How the West uses Africa in its anti-Russian smear campaign
By Adrian Moores
RECENTLY I’ve heard a similar story from several of my buddies. The point is that all of them have received identical messages from one Christopher Donnelly. He made an offer to publish anti-Russian articles (under the disguise of fighting alleged Russian disinformation) in local press and via social network for a handsome reward.
Being insanely curious person I surfed the Internet for hours and after some time was lucky to fish out very interesting information posted at a website: cyberguerrilla.org.
Firstly I discovered that Christopher Nigel Donnelly as an intelligence operative. For a long time he served in the British Army Intelligence Corps where he established and led the Soviet Studies Research Centre at RMA Sandhurst. He also worked at the British Ministry of Defence and advised several NATO’s Secretaries General. Since 2010 he is a director of the NGO “The Institute for Statecraft”.
Donnelly seems to be obsessed with the “Russian threat” and is determined to fight it by all means. In 2015 the British government accepted his proposal by launching a secret operation code-named “Integrity Initiative” to insert anti-Russia propaganda into the western media stream. Its perpetrator is the Institute for Statecraft which is sponsored for running this Programme not only by the Government of Britain but also by NATO and other state donors.
The Initiative’s Orwellian slogan is “Defending Democracy against Disinformation”. It covers European countries, the UK, the U.S. and Canada.
The main goal of the Initiative is to build “a cluster” or contact groups of trusted journalists, military personal, academics and lobbyists within foreign countries. These people get alerts via social media to take action when the British centre perceives a need.
In October 2016 Donnelly had a Private Discussion with Gen Sir Richard Barrons. The general lamented the lack of influence the military has on the British government and its people. He argued for more government financed think tank research that can be fed back into the government.
This was actually an order from the core of the British thinking to Donnelly to get even deeper into the inner-British influence business. Hype Russia as a threat so more money can be taken from the ‘vested interests’ of the people and dumped into the military machine.
The top indicator for the success of the Initiative’s proposed work for the Ministry of Defence is a “Tougher stance in government policy towards Russia”. This is consistent with the operation of other Anglo-American think tanks and policy initiatives in which one part of the government, usually the hawkish one, secretly uses NGO’s and think-tanks to lobby other parts of the government to support their specific hobbyhorse and budget.
The obvious illustration of the Initiative in action is a disruption by the Spanish cluster last year of Perto Banos appointment as the Director of the National Security Department in Spain. The cluster launched a coordinated social media smear campaign and determined that Banos had a too positive view of Russia.
Another example relates to Benedict Nimmo, one of the employees of the Institute of the Statecraft, and the Guardian “journalist” Carole Cadwalladr. In late 2017 they disseminated allegations that Russia used Facebook ads to influence the Brexit decision. Cadwalladr even received a price for her work. Unfortunately the price was not revoked when Facebook revealed that “Russia’s linked” accounts had spent a total of 97 cents on Brexit ads. It is unexplained how that was enough to achieve their alleged aim.
The Initiative’s Guide to Countering Russian Information is a rather funny read. It lists the downing of flight MH 17 by a Ukrainian BUK missile, the fake chemical incident in Khan Sheikhoun and the Skripal Affair as examples for “Russian disinformation”. But at least two of these events, Khan Sheikun via the UK run White Helmets and the Skripal affair, are evidently products of British intelligence disinformation operations.
After reading through the released papers and keeping in mind the stories of my fellows it seems that Donnelly wishes to expand “the Initiative” to Africa by creating here another “cluster” of actors who will disseminate disinformation to the global public under his direction. Thank God that my buddies are decent people. Though they didn’t know the background of Donnelly, all of them dismissed his shameless proposal, claiming that Russia is an old proven friend of Namibia and they don’t betray friends.
I also wondered why Donnelly brought his offer now. And the answer came easily. By disseminating fake news about Russia the Western countries wish to damage its reputation on the continent and in particular to jeopardize the holding of the first Russia-Africa summit which is planned for October this year in Sochi. At the same time the West has a desire to prevent African states to operate independently and wants to set out its own views.
To that end I appeal to all African politicians, journalists, leaders of NGOs and other civil-society institutions, which may have received or will receive in future dirty proposals like one from Donnelly, to dump them into a trash can preserving your dignity. I also wish that our Government reiterates in deeds and not merely in words its assurances of friendship with Russia and sends its highest-level delegation to the summit in Sochi which can be a mile-stone in Russian-African relations.