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Integrity Initiative 'a Cheapjack British Troll Factory' – Commentator

CC0 / Pixabay / Hacking
Hacking - Sputnik International
Not everyone in Britain is enamoured with the government-funded Integrity Initiative (II) psy-op run by the Institute for Statecraft, political commentator David William Norris told Sputnik. According to Norris, this operation is likely to invoke sharp opposition from Britons who are tired of the anti-Russian propaganda in the media.

"Accusing Russia of meddling in the affairs of others, the UK is actively seeking to do precisely that and not even trying to hide the fact!" David William Norris, political commentator and former college lecturer, told Sputnik, commenting on the UK-funded Integrity Initiative (II) psy-op orchestrated by the Institute for Statecraft.

On 5 November, the hacktivist group Anonymous started leaking information about the UK-funded operation, which kicked off in 2015 and aimed at combating "Russian propaganda". However, as it turned out, the II was targeting not only Russian "disinformation", but prominent political figures in EU member states, including the British leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Bernard Corbyn.

"Of course, the UK seeks to intervene politically in what goes on in other countries. According to the leaked documents, such influencers are currently operative with so-called 'clusters' in Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Greece, The Netherlands, Lithuania, Norway, Serbia and Montenegro. More 'clusters' are planned in at least 20 countries outside Europe", Norris pointed out. "Answering to a contact within the British Embassy in each country where they operate, ‘influencers' liaise with these II networks".

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The Institute for Statecraft's official webpage describes the II as follows:  "This international project brings together in a network of clusters across Europe and North America people who understand the threat posed to Western nations by a flood of disinformation, deception and lies which is being put out by those opposed to Western concepts of liberalism, freedom and democracy. Countries such as Russia, China, Iran and Venezuela and entities such as Daesh [ISIS/ISIL]* are showing increasing sophistication in their attempts to influence the policies and undermine the societies of the West, which, despite flaws and failures, remain broadly democratic".

The political commentator has drawn attention to the fact that the aforementioned statement was strikingly similar to that recently made by Chief of the General Staff Mark Carleton-Smith: the latter "claimed that Russia is 'indisputably' a greater threat to Britain than Islamic terrorism, than ISIS*, sentiments dutifully repeated by the Polish foreign minister, Witold Waszczykowski".

According to Norris, "the whole issue of Russophobia, of which this is but one element, is complex and in its most basic form involves the determination of the West to intimidate Russia until it conforms to a Western 'world order' and its 'values' which she rightly resists".

"Unable to achieve this militarily as they have done in other countries, they resort to unleashing corrosive efforts at destabilising the country", he noted.

However, "the truth is that Russia, unlike Britain, is not willing to surrender an ounce of its national sovereignty to an outside power nor subject its people to the degenerate ‘values' that have all but destroyed us in the West", Norris emphasised.

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"The close connection of these organisations to the British government is self-evident", the political commentator stressed.

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Following the Anonymous leaks, British Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan revealed that in FY 2017/18, the FCO funded the Institute for Statecraft's Integrity Initiative £296,500 ($372,020). This FY, the FCO is pouring a further £1,961,000 ($2,460,466) into the endeavour. "Both have been funded through grant agreements", Duncan stated in a written response requested by Labour MP Chris Williamson.

But that is not all, according to Norris: The Institute for Statecraft is run by highly-experienced defence professionals.

"Director and co-founder of the Institute for Statecraft is Christopher N. Donnelly who from 2003-2010 served at UK's Defence Academy as head of the Advanced Research and Assessment Group", the political commentator elaborated. "Previously in 1989 he was special adviser to the NATO secretary general and served under four secretaries. His other positions include adviser to three UK defence secretaries and he was a member of Margaret Thatcher's Soviet Advisory Team. He was head of the British Army's Soviet Studies Research Centre at Sandhurst. At the end of the Cold War he was intimately involved with the building up of NATO".

According to Norris, it appears that Donnelly's current interests "are what he perceives to be the new threats to security and the restructuring of military and other forces to counter these threats".

However, "not everyone in Britain is enamoured with what is being done and believe there are serious questions needing an answer", he added.

On 11 December, Labour MP Williamson called for a comprehensive investigation into the Integrity Initiative, emphasising that "democracies don't behave like this".

Why MSM, Foreign Gov'ts Remain Silent About Integrity Initiative

Meanwhile, Western MSM remains largely silent about Anonymous' disclosure: "Why do Western corporate media outlets, politicians and governments continue to ignore these leaks? It is not because they are secret, they are not. They all know what is going on, so really it is not news", the political commentator underscored.

"Apart from this, it can only be because they all share the objectives of the Integrity Initiative to destabilise Russia," he said. "Their daily splurge of primitive Russophobic bilge is evidence enough".

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He presumed that journalists listed in the Anonymous files might be bound to those reporters and pundits who "appear regularly to disgorge their anti-Russian bile".

Norris believes that yet another explanation for the MSM's silence is that "the British public should not be made fully aware of this astounding operation lest they all be accused of hypocrisy when pointing the finger at Russia and their arguments are seen for what they are".

"Governments, particularly in Europe will ignore these leaks because many are in on the plot; they like what they see and have openly echoed similar sentiments against Russia", he foresees, adding that "Lithuania openly supports II".

Still, according to former college lecturer, the "Integrity Initiative despite its high-sounding name and inflated rhetoric and despite its high-flying recruits, it is a cheapjack British troll factory".

"The insolence of these people is breath-taking!" he highlighted. "Their methods are perverse and dishonest, but then they have no other option because their cause is also perverse and dishonest".

Having said that, the commentator presumed that "not daring to risk at ‘hot' war against Russia, setting aside the devastation that it would cause to all sides, such a course of action would invoke sharp opposition from the people of Britain, of this I am certain, notwithstanding the torrent of anti-Russian sentiment in our media".

*Daesh (ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State) is a terrorist group banned in Russia.

The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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