A glimpse of the future for those supporting these kinds of laws because they have nothing to hide.
EDIT: After watching / reading the article and also the comments about parallel construction, there is indeed an inordinate amount of information being just there for the taking.
The BBC did a documentary on this intelligence black market some time ago, which shows the magnitude of it. I can't really imagine how it's like living over there, think 4-chan-on-steroids levels of doxxing that can be unleashed by anyone with some petty cash.
Before surveillance was a thing, a variation that was ordinary in TV shows was for the heroes to break very important rules/principles they were sworn to uphold. For example, roughing up suspect, or even expressly denying them some procedural right gratuitously, almost as if the show was trying to condition people that those rights aren't actually rights for some other kind of people.
The rules were in the way, and the heroes cared and were tough, and did what needed to be done, to fight the bad thing.
It seems a dangerous idea, in a society based on people buying into admirable rights and responsibilities, but from what I've seen even casually and anecdotally (as a techie, not a humanities researcher or social scientist), the idea seems to have been drip-fed for most/all of our lives. So long, I couldn't guess whether it was an idea that already resonated strongly with people, and media just pandered to that, or it was planted/nurtured by media.
This famous speech starts later in the progression towards a much worse situation, but seems like it might be relevant: "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_they_came_..."
It always seemed incredibly fanciful and far-fetched - and then Snowden and Trump happened. It turns out the movie was just slightly ahead of its time.
The things that governments are capable of doing are rarely secret. They leak out over time, and you'll see them portrayed in niche culture long before they become undeniable public knowledge. For example, off the top of my head, the satellite photos published amidst the 1998 missile strike of the Al Shifa pharmaceutical factory (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Shifa_pharmaceutical_factor...) are the types of evidence that inform the private sector, including authors and screenwriters. I'm sure similar photos and descriptions were publicly available much earlier than that, so the generic ability to track people on rooftops via satellite (notwithstanding all the little gotchas that aren't fit for storytelling) was more than plausible at that point, especially considering that then as now the military doesn't typically release material that discloses their best capabilities.
I used to have a link to a pre-9/11, accidental admission in a magazine interview by a general about the Navy's ability to tap undersea fiber optic cables. Though at that point I think it was already assumed the U.S. performed such missions--certainly by Russia and China, but even among intelligence geeks--which is probably why he didn't think much of the comment. (IIRC, the topic was a submarine designed for tapping undersea cable, though at that time it was only "public knowledge" that it could tap traditional copper cables, not fiber optic. He impliedly--only barely shy of explicitly--admitted that it also tapped fiber optic cables.)
What's fanciful is the degree and extent of corruption assumed in these narratives. People seem to think it's more plausible simply because of the true-to-life character of the technological portrayals. But NEVER forget that the principal aim of movies is to elicit strong emotions by leveraging common fears and desires, suspending disbelief by deftly mixing fiction with non-fiction. And I don't mean to preach; it's definitely a life-long struggle for everyone to differentiate culturally constructed narratives from reality.
 E.g. Big Brother, the particularized fear of powerlessness that comes when mixing it with political cynicism.
One salient difference between the characters of Butcher and "King Henry" (this is not specific) is that Henry is a king and Butcher is a somewhat violent homeless dude. One deeply suspects suggestions to see them as somehow the same.
It would be a considerably more "experimental" program if a character like Butcher were the actual protagonist.
As evidence in favor of the latter possibility, note that we have long provided government/military funding and other resources for the production of media that gives the military and "intelligence services" editorial control:
Intentional or not, very very likely to condition the audience into regarding civil rights and rules of evidence as “mere” anything. Goes back to at least _Hill Street Blues_ and _Baretta,_ probably _Kojak_ too. Likely much farther than that. (Though _Columbo_ didn't display this attitude, at least not as flagrantly, IIRC?)
This has been the reality in China for a while now and the result has been... largely fine. eg: This Reuter's piece from 2018 where you could get a picture of anyone's face for $1USD and a copy of their phone records for 50c: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-dataprivacy/data-du...
Like, if you ask a representative sample of people living in China what they feel the top 10 pros and cons of living in China were, that all of their personal information is for sale for a few bucks would not make it onto many people's lists on either side, it doesn't really affect your day to day life.
There are a lot of theoretical privacy attacks that sound scarily creepy but privacy advocates tend to play up the hypothetical and not look at how empirically impactful such things end up being.
Tragically, given the mass atrocities perpetrated throughout human history, it's inevitable that records of who people are, their race, ethnicity, religion, political affiliation, sexual orientation, and/or other data about them (which is now collected and distributed at a larger scale than at any time in human history) will be used to commit more mass atrocities.
We are living on borrowed time.
Whereas before some people could escape detection or escape being rounded up, the next time the slaughter will be much more effective.
Also, in the past it was much harder to detect people who didn't stand out in some obvious way (through skin color, mode of dress, or obvious behavior), now there are records of people's interests and communications which make them much easier to target.
That did not exist before except through a relatively primitive network of informants, or unless the people outed themselves through publishing their writing.
Not to mention how much more advanced tracking technology is these days, and how much harder it is to hide.
All of this put together makes the current surveillance aparatus infinitely more sophisticated and powerful than it was throughout almost all of the 20th Century.
It really is just a matter of time until it gets used by people with an agenda and/or a grudge against some victim group(s). Saying it hasn't happened yet so it won't is just wishful thinking.
When the have the cooperation and participation of the military, the secret police, and the general population (as has often been the case in many atrocities, genocides, and pogroms in the past) it's even worse, and by the time the video evidence gets out (if it ever does) it's too late to save the victims, assuming there's even anyone in the position to do so.
"Mass atrocities" are difficult to carry out, and conceal, for very long.
It doesn't help one bit that privacy is gone.
So you are not responsbile for your actions because you're not at the top? So many great tragedies throughout history where this was the justification and we're still stuck with this mentality...
What is 'morally right' is just not the issue there. Russia will need to go through some major development steps before moral issues can even be meaningfully talked about.
:D sorry, could not resist.
There were still thousands of nazis everywhere in government institutions like courts and police. The German term "Altnazi" (old nazi) describes nazis that were able to fly under the radar and still do their jobs until retirement.
The only way you can get to high position in police or special agency hierarchy is by corruption: either by family connections or just paying a lot of money.
> A glimpse of the future for those supporting these kinds of laws because they have nothing to hide.
I don't think that's necessarily true, because pervasive and tolerated corruption is required to get an end state like that. If a country has "[those] kinds of laws," but unlawful access is investigated and prosecuted, then the data will remain (more or less) restricted to police and government investigators.
So, even though you still have to worry about the police and government abusing the data, as well as certain powerful or connected people, you won't have to worry so much about stuff like your SO buying your phone records for $10.
Furthermore the conclusions are always the ones they'd want (e.g. "Russia shot down an airliner").
If Bellingcat did the exact same thing in reverse and exclusively and regularly blew the lid on secretive NATO operations using morsels of information pieced together online the idea that it would be FSB backed would barely even be considered controversial. It would be assumed because... well, because Occam's razor.
Julian Assange leaked from everyone including Russia and he was designated a Russian spy because he didn't leak "enough" on Russia ffs.
Russia seems to shamelessly go around assassinating people so they make easy pickings for him.
One of his latest investigations and podcasts was some random African country (Cameroon) based on video evidence online.
A better question to ask is why hasn’t Russia or China freaked out at NSA hacks? Like the west just did with SolarWinds (I’m sure the western media would eat it up and so would we here). We had to wait for a western (Snowden) to find our rights are being violated domestically. The answer is Russia and China are on their own spree and keep any of the failed NSA ops quiet (assuming they exist). So there’s not much to go on for some random open intelligence blog. Russia et al don’t care about defending rights or exposing evil.
But Russia and the other mafia states provide plenty of open source evil to sort through.
I also don’t see the US shooting down a plane with a hundred people and denying it or openly assassinating their enemies in ‘enemy’ territory.
There’s so many answers here.
That's pretty much exactly what Christo Grozev said in one of the recent interviews. They investigate government wrongdoing, and russia has been doing a lot of shady things in the last few years. Plus he lived in Russia and speaks russian, so that coupled with the corruption and tons of available data makes Russia a good target for his investigations.
We are moving into a multipolar world and interesting times.
> This millennium? Probably Syria.
How did you come to that conclusion? Though the question is far to ambiguous (what does "killed by" mean, exactly?), I'd assume Germany would be ahead of Syria, given that any reasonable count would include those killed in the Holocaust plus allied casualties from WWI and WWII (where all cases where there's clearly established intent to kill by the regime). The Syrian civil was was bad, but not that bad. I'm not aware of anything of similar magnitude there after 1900, and the numbers of anything before would be lessened by lower populations and less effective military technology.
I mean, it's pretty hard to dispute such a conclusion when you have social media posts tracking the movement from Russia of a Russian-made anti-aircraft missile launcher with identification markings to an area near where MH17 crashed, posts of rocket contrails at the time of the crash, then more posts tracing the same launcher leaving the area and traveling back to Russian territory, sans a missile.
In a 1977 Rolling Stone magazine article, "The CIA and the Media," reporter Carl Bernstein expanded upon the Church Committee's report and said that around 400 press members were considered assets by the CIA.
Undoubtedly this continues to this day.
Also here's the full phone call with the FSB agent, with english transcript: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwvA49ZXnf8
Navalny isn't alone in this; I get the same reaction when I hear about teenagers lying about their age to go to war, or activists spending decades in prison and continuing to fight as soon as they leave, or even Hannibal crossing the Alps. Independently of whether the overarching cause is rational or beneficial or not, these acts of living are almost completely alien to the sensibilities of a modern day worker in an industrialized attention economy.
We all live in the world where telecoms spy on everyone's location and where travel information is accessible to unlimited number of people (it's super easy to get air travel info in western countries too). It's just funny how adding a bit of corruption can completely compromise state's own spy agency.
I said it multiple times how ridiculous I find that so many people readily buy into these stories. But... I don't know now, this was pretty convincing, to be honest. Not really a "proof" of anything, of course — this guy could be anyone, and of course it is really weird how he didn't recognize Navalny's voice and talked about all this stuff over the insecure line... But I can believe that. I mean, if it was fake, it was some really impressive fake, with much better script and acting than anything I can now remember. My biggest issue was believing that people doing important stuff in FSS can really be useless idiots, and this was such a convincing portrayal of such an idiot that I'm starting to accept it.
Anyway, I'm looking forward to hear more of that story.
The one they got to talk was in the cleanup crew, so probably not as familiar with him.
That being said, as I already told, I think it is plausible. People often don't recognize other people by voice, despite being very much familiar with each other.
I don't think you would... The voice alone would give it away. There's no way the leader of the opposition isn't famous enough to be recognisable on the phone...
I mean, people do make mistakes. And this was very convincing portrayal of a clumsy dude who is prone to making such mistakes. Very realistic fool.
That spy is likely to experience "health problems," sooner or later...
Youtube video will get huge amount of likes and views. But that's it.
I mean, shit, four years of Trump and the media for the most part just made fun of him. I struggle to think what kind of news would result in the public demanding accountability.
Something where the public understood the connection between the policy and their well-being. Insider trading doesn't take money out of anyone's bank. BLM was stood for "black lives matter," not "implement these specific police forms." "Stop the war in Vietnam" was the most recent run of protests that I can remember that had a clear message, although maybe someone who knows more history can correct me.
Still hurts non-insiders though, which is not just an elite minority of investors, but includes anyone with a pension for example. It’s illegal for a reason.
Think about the results of "inside" trading. Information that was previously the sole property of insiders is released, through its effect on the prices of securities, to the public at large. This is a good thing for the public. It is a bad thing only for executives who haven't completed the trading schemes they've based on that information.
Burr is under investigation by FBI: https://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/article247137814.html
Loeffler was cleared by Senate ethics committee and isn't being investigated by FBI:
But is currently running in the GA run off so it's getting discussed, political impact unclear.
But if the economy turns south....
Did that guy get tricked into spilling the beans to Litvinenko?
The whole point of using biological weapons like these is that it's almost impossible to prove that poisoning actually took a place. No one would ever find out for sure if he would die and only reason he still alive is few lucky conditions.
In his earlier investigation video Navalny himself told about two previous cases where he and his wife was likely almost killed, but they never suppose it was poisoning since it's impossible to understand it unless you actually dying. Only now they found out that the same FSB agents followed them on the trips earlier where they became sick with no reason.
The reason his regime uses methods like Novichok and polonium poisoning is because he wants to send a message along with killing. He's always going to deny doing it even when it's obvious that he did.
Obviously it's just my view, but to give you an example. Nemtsov was one of old Russian political leader who been neither popular nor real danger to regime end up just shoot right in front of Kremlin. And it's caused a lot of backslash and place of his death is still PITA for Putin regime.
Navalny is more popular by two orders of magnitude at least. On top of that everyone know that he's being watched literally 24/7. If he die in suspicios car accident or something like that it's might actually trigger a lot of bad things or might finally put some real beneficiaries of regime (like oligarchs, kids and other family members) under sanctions.
It's not that hard to get someone killed in Russia, but really this is not Stalin's totalitarian country and no one want risk losing all their capital and property in western countries. On other side anyone can die of heart attack during flight and it's impossibly hard to prove it was poisoning afterwards.
It seems like for them to get away with the Novichok poisoning they should've chosen to assassinate Navalny locally so they're be little chance of getting the victim to a neutral location for treatment or autopsy.
That's just my speculation, ultimately this whole situation could be explained by malice and incompetence.
Of course they do. As individuals, the people at the top are always virtually powerless without support.
This is why dictators always take control of their country's media and spin a narrative that makes them seem innocent, heroes, or victims of foreign intervention.
If no one had any means to hold them to account they wouldn't bother doing any of this, nor would they bother to spy on, much less assassinate any opposition figures, and their acts would be a lot more brazen, without any attempts to disguise them or feign innocence.
Russia has had multiple revolutions in the last century, not to mention constant power struggles within the government itself.
Anyone in power in Russia is going to be keenly aware of this, and know how important it is to keep public opinion on their side and crush any opposition.
I've read your post and realized that, though not affiliated with the country in any way, even I know a few Putin's opponents who died somewhat unexpectedly. A blogger Anton Nosik comes to mind. Can it be that killings are more common than we think?
Schekochikhin, Kara-Murza poisoning.
Zhvaniya in Georgia.
Yuschenko, Babchenko, Sheremet in Ukraine.
Berezovsky, Perepelichny, Patarkatsishvili, Skripals, Litvinenko in UK.
Tsepov, Manevitch in Putin's native Saint Petersbourg.
Nemtsov, Politkovskaya, Navalny in Russia.
Also some bad guys, like Khattab, who was killed via poisoned letter.
By no means it's an exhaustive list.
Not Nosik, though. He was a well-known addict and kind of had it coming, so there's no commonly shared suspicion around this.
Imagine how many things should have gone right for him if his plan all along was to let people know he was behind the assassination:
- Navalny had to survive the poisoning or die under very suspicious circumstances — something that couldn't be attributed to, say, anaphylaxis.
- His relatives had to request that he be transported to a country that had the capability for testing for those substances, and the permission given. Alternatively, had he died, someone should have requested for an independent forensic examination in such a country.
- The discovery of novichok poisoning shouldn't have triggered any sanctions from the Western countries, specifically there shouldn't have been any consequences for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. I don't think anyone would argue that sanctions against Russia are somehow in Putin's interest.
This is the level of sophistication in planning and execution that nobody, let alone Russians, is likely capable of.
I don't get the obvoius connection to the government. Surely there are alot of potential perpetrators.
"ChEIs may be used as drugs for Alzheimer's and myasthenia gravis, and also as chemical weapons and insecticides." - Wiki on the poison.
Absolutely. This was in fact how a couple of other opposition figures, such as Anna Politkovskaya and Boris Nemtsov, were eliminated. This whole cloak-and-dagger pantomime involving chemical weapons is hard to explain, unless what they wanted was a seemingly natural death that was not traceable directly to Kremlin.
Actually, part of this agent's orders was to scrub the underwear clean after the poisoning. It was public knowledge that Putin was trailing this guy, but I believe they wanted to keep it unknown that they tried to assassinate him.
Any silovik worth his salt would refuse to discuss such a hot topic over an open line. Also, some people noticed their talk is not even close to how two professionals both working in the kontora would speak. And how come 'the spy' didn't recognize his target's voice and manner of speaking? How come he didn't cross check 'the assistant' with his boss?
Not to mention that Navalny having such information about FSB agents means he's got some suspicious connections. Wouldn't he go to jail for this when he's back to Russia?
First he had to have access to them to put poison. Then he later got access to them again to scrub them clean of the poison. I guess Navalny has no security whatsoever where he stays?
The first part we'll never know, but he really has no security and it is known that he's always the only tenant of his hotel room. Might have come into his room in the morning and sprayed them with Novichok while he was showering.
Product idea: secure suitcase with a camera that shows people who've tried to open/tamper with it while you were not there.
It'd be interesting if the hotel staff can be questioned about government agents demanding access, but maybe the staff/eyewitness has since been "neutralized". Or if the agents were sophisticated, they'd have used widely available exploits to clone hotel keycards. Or just pick the lock. The guy on the phone even said they only go in when they know it's secure, i.e. after the cameras have been switched off.
I forgot to mention, that it must've been one of their jobs to figure out which pair of underpants he will be wearing the next day, i.e. which pair from presumably a few he had in the suitcase is the last clean pair. Ah, the glamorous job of a KGB/FSB agent.
Interestingly, I wonder if it meant he could only be targetted the day before he got on a long plane trip... otherwise he might put on the pair too early, get sick while still on the ground, and manage to get to a hospital.
Thanks for the spit-take. Note to self: put underpants in same security category as my phone.
1) A trained FSB operative completely fell for a convincing enough social engineer, armed with nothing but caller-id spoofing software. Even though he was extremely apprehensive in the beginning of the call, he was slowly "eased into" talking top-secret stuff on the non-secure phoneline. This was so incredible that his last words on the call were "I was shocked by your questions. Was this OK that we talked about this on a non-secure line?". That's crazy. What chance do normal people have against such a good social engineer?
2) The amount of pro-Putin commenters in this thread (mind that some of these comments are dead), claiming that this is a CIA false flag or some such.
(I mean, sure, I'm sure they have people that fit your description. I just don't buy that this particular operation was entrusted to that level of person.)
Exercising my self judgement doesn't make me pro Putin, nor does it make me a conspiracy theorist when I wonder why the flu killed more people in France in one month (jan 2017) than COVID in 10 months.
I have a brain, I use it. Maybe sometimes I come to the wrong conclusion but at least I don't just regurgitate what the media feeds me.
So in this case I find strange that the super Russian spies never manage to kill anyone even when they use military grade chemical agents that are supposed to kill full cities (remember the Skripal case, this one was fishy as hell too).
That's actually not surprising. Chemical weapons turn out to have lousy effectiveness in terms of killing people. In 1995, a terrorist group released sarin into 5 subway cars during Tokyo's rush hour and managed to kill a whopping 12 people in the process. A single grenade would likely have killed more people. Admittedly, sarin isn't the most lethal chemical agent, but it is one that was actually used in chemical weapons programs, and the stronger agents implicated are only like 10× more lethal. The notion that "military-grade chemical agents" are "supposed to kill full cities" is propaganda about the effectiveness of chemical weapons; it's not a realistic assessment of their actual capabilities.
At the same time, there's also a world of difference between a targeted killing of a single individual versus a generalized killing of a large mass of people. The mechanisms you need to use to achieve this are different: in one case, you want to deliver a more spiked concentration of chemical to one individual, preferably in a manner that allows it to take effect when those who delivered it are nowhere near. But killing an entire city requires you to have extremely fast diffusion with extremely high initial concentrations, so that you can kill people before they start to run away (or don protective gear). That someone screws up the dosing when trying to use it as a targeted weapon is easily plausible.
Twice? What kind of first class spy agency would miss a target, let alone 2 (Skripal and Navalny)?
Murdering someone is not a hard feat especially when you are a government agency with all the resources necessary to do so.
In the case of Navalny, it was even easier as they were "playing" at home.
What's the point of re-using a super duper chemical nerve agent that already demonstrated that it was not a sure deal?
Now it's possible the Russians lost all the KGB experience (remember the Bulgarian umbrella?) and are subpar spies. Why do we need to be afraid of them then?
I believe that when a spy story ends up in the press, it's because we are the targets for propaganda. Else it stays in the shadows.
My theory (which is just that, a theory) is that the US is trying hard to block the Russian gas pipeline to Europe, and this kind of stories allow them to impose sanctions.
For the entire 2016-2017 flu season, not just January 2017, there were 14,400 deaths from the flu in France. 
The latest death count for COVID in France is 60,549, even after all the lockdown measures were put in place.
Sorry this is in French:
> En outre, l’épidémie de grippe hivernale amorcée fin 2016 a entraîné un pic de décès exceptionnel en janvier 2017 : 67 000 décès en France métropolitaine ce mois-ci.
It basically says there was an exceptional peak of 67k deaths due to the flu for the month of January 2017.
INSEE is the official French statistics agency.
What I believe to be a more accurate translation:
"In addition, the winter flu epidemic that began at the end of 2016 led to an exceptional peak in deaths in January 2017: 67,000 deaths in mainland France this month."
If another world power was investigated over a potential assassination and had such lax control over civilian personal data, would it be as easy to derive the chain of command and movements of their agents?
Would the cover identities be so shoddily arranged as to use the surnames of their spouses to make them easier to remember?
Or is this unique to Russia and this particular organization of the FSB.
Similarly, regarding the ongoing Solarwind attack, what is the tradecraft of the folks involved in that mission. Not only their opsec but in their own personal coms? Will we see an independent investigation that reveals the calls and networks of the hackers?
> In the Soviet Union, the KGB was a state within a state. Now former KGB officers are running the state. They have custody of the country’s 6,000 nuclear weapons, entrusted to the KGB in the 1950s, and they now also manage the strategic oil industry renationalized by Putin. The KGB successor, rechristened FSB, still has the right to electronically monitor the population, control political groups, search homes and businesses, infiltrate the federal government, create its own front enterprises, investigate cases, and run its own prison system. The Soviet Union had one KGB officer for every 428 citizens. Putin’s Russia has one FSB-ist for every 297 citizens.
The most disturbing piece of cinema I have ever seen.
And shockingly enough rather accurate.
Serfdom in Russia was officially ended in 1861. Slavery in the US was ended in 1865.
So I am not sure what "worst human rights situation" are you talking about. This is without even taking into consideration bunch of other countries with horrible abuse of humans. King Leopold anyone? Singling out Russia in this department is a hypocrisy.
I don't thing there's much of a meaningful different between authoritarian government and totalitarian government aside from the available technology. If the czars had their way, they'd be in Putin's shoes right now, doing Putin things.
What ultimately led to mass unrest and the February and October Revolutions in Russia was the same huge wealth inequality as France prior to 1789, and people don’t typically use terms like “authoritarian” or “totalitarian” to describe the Ancien Régime.
Sure, it would be impractical for the Tsar to exercise this authority at the individual level all the time, but all the various local vassals only had their power subject to the Tsar's unchecked authority and when the Tsar wanted them to do something, their choices were compliance or ruin.
> people don’t typically use terms like “authoritarian” or “totalitarian” to describe the Ancien Régime.
Alexis de Tocqueville does, in L'Ancien Régime et la Révolution 
"In this book, de Tocqueville develops his main theory about the French revolution, the theory of continuity, in which he states that even though the French tried to dissociate themselves from the past and from the autocratic old regime, they eventually reverted to a powerful central government."
Org charts with names and faces should accompany a far wider range of malfeasance. I get this is a nice, cute, morally unambiguous story against a state enemy so CNN can do this, but there are many environmental disasters and domestic political decisions that can be traced up and down the chain.
It would be great for things like DDT, the petroleum industry denying their own global warming studies, tobacco denying their own cancer studies.
I don't doubt that the British secret services have adjusted the official story, but the idea that there is something genuinely fishy going on requires real evidence. His waffle-ing about Bellingcat being warmongers (if I recall his wording correctly) is similarly uninspiring.
Maybe you have another link with objections to his objections?
As such, here are the facts in the Skripal case: https://www.counterterrorism.police.uk/salisbury/
Yeah, but the guy on the linked-to page is not making claims. He's just asking why.
It would be far more useful for you or someone else to provide a link that answered his specific questions in detail rather than give a link to a non-specific information dump that does not specifically address those questions.
An information dump is far more beneficial to the discussion of the case than a discredited former ambassador who tends to side with kleptocratic maniacs in Russia
The Bellingcat story has a weird number of just-so leaps "e.g. this telephone number is one that regularly called these spies" that suggests either that they hired a bunch of actors and put on a show or they received high level intelligence from a nation state actor (e.g. CIA).
Here's a ~2 year old BBC article talking about all this data being easily available for purchase online in a lot of detail with a reporter ordering their phone location history:
It had sounded like former agents of all different countries have access and relationships with even adversarial countries' agents.
In any case, it's easy enough for anyone with a reasonable doubt in what they are reading to check this. Bellingcat claims that anyone capable of Googling can get dox on any random Russian, including someone high up in the FSB. So try it! Pick a random person off the internet and go get those dox. It's a free for all, right?
Otherwise what you are reading is a poorly retconned explanation of how a foreign intelligence operation got some data.
> Otherwise what you are reading is a poorly retconned explanation of how a foreign intelligence operation got some data.
Like pointed out elsewhere, it's not "Bellingcat" claiming that it's easy to do -- it's literally everyone.
* The Bell: https://thebell.io/million-za-vseh-skolko-stoilo-rassledovan...
* BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-48348307
* Kommersant: https://www.kommersant.ru/doc/4616645
* Teiss: https://www.teiss.co.uk/moscow-car-owners-data-sale/
I have no interest in navigating the stolen databases myself but plenty of other journalists have and confirm just everything exists like Belligcat says. Is it possible that Bellingcat were tipped off and used the databases to parallel construct their investigation? Sure? I guess? But it's exactly how they have performed many of their other investigations in Russia so I find it highly unlikely.
Here's an independent russian newspaper estimating how much it'd cost to get all this data on the black market (note that they don't even question if it's possible to do it as everybody knows that it is possible)
They list which databases you'd buy it from and for how much. Their total estimate is about a million rubles, ~$13000
Here's another large russian newspaper:
"For Navalny's investigation internet and some cash was enough" - "Experts interviewed by "Kommersant" confirm that flight receipts with passport numbers of passengers, their phone numbers and geo-tagged billing of the latter can be found on the black market at a price of 2-40 thousand rubles per request."
Also, it's really that cheap.
But here I am asked to believe a story in which there is an evil dictator that has a chokehold on an entire country, yet is somehow unable to get rid of a blogger/YouTuber. The blogger in question is acting completely independently and is not propped up by any government force. It is though his pure bravery and resourcefulness that he is able to evade the evil dictator's ploys.
I can't help but think that there are parallels in this story to... Star Wars. There we also have an invincible freedom fighter improbably taking on a fearsome adversary. Except even in Star Wars we learn that all is not what it seems: the reason the dark lord could not kill the freedom fighter was because he didn't actually want to (him being his son and all, sorry for any spoilers if you still have not seen Star Wars).
And here I am asked to believe a story less plausible than the plot of Star Wars. I find this insults my intelligence.
Yet both Skripals survived. Instead, Russians assassinated a random UK citizen, Dawn Sturgess.
The pattern of incompetence fits nicely.
And yet you repeat official russian propaganda word for word, including not directly naming Navalny and using the Putin's favorite "blogger/YouTuber", "The blogger in question".
Only forgot to call him "that berlin's patient" and you are ready to work on russian state television.
Also that "smear campaign" was watched over 10 million times in 10 hours in russia, because actual russians that live in russia care when the government tries to murder it's critics.
I watched the video too so I am part of the 10M. It's very well made. Most people don't have a pinboard with string on it a-la Silence of the Lambs. I got a chuckle out of the tropes.
Look, you and I have to work for a living. Who pays Navalny's bills? And no, I don't believe him when he says it is "anonymous donors". Putin is scum, but I don't think Navalny is who he says either.
More importantly, I think this whole "Russian bot" meme is incredibly damaging. Dehumanizing your opponent is standard practice for war, and this feels exactly like preparation for one. I love both countries. I have ties to both. The last thing I want is for them to fight.
Russian duma is rubber-stamping insane restrictive laws literally every month, to the point that people have been calling it "a crazy printer". You can get arrested for posting memes on facebook or standing by yourself with an A4 piece of paper with a political message. The courts are corrupt and have a 99.8% conviction rate. Almost all real opposition is barred from participating in any elections through very restrictive requirements plus random denials that they cannot dispute because the court system is corrupt/broken. Opposition/journalist offices get raided monthly by the police that confiscate all of their electronics. Now people are getting shot and poisoned with increasing frequency. It's a real fucking dystopia here after 20 years of unchecked rule by a single guy and it's getting worse, fast.
I don't really care for Navalny aside from his willingness to stand up to all of that. All of his movements, accounts, connections, everything has been monitored by the government for over a decade. That's not a conspiracy, Putin himself confirms it all. If he had any dirt on him, it'd all be public and he'd be in jail for treason a looong time ago. An entire FSB team of 8 people has been tailing him for over three years, again, confirmed by Putin. Yet all they throw at him is that he's an "irrelevant blogger".
Also bots are not a meme, that's a thing. I don't know anything about the american election interference, but IRA office in Olgino has been a thing for almost a decade, Novaya Gazeta reported on them in 2013 (Six of their journalists have been murdered in the last couple decades btw). The people working in those buildings are not bots, but actual people getting paid to post pro government things: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_Research_Agency#Saint...
As for passport data there is tons of points of leakage too since Russia have well-centralised online government services and tons of people have user-access to these databases. E.g people in police, medical services, education, tax departments, local government, etc.
And obviously salary of most people with such access is well below $1000 / month after taxes so they are happy to sell any information for few hundred dollars. Imagine it: all spy agency staff profiles don't have "TOP SECRET. PLEASE DON'T LEAK THIS" warning on it,
> “I don’t want to be too dramatic, but we love this,” said Marc Polymeropolous, the CIA’s former deputy chief of operations for Europe and Eurasia.
> When former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned, it was Bellingcat that was first to publicly identify the two Russian military intelligence operatives that had traveled to the U.K. to spritz the door handle of the Skripals’ home with the Soviet-era nerve agent.
> “Whenever we had to talk to our liaison partners about it, instead of trying to have things cleared or worry about classification issues, you could just reference their work,” said Polymeropolous, who retired from the CIA in 2019.
Much more likely they have a mole in the Russian government, FWIW. Autocrats are, in general, broadly hated by their own bureaucracies. That's why they do purges and murder opponents to begin with. But yes, clearly there was some level of intelligence work needed to make this happen, you can't just look up "state poisoner" in an index of professionals.
As an average educated Russian I wonder, what do you imagine they would tell them?
As per John Le Carré's Moscow rules: 1. Assume nothing.
I'm only asking because I'm surprised an actual agent would be so verbose via phone, regardless of how good Navalny was at pretending.
Is it just due to the reputation of the investigators (bellingcat and co.)?
And therefore you suspect it's faked? Well, why would Navalny do this? Doing this and being caught would be a great way for Navalny to destroy his reputation and all the work he's been trying to do despite the actually, literally, deadly dangers.
And besides, the Russian agents don't seem to be highly capable, for example one of them brought taxi receipts from their HQ to the Moscow airport to their mission, and then got caught with it: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/russia-hack-...
You gotta love the stupid bureaucracy of needing secret agents to provide receipts for presumably reimbursement...
Corruption is expensive, and not just in terms of money...
Thats the cherry on top
However, this particular news referring to my home country and I express my own opinion.
But the evidence is staggering and it obviously doesn’t work
How is the weather in Lubyanka Square comrades?