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Beacon Project Shines Light on Moscow's Meddling

April 6, 2016

Washington, D.C.—IRI is launching a new program aimed at countering the increasing threat of Russian soft power and propaganda.  The Beacon Project will maximize IRI’s long-held European partnerships with political parties, think tanks, activists and media organizations to inform European leaders about the destabilizing efforts of the Russian Federation’s misinformation campaign across the continent.

“Moscow is actively trying to sway public opinion throughout Europe as a way to expand its military and political clout,” said Jan Surotchak, Europe regional director for IRI. “It’s not just in places like eastern Ukraine. It’s in places we once believed were firmly in the democratic camp, such as Visegrad, the Baltic States, and much of the Balkans. IRI is one of the few organizations in a position to quickly and effectively counteract this misinformation.”

Moscow’s propaganda takes at least five common forms, including:

  • Support for far right political parties, like the Front National in France
  • Support for anti-NATO and anti-EU political leaders and organizations
  • Manufacturing false incidents to “weaponized” migration
  • Exporting kleptocratic economic models
  • Propping up dubious democracy and election monitoring groups

The Beacon Project will develop political coalitions and produce materials that debunk Russian deception campaigns. It will be guided by a diverse steering committee well-versed in Russian duplicity, including former ambassadors of Slovakia and the Czech Republic, a Lithuanian member of the European Parliament and a former chairman of the United States House Intelligence Committee.

“This project will shine a light on the growing threat of Russian propaganda at a time when it is urgently needed and provide an essential resource for protecting European democracy,” said Surotchak.

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