Posted by Curt on 7 January, 2017 at 10:31 am. Be the first to comment!



Spies are usually thought of as bystanders who quietly steal secrets in the shadows. But the Russian version, schooled in techniques used during the Cold War against the United States, has a more ambitious goal — shaping, not just snooping on, the politics of a nation that the Soviet-era K.G.B. targeted as the “Main Adversary.”

That at least is the conclusion of a declassified report released on Friday that outlines what America’s top intelligence agencies view as an elaborate “influence campaign” ordered by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia aimed at skewing the outcome of the 2016 presidential race.

But the absence of any concrete evidence in the report of meddling by the Kremlin was met with a storm of mockery on Saturday by Russian politicians and commentators, who took to social media to ridicule the report as a potpourri of baseless conjecture.

In a message posted on Twitter, Alexey Pushkov, a member of the defense and security committee of the Russian Parliament’s upper house, ridiculed the American report as akin to C.I.A. assertions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction: “Mountain gave birth to a mouse: all accusations against Russia are based on ‘confidence’ and assumptions. US was sure about Hussein possessing WMD in the same way.”

Margarita Simonyan, the editor in chief of RT, a state-funded television network that broadcasts in English, who is cited repeatedly in the report, posted her own message on Twitter scoffing at the American intelligence community’s accusations.

“Aaa, the CIA report is out! Laughter of the year! Intro to my show from 6 years ago is the main evidence of Russia’s influence at US elections. This is not a joke!” she wrote.

Even Russians who have been critical of their government voiced dismay at the United States intelligence agencies’ account of an elaborate Russian conspiracy unsupported by solid evidence.

Alexey Kovalyov, a Russian journalist who has followed and frequently criticized RT, said he was aghast that the report had given so much attention to the television station. “I do have a beef with RT and their chief,” Mr. Kovalyov wrote in a social media post, “But they are not your nemesis, America. Please chill.”

The Kremlin, which has in the past repeatedly denied any role in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee computer system, had no immediate response to the declassified report. Mr. Putin instead made a show of business as usual, attending a church service to mark the start of Orthodox Christmas.

The report provides no new evidence to support assertions that Moscow meddled covertly through hacking and other actions to boost the electoral chances of Donald J. Trump and undermine his rival, Hillary Clinton, but rests instead on what it describes as Moscow’s long record of trying to influence America’s political system.

“Russia, like its Soviet predecessor, has a history of conducting covert influence campaigns focused on U.S. presidential elections that have used intelligence officers and agents and press placements to disparage candidates perceived as hostile to the Kremlin,” the report said. This campaign, it said, blended covert activities like hacking with public action by “Russian government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries and paid social media users or ‘trolls.’ ”

The public report did not include evidence on the sources and methods used to collect the information about Mr. Putin and his associates that intelligence officials said was in a classified version.

Mark Galeotti, an expert on Russian intelligence agencies at the Institute of International Relations in Prague, said he was skeptical of the accusation that Mr. Putin had ordered the hacking. All the same, he added, Russian spies, like their Soviet predecessors, “don’t just collect information but try to assert influence.” United States intelligence operatives, he said, have often done the same thing but the Russians, convinced that the United States orchestrated protests in Ukraine in 2014 that toppled the pro-Moscow president, Viktor F. Yanukovych, and other popular uprisings in former Soviet lands, “have a more aggressive approach to meddling in other people’s politics.”

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