Voices from Russia

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Guess Which Country is the Undisputed Champion in Election Meddling?



With the entire “Russia interfered in US democracy” story collapsing, Jimmy Dore reminded us which country is the undisputed champion in election meddling. The Carnegie Mellon University study does NOT even include coups and attempts at régime change. The study just counts when the USA tried directly to influence an election for one of the sides. Imagine the results if we added coups, régime change operations, invasions, sanctions, and bombings to the final tally. Here’s a transcript of an NPR interview on the matter:


This is hardly the first time a country tried to influence the outcome of another country’s election. By one expert’s count, the USA did it, too, more than 80 times worldwide between 1946 and 2000. That expert is Dov Levin of Carnegie Mellon University. I asked him to tell me about one election where US intervention likely affected the outcome.


One example of that was our intervention in Serbia (then, Yugoslavia), in the 2000 election there. Slobodan Milošević was running for re-election, and we didn’t want him to stay in power due to his tendency to disrupt the Balkans and his human rights violations (sic). Therefore, we intervened in various ways for the opposition candidate, Vojislav Koštunica. Moreover, we gave funding to the opposition, and we gave them training and campaigning aide. In addition, according to my estimate, that assistance was crucial in enabling the opposition to win.


How often are these interventions public versus covert?


Basically, about one-third of them are public and two-thirds of them are covert. In other words, the voters in the target don’t know before the election.


Your count doesn’t include coups or attempts at régime change. Depending on the definitions, it sounds like the tally could actually be much higher.


You’re right. I didn’t count and discounted covert coup d’états like the USA did in Iran in 1953 or in Guatemala in 1954. I only counted when the USA tried directly to influence an election for one of the sides. I didn’t discuss other types of interventions. However, if we include those, then, of course, the number could be larger.


For example, how often do other countries like Russia try to alter the outcome of elections as compared to the USA?


Well, for my dataset, the USA is the most common user of this technique. Since 1945, Russia or the USSR used it half as much. My estimate is 36 cases between 1946 to 2000. We know that the Chinese used this technique; the Venezuelans used it when the late Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías was in power, and other countries used it, too.


Arguably, the USA is more vocal than any other country about promoting democracy and democratic values around the world. Does this strike you as conflicting with that message?


It depends upon if we help the pro-democratic side (sic), as in the case of Milošević that I talked about earlier. I believe that’d be helpful for democracy. If it helps less-nicer candidates or parties, then, naturally, it can be less helpful.


Obviously, your examination of 20th-century attempts to influence elections doesn’t involve hacking because computers weren’t widespread until recently.


That’s true.


In your view, is technology dramatically changing the game… as we saw in the November election? On the other hand, is this just the latest evolution of an effort that always used whatever tools are available?


I’d say it’s more the latter. Before, without cyber-hacking tools, I’d say that the Russians or the Soviets infrequently did these types of intervention because one had to use old-style methods such as people meeting in the park in secret giving out and getting information and things like that.

23 April 2017

Alex Christoforou

The Duran


Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Serbian Politicians Negotiate Ruling Coalition

Tomislav Nikolić (1952- ), Serbian politician, leader of the Radical Party


The political parties represented in the Narodna Skupstina, the Serbian parliament, are holding talks on the formation of a ruling coalition. On Tuesday, the Radical Party and a coalition consisting of the Democratic Party and the New Serbia Party coordinated the top priorities of the future government’s policy. This was announced by Radical Party leader Tomislav Nikolić after consultations with Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica, the leader of the Democratic Party. The Socialist Party, headed by Ivica Dačić, is expected to join today. If these three major political forces, which have a majority in parliament, come to agreement, they’ll form a new coalition cabinet. Chances are high for that, given the similarity of positions held by the Radicals, Kustunica’s supporters, and the Socialists on the issue of European integration and the future of Kosovo. Aleksandr Karasev, an expert at the Institute for Slavic Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, commented on this, saying, “What should come first… Serbia’s accession to the EU, and, then, the issue of Kosovo recedes into the background, or, shall it be the struggle to retain sovereignty over Kosovo, as insisted upon by the Radicals? They aren’t against European integration, but only if the EU accepts their demand that Kosovo be recognised as part of Serbia”. The Socialists will have the final say. Meanwhile, they’ve received a tempting offer from the For A European Serbia party, which has the biggest faction in parliament. Whether this will please those who voted for the Socialist Party remains to be seen.

14 May 2008

Yevgeny Kryshkin 

Voice of Russia World Service


Monday, 10 March 2008

Serbian Government Resigns


Serbian President Boris Tadić said he’ll call early general elections after the country’s bitterly divided coalition government fell apart over policy on Kosovo. Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica announced the collapse after failing to get the cabinet to reject closer EU ties in protest at the region’s independence. All ministers in the 25-member coalition Cabinet support preserving the territorial integrity of Serbia, but nearly half of them urged the government to end all ties with the EU, this, after many of its members granted formal recognition to the UDI of Kosovo. Prime Minister Koštunica announced his resignation earlier today, and he hopes that new elections would redistribute Cabinet posts to ensure the country’s territorial inviolability, which is currently undermined by pro-European minded ministers. President  Tadić said he respected the Prime Minister’s decision and would set a date for early elections. President Tadić emphasised that Serbian economic progress was only possible in a EU framework. According to Tadić, joining the EU will certainly add to Serbia’s drive to uphold state interests regarding Kosovo. Tadić recently came to power in a bitter election, where he won a slim majority over his rival Tomislav Nikolić, a vehement opponent of the UDI of Kosovo. Koštunica is convinced that Serbia’s new parliamentary elections must be held within the terms stipulated by the Constitution. ”The government of Serbia has no united policy on Kosovo, and that’s why such a government couldn’t function any more. We should return the mandate to the people”, Koštunica said, in a clear hope to get the electorate to support Belgrade’s determination to annul Kosovo’s UDI.

9 March 2008

Voice of Russia World Service


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