officer murdered in London in 2006 after drinking from a poisoned cup of tea. The TV programs (short clips were showed at the event) show Walter Litvinenko, father of Alexander Litvinenko and previously a critic of Vladimir Putin, accusing Goldfarb on the basis of an account told by Goldfarb’s wife. The story goes on to accuse Goldfarb also of killing his wife for “knowing too much,” and of working with American and British security services to discredit Russia. Goldfarb, a US citizen, denies all of the claims.

“This is clearly a case of Russian effort to change public opinion both in Russia and in the West into a basic anti-American mode,” said Goldfarb. He added that the broadcasts should also be seen in the context of Russian government propaganda aiming to distance Russian authorities in the aftermath of the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the British town of Salisbury.

Marina Litvinenko, Alexander Litvinenko’s widow, said she decided to support the legal action because she could not stand by idly. “Almost 10 years we tried to get justice for my husband,” said Litvinenko, adding that the propaganda against her husband started after his death. In 2016, a UK government inquiry into the death of Alexander Litvinenko concluded that the Russian state is likely to have been behind the poisoning, with intelligence officers Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun identified as the main suspects. In 2018, however, after the poisoning of Skripals, the Russian propaganda machine accelerated again, said Litvinenko.

“They try to use the case of Alexander Litvinenko to destroy the future case of Julia and Sergei Skripal,” said Litvinenko. In this regard, she said, the case brought to the U.S. court is “not only a personal case of Alexander Goldfarb,” but one against the “Russian propaganda-style machine,” and “we try to stop it.”

Bertrand C. Sellier, Goldfarb’s lawyer, said there are hundreds of thousands of Russian-speaking people living in the U.S. and that the Russian-language programs on TV have made Goldfarb “a victim of the most heinous lies imaginable.” He added, “this is a case about an individual American citizen who’s been defamed, but I think we can see in this case some real echoes of what is going on generally with Russian propaganda – the attempts to disrupt democracy not only in our country but all over the world.”

 

New political environment and a new case

Marina Litvinenko said she had hoped after the findings of the British public inquiry that such a crime would never happen again. “I couldn’t believe it happened again,” said Litvinenko.

Though the Skripal case is very similar, the UK government’s reaction has been different the second time around, as exhibited by outrage and the EU and US expulsion of Russian diplomats. In contrast, in the aftermath of Litvinenko’s poisoning, British government was reluctant to investigate the matter. Marina Litvinenko had to sue the British government to open a public inquiry and a court compelled the government to do so, said Goldfarb.

The British government has already brought charges against two Russian men it believes committed the Skripal attack. “There is, of course, an additional national security argument,” said Goldfarb, as novichok, the poison used in the attack, is a more dangerous substance than the polonium used in the murder of Alexander Litvinenko.

Marina Litvinenko said she doesn’t believe the suspects in either poisoning would ever be extradited by the Russian government and that the public inquiry into Skripal’s case could be a step in the right direction as it could help prevent such crimes in the future, as well as provide additional information.

After the Litvinenko inquiry in the UK was published, said Litvinenko, “I realized I have power.” She added that it was very difficult to change public opinion about the Kremlin because a lot of people still believed that Russia is a democratic country. After 2014, however, the situation has changed and people have seen the Kremlin’s actions and how propaganda actually works. “We see how they twist any information,” said Litvinenko. “People became confused on what is truth and what is not, because they believe it is just an alternative opinion and we see how dangerous it is. [But] it is not simply another opinion, it is propaganda,” said Litvinenko.

Bertrand C. Sellier said the accusations against Goldfarb have been rejected by the official findings of the UK public inquiry. The Russian-backed TV channels can claim they were just transmitting Walter Litvinenko’s personal opinion, and Sellier notes that “the Supreme Court said that if someone is a public figure you have not only say that something is false, but in effect to know that it is false. In this case the broadcasters were putting forth and endorsing the statement by Walter. […]The case was just filed a few days ago on Friday, so we haven’t heard yet from the defendants, but my guess is that they are going to defend the case vigorously […] We are prepared to fight it.”

 

By Valeria Jegisman

Free Russia Foundation Condemns the Kremlin’s Decision to Annex the Occupied Territories of Ukraine and Preparations for Mobilization in Russia

Sep 20 2022

On September 20, 2022, the occupation authorities of the self-proclaimed republics “LNR” and “DNR” and other occupied territories of Ukraine, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, hastily announced that they would hold “referendums on joining Russia” in the near future. The authorities of the “LNR” and “DNR” added that the vote will take place as early as this week, from September 23 to 27, 2022.

On the same day, the Russian State Duma introduced the concepts of “mobilization,” “martial law” and “wartime” into the Russian Criminal Code. The deputies voted for the law in the third reading unanimously — all 389 of them. Now voluntary surrender, looting and unauthorized abandonment of a unit during combat operations will result in imprisonment.

From the first day of the war unleashed by Putin’s regime and its allies against independent Ukraine, Free Russia Foundation, which supports Russian activists, journalists, and human rights activists forced to leave the country because of direct security threats, has condemned the crimes of Putin’s regime against independent Ukraine. We respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of states and consider human life and freedom to be of the highest value.

The forthcoming “referendums”, mobilization, and martial law are a collapse of the whole system of “Putin’s stability,” the illusion of which the Kremlin has been trying to maintain since the beginning of the full-scale war with Ukraine. Vladimir Putin is preparing to blatantly violate international law once again and launch an attack on democracy and freedom in Ukraine and Europe. Any statements by the Kremlin that residents of the occupied territories of Ukraine want to become part of Russia are false.

Three decades ago, the Ukrainian people proclaimed the independence of their state. Since 2014, the world has seen that Vladimir Putin has undermined Ukraine’s sovereignty and any attempts at anti-war protest in Russia through military force, repressive legislation, false statements, and massive state propaganda. Despite all the suffering inflicted on Ukraine, Putin has failed to achieve this goal: Ukrainians continue to show fortitude and determination to defend their country at any cost, and Russian anti-war resistance continues despite repression.

We consider any attempts to tear away Ukrainian territory through so-called “referendums” categorically unacceptable and call on state institutions and international human rights organizations to join the demand for an immediate end to the war and the liberation of the occupied territories. Any war brings suffering to humanity and endangers peace. We will not allow a totalitarian dictatorship to prevail and we will continue to fight for Ukraine’s independence and Russia’s democratic future.

Free Russia Foundation announces the appointment of Vladimir Milov as Vice President for International Advocacy

Sep 01 2022

September 1, 2022. Washington, DC. Free Russia Foundation announces the appointment of Russian politician, publicist, economist, and energy expert Vladimir Milov as FRF Vice President for International Advocacy.

In her announcement of Vladimir’s new role, Natalia Arno, President of Free Russia Foundation, remarked: “I am delighted to welcome this distinguished Russian civil society leader to our team. I am certain that Vladimir will become our force multiplier and make a profound contribution to FRF’s mission, including strengthening civil society in Russia, standing up for democracy defenders who oppose war, both inside and outside the country, building coalitions and mobilizing supporters. Vladimir Milov’s professional skills and extensive experience in human rights advocacy will help us come up with effective and innovative approaches to combat the authoritarian regime and repression that the current Russian government has unleashed against citizens of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.”

Vladimir Milov was born on June 18, 1972. From 1997—2002 he worked in government agencies, more than 4 years of which were in senior positions, from assistant to the Chairman of the Federal Energy Commission to the Deputy Minister of Energy of Russia.

Vladimir Milov has bravely and publicly called out the authorities for monopolizing the economy, and encroaching into public and political life of Russian citizens. Milov’s profile as an opposition leader rose thanks to his joint project with Boris Nemtsov. The report titled “Putin. Results,” condemned the activities of the Russian government during Putin’s presidency. In 2010, Mr. Milov headed the Democratic Choice movement, which later served as the basis for the creation of a political party with the same name.

In 2016, Mr. Milov became an associate of the unregistered presidential candidate Alexei Navalny. On May 11, 2017, he began hosting a weekly segment on the economy, “Where’s the Money?” on the NavalnyLIVE broadcast on YouTube.

In April of 2021, he left Russia for Lithuania amidst persecution of Alexei Navalny’s organizations. In February of 2022, he categorically condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On May 6, 2022, the Russian Ministry of Justice added Vladimir Milov to the list of media outlets considered as “foreign agents.” Vladimir Milov is a regular guest expert for the world’s leading media outlets — CNN, CNBC, The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal.

Kara-Murza faces a new charge as the Kremlin cracks down on its opponents

Aug 04 2022

Russian pro-democracy politician Vladimir Kara-Murza, who’s been in jail since April for allegedly spreading “disinformation” about the Russian military, now also stands accused of “carrying out the activities of an undesirable organization,” which names Free Russia Foundation in the newly filed charge.

Free Russia Foundation, unconstitutionally designated as an “undesirable” organization by the Russian government in June 2019, did not organize an event on political prisoners in Moscow in 2021. FRF does not have any presence or programs inside Russia. Additionally, FRF has never conducted any work in the State of Arizona.

FRF strongly condemns the new charges brought against Vladimir Kara-Murza by Russian authorities and demands the dropping of all charges against him and calls for his immediate release.

“All actions of the Kremlin directed against Russian opposition politicians and activists have nothing in common with establishing the truth. They are instead aimed solely at getting rid of opponents of Putin’s regime,” FRF President Arno stated.

Free Russian Foundation and Boris Nemtsov Foundation launch “Russians for Change” fundraising campaign

Jul 25 2022

Russia is not Putin. We are Russia.

We aim at sharing this message with our friends around the world — therefore, in cooperation with Boris Nemtsov Foundation we are launching “Russians for Change” fundraising campaign.

We are going to be telling the stories of active pro-democracy anti-war Russians who have not lost their hope. US nationals also participate in this campaign: Francis Fukuyama, investigative journalist Casey Michel, and alumni of Boris Nemtsov Foundation media school.

Thank you for your donation:

The Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom honors the political legacy of Boris Nemtsov, a Russian liberal opposition politician assassinated in Moscow in 2015. It promotes freedom of speech and education along with the vision that Russia is a part of Europe.

Free Russia Foundation is starting to document cases of abduction by the Russian army of Ukrainians for the International Criminal Court

Jul 13 2022

In the temporarily occupied territories of the Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions, in addition to the killing of civilians and horrific destructions carried out by the Russian army: a severe violation of the norms of international law in the form of abduction of Ukrainians into the territory of Russia has been taking place.

Prior to being interned, Ukrainians are placed in so-called “filtration camps” where they are subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment.

All these actions violate the Hague Conventions and constitute an international crime.

We plan to collect information about such abduction cases, put it in written pleadings, and submit them to the International Criminal Court.

If you have been subject to abduction (internment), please, fill in the form via the link.