DEAR FRIENDS, READERS, SUBSCRIBERS, AND SUPPORTERS,
We are pleased to inform you about another eye-opening report about SouthFront’s work released by the highest levels of the US government.
In early August, the Global Engagement Center of the US Department of State released a report entitled “Pillars of Russia’s Disinformation and Propaganda Ecosystem”. At least 13 of the 77 pages of this report are dedicated to SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence as a “pillar” of Russian disinformation and propaganda.
Please find the full version of report on the official website of the US Department of State: HERE
SouthFront also feels obliged to make some comments regarding the content of this brilliant investigative report dedicated to our endeavour. We do not think that our comments include anything really new, but it will be useful to recall the history of SouthFront’s creation and development.
SouthFront vs Globalists – Episode We Lost Count
First of all, we want to compliment the authors of the report. It has a very straight and useful logic: If some media organization has Russian citizens or people of Russian origin among its members, or, God forbid, other links with Russia, this media is beyond question spreading Russia’s disinformation and is controlled by the Kremlin.
Setting the tone for the depth of the investigation, the part of the report about SouthFront starts by repeating tired tropes about the registration of the SouthFront website domain (southfront.org) by a Russian domain registrar Reg.ru. This is an open secret and we’ve repeatedly said that this was done intentionally in order to secure the domain in the case of an attempt to censor it. Recent developments demonstrate that this decision was well founded.
Then, the US State Department repeats Facebook stories created to justify the censorship of SouthFront’s public page with about 100,000 subscribers.
The reports’ authors took from the claims made by Facebook in “April 2020 Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Report” what they thought to be the most important part: the allegation that SouthFront was based in Crimea, and used this allegation to associate SouthFront with another organization with a similar name “News Front”. This media organization is in fact based in Crimea and officially registered in Russia.
This cheap trick is presented as if it were the result of an in-depth investigation and itself a great revelation of SouthFront’s roots. Nonetheless, many of our readers and subscribers who have been following SouthFront for years well know SouthFront’s history and there has been no secret made of the fact that a few members of SouthFront are of Russian origin, from Russia or are Russian citizens. There are also members from other post-USSR states. This does not mean that SouthFront, as an international team of independent authors and experts, is based in Crimea or that the SouthFront Steering Committee is located in Crimea. This is a blatant lie and we are ready to prove this in court.
It is easy to see that SouthFront has always provided a platform for the various, sometimes opposing, points of view shared by our members, volunteers and contributors. SouthFront also freely provided its umbrella brand for authors and groups of authors, who share the main principles of SouthFront and stand against mainstream disinformation, global censorship and the enforcing neo-liberal, globalist world order.
The report states that the SouthFront account deleted by YouTube in 2015 included ‘crimeanfront’ in its name and makes far-reaching conclusions using this claim.
This is a clear factual error. Even the screenshot used in the report itself confirms this by quoting the following words: “Our new channel is https://youtube.com/user/crimeanfront”. If that is the new channel, then it is only logical to assume that some other channel was deleted. Right?
So here are the actual facts: The channel deleted in April 2015 had the link ‘https://www.youtube.com/c/southfront’ and was removed due to a suspicious story with copyright claims by NATO-affiliated Nordic Films LTD.
Here is the message then shared by our friends, including The Saker:
After the deletion of that channel, SouthFront volunteers of Russian origin proposed using the already existing YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/crimeanfront. At that time, this channel already had a certain number of subscribers. Therefore, it was useful to employ it instead of creating a new one with a zero base audience.
Unfortunately for the US State Department investigators, the facts go contrary to their conspiracy theories. If the US analysts had really wanted to go into the matter and produce useful material instead of potential toilet paper, they would have found out that that YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/crimeanfront was not deleted in April 2015.
Of course, SouthFront Team is arousing fear among members of the Washington establishment. Nonetheless, the situation itself causes a sad smile.
The next part of the report is based on screenshots showing the redesign of https://www.youtube.com/user/crimeanfront and claims of some person insisting that he created Crimean Front that later became News Front. Using this, the authors of the report claim that SouthFront and News Front are somehow “at least began as sister organizations”.
It is hard to dignify such a superficial investigation with a comment. Even when the SouthFront concept was being created and the like-minded group of people that later created SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence and evolved into SouthFront Steering Committee first got together, we had no links to the aforementioned organizations.
On top of this, the YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/crimeanfront provided to SouthFront by volunteers was not linked to the aforementioned organizations. This is why they were not using this channel. Instead, SouthFront got it for free over 1.5 years after the developments in Crimea in 2014.
At the same time, there is no secret that in 2015 and coming years, SouthFront, an endeavour dedicated to the coverage of conflicts around the world, was covering developments in Ukraine. It’s easy to find this if one opens southfront.org and checks the category #UKRAINE.
As to the idea of the endeavour that later was named SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence, it first appeared in 2012-2013 and came about as a result of the rapid deterioration of the international situation around the world, especially in the Middle East.
The developments in Crimea, eastern Ukraine and Syria in 2014 became the turning point that led to the creation of SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence, the SouthFront Steering Committee and to the main foundations of our work: independence, the commitment to freedom of speech, human rights, and combating media disinformation and censorship.
Trying to link SouthFront with News Front, the State Department report ignored the obvious fact that SouthFront appeared earlier than News Front. This can be seen from the date of the creation of the first Facebook page of SouthFront, and screenshots shared by the report’s authors themselves. Therefore, there are two main versions:
1) SouthFront is an all-mighty Kremlin tool that influences other Russian ‘proxy sites’ and ‘disinformation and propaganda’ on the international scene, and its members are on a first-name basis with Vladimir Putin;
2) In the world of State Department fairy-tales, the use of the word “Front” in the name of an organization indicates a connection to any other organization also using “Front” in its name.
Conspiracy theorists may be surprised to learn that SouthFront is a largely volunteer organization with a regularly changing team composition. So, we want to seize this opportunity and inform the US experts about some realities of modern informational warfare and disinformation.
Dear friends, you may have failed to notice this, but in the modern information society, new network organizations work on principles that are quite different to those employed 10-20 years ago. Lies, double-faced policies and distortion of facts by government-funded media set the basis for SouthFront’s power and influence. It is a high time to understand that this concerns people around the world and inspires them to get an independent point of view.
We can perhaps excuse Department of State personnel for not knowing that when one obtains a domain name via a domain registrar, the registration data shows the physical address of the domain registrar office. However, the inability to notice that SouthFront has always had a PayPal account with a .ru address and that this address has always been public and easily found on southfront.org is beyond our understanding.
Do the authors really think that if SouthFront Team members were to work secretly for the Kremlin or Russian intelligence services (for example, the mighty GRU), we would not have found the time to obtain an address through Yahoo.com or some other non-.ru service?
The next part of the investigation showcases 7 links allegedly confirming that SouthFront “directly aligns with Kremlin talking points and disinformation.” Since the launch of southfront.org, we have released several tens of thousands of articles, videos and graphic pieces. Apparently, the State Department staff spent a lot of time checking them to find these seven posts. In any case, SouthFront has never denied that we provide a platform for all sides interested in a constructive discussion, including the pro-Russian perspective.
It is also interesting to note how the authors of the document described SouthFront articles criticizing the internal situation in Russia and the actions of Moscow. For them, this is just a “tactic” to hide “an ocean of Kremlin-aligned disinformation”. However, if one employs this approach, one would have to find that CNN, the Washington Times, the New York Times and other outlets, which release critical articles about Russia, must also be a part of the sophisticated Kremlin-affiliated disinformation network.
Joking aside, if one checks SouthFront articles questioning the actions of the Russian authorities or criticizing them, one would find hundreds of content pieces. In fact, it is hard to find a southfront.org article that would provide a solely positive view on the current internal political situation in Russia or on the actions of Moscow in the last 1-2 years.
The COVID-19 disinformation part also shows no creativity. We have already stated this on previous occasions, but it bears repeating: SouthFront well understands that the COVID-19 outbreak is a sensitive issue. This is why our articles about the outbreak/pandemic always include links to sources and facts. The fact, which deserves special attention, is that SouthFront articles do not fuel hysteria and fear regarding the COVID-19 spread. We seek to objectively cover the situation.
The report includes 6 examples of supposed COVID-19 disinformation. SouthFront releases about 30 content pieces per day. Articles, videos and graphic pieces dedicated to the COVID-19 outbreak make up less than 1% of the content released by SouthFront in 2020 so far. This is less than a statistical error. Nonetheless, the State Department report reads as if half of SouthFront content is ‘COVID-19 disinformation’ and most of the rest is made up of official statements by the Kremlin.
The part of the paper entitled Niche Graphics Capabilities emphasizes the “professionally designed” SouthFront visual content. We, the SouthFront Team, want to say thank you to the Department of State for its high praise of our work. This will motivate us to even greater efforts in the field to produce even more high quality content.
The conspiracy theory explaining the evolution and redesign of southfront.org’s side bar is a third rate fairy tale.
State Department investigators made several screenshots of the partners section of old southfront.org’s side bar pretending that its changes are something ‘strange’ and need ‘explanations’. It seems that far from everybody in the State Department spent time in university doing something useful. At least, we can recommend that they google “Occam’s razor”.
A small hint for State Department employees reading this article: Occam’s razor is the principle that, of two explanations that account for all the facts, the simpler one is more likely to be correct.
Time is moving on. Life is a complex and variable thing. Conflicts start and conflicts end. The geopolitical game continues, the balance of power in different regions of the world changes. It would be strange to expect that the list of organizations with which SouthFront stays in touch or cooperates would not also change over the years. SouthFront has always provided its content for free, on the basis of the fair usage principle, without any paywalls. Therefore, in 2015, when the conflict in Ukraine was dominating the media and SouthFront was producing at least 10% of its content on the issue, there was one list of media partners. In 2018, when the US-Iranian conflict escalated, the partner list was already different, and included some Iranians.
Meanwhile, the website itself was redesigned and optimized and the southfront.org sidebar made way to create additional free space; for example, for the ‘MAPS & INFOGRAPHICS DATABASE’ banner.
In the end, the content of the report just sinks into a conspiracy abyss allowing no chance for common sense to reassert itself. Likely in an attempt to link SouthFront to Iran or to the ‘bloody Assad regime’, the Department of State quotes a comment sent by SouthFront volunteers to Syrian Free Press. The comment includes a proposal to share videos with that blog, and is signed by SouthFront volunteers, not by the SouthFront Steering Committee.
This fact can only serve as a demonstration of the umbrella (franchising) nature of the SouthFront organizational structure. With the exception of facebook.com/southfronten, all the links mentioned in the comment are de-facto independent branches of SouthFront voluntarily created by groups of motivated people from different countries and affiliated with SouthFront only through their commitment to the SouthFront principles at that moment.
SouthFront is always glad to assist and provide come consultancy help to people that stand up for freedom of speech and against the globalist censorship.
What is really strange is that State Department investigators failed to find the still existing independent branches of SouthFront in northern and western Europe. Probably, this could serve as another signal of the ‘depth’ of this investigation.
SouthFront Team is sorry to conclude that the Department of State of the world’s sole super power was unable to provide any facts to confirm their speculations about SouthFront being a front for Russian disinformation. Bogus stories, which have been circulating in various media outlets and think tanks funded by Euro-Atlantic structures for years, do not count. In reality, this likely means that the authors did no research of their own in the field and just copy-pasted and patched together already existing reports made by their friends from affiliated or allied organizations.
Thank God, the authors did not try to link SouthFront to supposed Russian meddling in the US election.
After such ‘high-quality investigations’ in this field, the Department of State would not even have a theoretical chance of saving face.
It would be interesting to get the reaction of the bosses of these staff members and of the leadership of the State Department itself, to find out what they think about such quality of work. It is highly likely that the group of State Department specialists that prepared the report presented it as an exclusive investigation that required a significant amount of time and financial resources.
Proposal to US Department of State
SouthFront proposes the leadership of the US Department of State expert help in the field of covering the work of SouthFront as a pillar of Russia’s disinformation and propaganda network. Exclusively for the Department of State, we are ready to prepare weekly reports about our work with a detailed overview of our content, links to the most interesting articles, videos and graphic pieces, and entertaining behind the scenes content about our work.
We are sure that these reports will be not less professional and entertaining than the paper described above. SouthFront’s direct assistance will also help Mr. Pompeo and his employees to avoid foolish factual mistakes in future (e.g.when somebody is not even able to read their own screenshot).
And last but not least, the State Department would be able to save hundreds of thousands of US taxpayer dollars. The US government would then be able to use these funds to combat the COVID-19 outbreak or help combat veterans.
Please, feel free to contact SouthFront via email: email@example.com
On August 5, the US Department of State also offered Russians $10 million for information about Russian meddling in US elections.
Taking into account the high level of regard for SouthFront work held by the US government, you also can contact us regarding this topic. $10 million would be a useful donation to SouthFront’s budget. The contact email is the same: firstname.lastname@example.org
By the way, US government personnel know our email address very well. In previous years, we have received emails from them with proposals for fruitful cooperation.
As to the style of emails sent to SouthFront, we recommend that the staff of the State Department contact their counterparts in the Department of Defense. They act and write much more professionally and are not too shy to ask about things that are interesting to them.
Using this opportunity, SouthFront wants once again to assure Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Department of State of our highest consideration.
The mighty and intangible SouthFront Steering Committee
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