Because of COVID-19, Russia has more past due advances than any other time

Russian banks and microfinance associations have never had more late advances than they do well now: 12.6 million. As indicated by new figures delivered by the National Association of Professional Collection Agencies and examiners at Equifax, the financial aftermath from the Covid pandemic has prompted the credit blast. The quantity of credits in Russia at any rate 90 days late is 12.5 percent higher now than as of now a year ago, and an ever increasing number of advances go unpaid consistently, raising the all out by 80,000–500,000 consistently.

Money related examiners caution that there will be 13.5 million past due advances before the year’s over, implying that one of every six credits in Russia will be “risky.”

Inhabitants in Moscow and the encompassing locale represent 1.4 million of Russia’s past due advances. With 8,100 late credits, Ingushetia’s circumstance is most splendid the nation over. As far as unpaid credits as a portion of all obligation, it’s most noticeably terrible in Chukotka, where 43.8 percent of all advances are as of now late. (In Moscow, this figure is simply 10.6 percent.)

In late September, Russia’s Central Bank caused to notice the falling nature of Russian banks’ advance portfolios in the course of recent months, due predominantly to the rebuilding of retail and corporate credits during the main influx of the Covid pandemic.

Russian Private Military Companies in Operations, Competition, and Conflict

The Asymmetric Warfare Group (AWG) supported the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL) to break down the wonder of Russian private military organizations (PMCs), the situations under which they would matter to U.S. Armed force move commandants, and whether they comprise a one of a kind danger to U.S. furthermore, accomplice powers.

The essential crowd for this investigation is U.S. Armed force move administrators and their staffs, yet the discoveries and experiences ought to likewise be valuable for anybody in the U.S. public security and protection networks worried about deviated activities of the Russian Federation around the globe. To begin with, this examination presents key discoveries from profound jump exploration and investigation on Russian PMCs introduced in the supplement. It tends to their utilizations, hardware, preparing, faculty, state contribution, legitimate issues, and other related subjects. Second, these discoveries are utilized to advise a scientific model to investigate the operational difficulties and contemplations Russian PMCs could present to U.S. Armed force move officers.

Key Findings

Primary concern Up Front: Russian PMCs are utilized as a power multiplier to accomplish targets for both government and Russia-adjusted private interests while limiting both political and military expenses. While Moscow keeps on considering the to be of Russian PMCs as helpful, their utilization likewise presents a few weaknesses that present both operational and key dangers to Russian Federation targets.

Well disposed Regime Support: Russian administrators see Russian PMCs as an instrument to prop up benevolent systems under danger of breakdown or ouster. Russian PMCs work:

• Alongside and installed with well disposed state militaries.

• With non-state outfitted gatherings in hostile battle tasks.

Hostile Role: While likewise utilized for help undertakings more ordinary of military and security temporary workers, Russian PMCs have had an articulated part in hostile battle tasks.

Moving Control: The order and control (C2) of Russian PMCs isn’t steady in all operational settings.

• Sometimes Russian PMCs fall under the C2 of the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) or Russian insight offices.

• At different occasions, PMCs fall under the C2 of accomplice governments or adjusted private interests.

Conflicting Capabilities: The nature of staff and materiel empowering Russian PMCs is conflicting. Russian PMC capacities in faculty, preparing, and hardware have all the earmarks of being more noteworthy when a PMC is firmly lined up with state uphold from the Russian MoD.

Casual by Design: Despite administrative endeavors to authorize PMCs, Russian law proceeds to officially prohibit their creation and bars people from going along with them under enemy of hired soldier laws. Notwithstanding, Russian pioneers utilize this legitimate denial to carefully control some PMCs (e.g., the specific capture of PMCs who may introduce homegrown security or political dangers), not to keep PMCs from working.

Weaknesses: The utilization of Russian PMCs presents new operational and key dangers to Moscow. Confidence in Russian PMC units in high-hazard missions seems fragile. Despite the fact that their utilization gives political insurance from the optics of high Russian MoD setbacks, both Russian PMC losses and their get back make novel political and homegrown security hazards. Their utilization additionally confuses interior system legislative issues in Moscow, making rivalry between the MoD and private values that can endanger tasks (see the reference section: Syria). At long last, the equivocalness of operational control and dynamic over Russian PMCs frees Moscow up to the danger of being considered dependable by the global network for activities taken by Russian PMCs under the order of different interests.

Operational Challenges and Considerations Presented by Russian PMCs

Main concern Up Front: Russian PMCs don’t represent a special strategic danger—other state and non-state entertainers are comparably skilled. In any case:

• PMCs can work over the contention continuum and present the United States with predicaments at all degrees of war.

• Challenges Russian PMCs could present in noncombatant departure tasks (NEOs) and peacekeeping activities (PKOs) merit cautious thought

Most Dangerous Scenario: The most hazardous situation including a Russian PMC is one where a U.S. Armed force detachment could experience a state-upheld, contingent strategic gathering (BTG)- like substance with cutting edge weapons, forefront empowering influence advances, and skill:

• With an elevated level of Russian state uphold, a Russian PMC in Syria had the option to work as a semi BTG; it directed fundamental joined arms activities with infantry, reinforcement, and ordnance.

• With the guide of Russian help and powers, separatists in eastern Ukraine led consolidated arms tasks and was exceptionally capable at empowering incorporation, especially data activities (IO), electronic fighting (EW), and automated elevated frameworks (UAS).

In all probability Scenarios: Russian state-upheld PMC activities pointed toward disturbing U.S. tasks during emergency reaction or restricted possibility activities. PMCs may execute the accompanying:

• Occupy potential departure destinations or other key landscape during a NEO.

• Ally with neighborhood entertainers in PKO to give weapons and preparing to bunches contradicted to U.S. activities.

• Provide different types of help, including knowledge and keeping up impact in a given zone.

Other Potential Scenarios: Less serious situations exist where Russian PMCs could look to contend with and sabotage U.S. impact with neighborhood specialists and regular citizens.

Russian PMCs are known, affirmed, and associated with being available and working in various nations across eastern and focal Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and somewhere else. This addendum subtleties accessible data concerning Russian PMC exercises in known or suspected AOs to illuminate the examination contained in the body of this report.

Syria, Ukraine, the CAR, and Sudan are talked about top to bottom, enumerating the utilizations and different credits of Russian PMCs in each AO. Different AOs talked about finally are Yemen, Libya, Nigeria, and Venezuela. Different nations where Russian PMCs are claimed to have worked are likewise referenced and quickly talked about.

Unmistakable Intervention in Syria

The appearance of the Russian Federation’s conventional military inclusion in September 2015 started noteworthy development in the hostile utilization of Russian PMCs in Syria and focused a more splendid light on the activities of Wagner, which served a function in Ukraine up until that point that was more enthusiastically for eyewitnesses to recognize from different entertainers in the contention. Russian PMCs were dynamic in Syria a long time before Russia’s proper intercession—Wagner since fall 2014 or earlier,190 and the Slavonic Corps in 2013. Notwithstanding, the proper utilization of power brought a flood of Russian PMC faculty and started a period interspersed by a few fights where Russian PMCs assumed a huge job—essentially Wagner, on occasion passing by the name “OSM” as indicated by some press reports.

In late 2013, Ukraine was required to consent to an affiliation arrangement with the European Union (EU). Notwithstanding, this would have blocked the nation from participation in the Russia-drove Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), so Moscow forced heightening monetary backlashes and dangers on Kyiv, to the point that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych declared an unexpected inversion. The declaration started the Euromaidan development—a long arrangement of favorable to Western, against Russian fights and conflicts from late 2013 to mid 2014 in Kyiv and across western Ukraine—which, in spite of endeavors by Moscow, eliminated Yanukovych from office. Russia reacted with military activities to attack and addition the Crimean Peninsula and backing dissident powers in eastern Ukraine.

Asserted Use on the Crimean Peninsula

In late February 2014, Russian unique powers work force in plain outfits showed up in Crimea and assumed responsibility for certain administration, air terminal, and different offices. Metaphorically alluded to as “amiable individuals” or “minimal green men,” these formally unattributed powers worked close by other military arrangements to immobilize Ukrainian powers and inevitably assume full responsibility for the landmass. A few open source reports charge that RussianPMCs took an interest in the activities prompting the addition of Crimea (explicitly an early cycle of Wagner that was at the time a casual gathering of Slavonic Corps leftovers with local people and others). By and by, the degree or veracity of a Russian PMC function in the intrusion of Crimea isn’t affirmed, and there gives off an impression of being no immediate proof accessible to check these cases. Russian Cossack units, notwithstanding, assumed a plain function in the occupation as battling powers, monitors at checkpoints, and road implementation to smother fights.

There are a few different nations where Russian PMCs are suspected to be available and working in some limit. Nonetheless, data concerning their utilizations, destinations, and different subtleties is scant. Moreover, separating whether such organizations are working as PSCs in the open market for power, or in the event that they are satisfying any Russian Federation international strategy or security goals, is muddled.

Moscow city chamber individuals ask lead prosecutor to obstruct chairman’s most recent Covid orders

Covid 19 hits Moscow hard

Eight appointees from two enlisted resistance groups serving on Moscow’s city gathering have officially asked District Attorney Denis Popov to audit the legitimateness of Mayor Sobyanin’s leader orders requiring neighborhood organizations to move 30%, everything being equal, to far off work.

As per the paper Kommersant, the city board individuals need to know explicitly if Russia’s Constitution and Labor Code permit the chairman to request laborers’ very own data. Appointee Mikhail Timonov, one of the writers of the appeal to the D.A., noticed that Article 88 of Russia’s Labor Code precludes businesses from offering laborers’ very own information to anybody without their composed assent, aside from when it’s important to forestall a worker’s physical issue or death toll.

Accepting that Sobyanin’s leader orders abuse Russia’s Constitution and Labor Code, the city gathering individuals need Denis Popov to constrain the chairman to carry his new approach into consistence with the law.

In Kamtschatka treten furchtbare Umweltdesaster auf

Der Khalaktyrsky Strand, an dem Wasserverschmutzung auftrat. Halbinsel Kamtschatka, Februar 2019

Surfer aus Kamtschatka beklagten sich über Wasserverschmutzung im Bereich des Khalaktyrsky-Strandes (eine halbe Stunde von Petropawlowsk-Kamtschatski entfernt und als beliebtester Surfspot in Kamtschatka angesehen), nachdem sie auf seltsame Symptome gestoßen waren – Augenschmerzen, Übelkeit, hohe Temperaturen usw.

Wasserproben zeigten, dass die maximal zulässige Menge an Phenolen in Wasser für Ölprodukte viermal überschritten wurde. Das Ministerium für natürliche Ressourcen von Kamtschatka bestreitet, dass das Leck großflächig war, und das Auftreten toter Tiere wird dem Sturm zugeschrieben. Die Gründe für die Verschmutzung sind noch nicht klar. Meduza sprach mit Surfern, die die Auswirkungen der Meeresverschmutzung persönlich erlebt haben. Ein Zeuge berichtet:

“Am 14. September bemerkten wir zum ersten Mal, dass viele, einschließlich mir, nach der Rückkehr aus dem Wasser Probleme mit ihren Augen hatten: Sie hatten einen weißen Schleier und ihr Sehvermögen verschlechterte sich. Ich tropfte ihnen einige feuchtigkeitsspendende Tropfen, aber es half nicht viel. Die Augen taten den ganzen Tag weh. obwohl dieser Effekt nach dem Schlafen nachließ. Alle folgenden Male, als wir ins Wasser gingen, war es die gleiche Geschichte. Dies betraf nicht nur unsere Surf-Schule, sondern auch die benachbarten Surfer-Camps.

Zuerst dachten wir, es könnte nur ein Sonnenbrand sein, weil die Sonne sehr hell und der Wind stark war. Im Grunde war es wie ein Hornhautbrand, den man in den Bergen bekommt, wenn die Sonne hell ist. Aber als dies in den folgenden Tagen ohne Sonne weiterging, wurde vermutet, dass etwas nicht stimmte. Natürlich dachten sie, dass vielleicht Plankton blüht oder etwas anderes im Wasser passiert.

Am 20. September wurde mir schlecht: Übelkeit, Erbrechen, Schwäche, hohe Temperatur. Ich lag ungefähr einen Tag bei einer Temperatur von 38 Grad. Dann ging es vorbei. Fast jeder, der viel Zeit hier verbringt, hatte die gleichen Symptome. Wir dachten, es könnte eine Art Infektion geben. Aber als wir erfuhren, dass es nicht nur in unserem Gebiet, sondern auch in den benachbarten Lagern mit den Leuten ebenso war, mit denen wir kein gemeinsames Leben hatten, wurde klar, dass der Punkt im Wasser lag, dass es eine Art Vergiftung war.

Es ist nicht einfach, in Kamtschatka eine angemessene medizinische Versorgung zu erhalten. Mehrere Personen gingen ins Krankenhaus: Bei einigen wurde eine Hornhautverbrennung diagnostiziert, bei anderen nicht. Soweit ich weiß, ist es hier im Allgemeinen unmöglich, ernstere Blut- und Urintests zu bekommen. Allgemeine [Analysen] können vorgenommen werden, aber sie zeigen nichts – mehrere Personen haben es versucht. Es ist nicht das erste Mal, dass Journalisten gefragt haben, ob wir eine medizinische Bestätigung für dies haben – bisher ist nichts vorliegend. Ich selbst habe vor, innerhalb einer Woche nach Moskau zurückzukehren und mich vielleicht testen zu lassen. Ich bin an dem Meer, natürlich gehe ich nicht ins Wasser, aber Symptome wie Halsschmerzen sind immer noch da, besonders wenn der Wind vom Meer weht. Sobald Sie den Strand verlassen, verschwindet es. Die Schleimhaut reagiert sogar auf Luft.

[Der Gründer der Snowave-Schule] Anton Morozov surft seit über 10 Jahren hier und sagt, dass dies noch nie zuvor passiert ist. Wir haben versucht, lokale Ökologen zu finden, die Wasserproben entnehmen können. Natürlich stellte sich heraus, dass es nicht so einfach war. [Uns wurde gesagt], wir sollten einfach ins Krankenhaus gehen. Es hat nur geholfen, einen Beitrag auf Instagram zu schreiben. Der Gouverneur wurde auf ihn aufmerksam – und dann ging es los: Sie nahmen sofort Proben, die Analyse ergab einen Überschuss an Ölprodukten und Phenolen. Dann hat Rosprirodnadzor bereits Proben genommen, aber es ist nicht klar, was ihre Ergebnisse sind. Sie haben nichts darüber geschrieben.

Jetzt scheint niemand mehr ins Wasser zu gehen – alle Einheimischen reagierten darauf mit Verständnis. Ich kann nichts Schlechtes über die Behörden sagen, weil sie sich sehr schnell einschalteten, sobald die ersten Signale von unserer Seite auftraten. Die Arbeiten sind im Gange, aber bisher gibt es keine Ergebnisse, die offiziell bekannt gegeben worden wären. Ich würde auch sehr gerne eine unabhängige Analyse von Ökologen erhalten. Aber es gibt hier keine Labors, die dies tun würden. Alles muss irgendwohin in andere Städte geschickt werden.

Eine der Versionen [von dem, was passiert ist] ist ein Kraftstoffleck an einem Schiff – aber hier treten Lecks auf. Es gibt einen Hafen, viele Schiffe – dies kann von Satelliten aufgezeichnet werden. Die Gesamtschau ist absolut anders. Wenn ein Schiff leckt, kann es in einem so großen Wassergebiet keine Verschmutzung geben, da es einen offenen Ozean gibt, große Wassermengen. Dies ist keine kleine Bucht, in der sich alles schnell manifestieren würde. Es ist immer noch unklar, woher die Verschmutzung stammt – dies ist das Schlimmste, da nicht klar ist, ob dieser Prozess ausgesetzt wurde oder nicht.

Es ist alles vor zwei oder drei Wochen passiert. Es gab ein Brennen in meinen Augen, einen weißen Schleier vor meinen Augen, als ob Sie durch einen Nebel schauen würden, nichts war klar. Dies verschwindet innerhalb eines Tages, aber es gab Fälle, in denen eine Person nach dem Skifahren nach Moskau flog, zum Arzt ging – und [es stellte sich heraus, dass] sein Sehvermögen zum Beispiel ausfiel. Wir dachten, es sei ein Sonnenbrand [der Hornhaut des Auges]. Dann gab es, wie wir dachten, eine Lebensmittelvergiftung.

Wir haben angefangen, die Öffentlichkeit einzubeziehen. Die lokale Regierung reagierte ziemlich schnell. Sie riefen Forscher an, die Wasserproben nahmen. Wir haben die Tatsache analysiert, dass es Ölabfälle gibt. Es ist peinlich, dass es etwas Ernstes sein könnte. Es scheint mir, dass alles ein wenig still ist. Es ist nicht einfach, wenn Schiffe schwimmen, Kraftstoff ablassen und eine Pfütze erscheint, die entfernt werden kann.

Im Moment sehe ich kein Engagement der Behörden. Ja, es gab einen Schreck. Ja, sie kamen und nahmen verschiedene Messungen vor, aber dies scheint das Ende zu sein. Wir haben kürzlich einen neuen Bürgermeister ernannt. Es kann ein Schock für ihn sein, dass alles auf einmal passiert – Coronavirus und so weiter.

Die Zahl der Menschen auf dem Meer ist spürbar zurückgegangen: Jemand, der über dieses Problem Bescheid weiß, kommt nicht. Heute kamen Leute zu uns und fragten, ob sie hier bleiben sollten oder nicht, wäre es gefährlich? Ich beschrieb, was mit ihnen passieren könnte. Ich sagte, dass Sie nicht ins Wasser gehen sollten. Wenn Sie sich sehr nahe am Meer befinden, ist es besser, nicht dort zu sein, denn wenn der Wind vom Meer zum Ufer weht, treten Halsschmerzen, Niesen und Husten auf. Wir haben diese Symptome – wir sind 30-50 Meter vom Meer entfernt. Diese Jungs sind 100 Meter entfernt, es ist wahrscheinlich sicher. Obwohl ich nicht weiß, wie ernst das Problem ist.

Ich bin am 22. September nach Kamtschatka geflogen. Bereits auf dem Weg vom Flughafen erwähnten die Leute, die mich getroffen hatten, einen atypischen Zustand nach dem Surfen – Krämpfe, Schmerzen, trockene Augen. Sie dachten, es sei von der Sonne. Ich habe das berücksichtigt. Ich verbringe viel Zeit im Trainingsprozess am Äquator und in heißen Ländern. Was Sonnenbrand der Augen ist, hiervon habe ich eine Idee.

Am 23. September ging ich zum ersten Mal ins Wasser und wählte die sicherste Zeit. Es war sechs Uhr morgens – die ersten sanften Sonnenstrahlen. Innerhalb von 20 Minuten fühlte ich ein scharfes Brennen und Schmerzen in den Augen. Es wurde absolut offensichtlich, dass dies nicht von der Sonne kam, sondern durch Kontakt mit Wasser. Die Argumente wurden bestätigt, als am nächsten Tag, sobald es Kontakt mit Wasser gab, die Augen gereizt, geschwollen, geschwollen wurden (die Schwellung verschwand mehrere Tage lang nicht). Vor meinen Augen war ein Schleier, als würde ich durch ein mattes Glas schauen. Gleichzeitig schien der Ozean optisch nicht gefährlich zu sein: Zu dieser Zeit gab es ziemlich transparentes Wasser ohne sichtbare Veränderungen.

Sobald Symptome auftraten, gab niemand sofort Alarm, da keine Warnungen der Behörden vorlagen. Es gab keine Gefahr von außen. Jeder dachte, vielleicht ist es eine individuelle Unverträglichkeit oder Salzwasser oder Plankton oder etwas anderes. Niemand rannte sofort zum Arzt. Angesichts der Situation mit dem Coronavirus wollte ich nicht wirklich mit einer großen Anzahl von Menschen in eine medizinische Einrichtung gehen, ohne den richtigen Grund dafür zu haben.

Der Khalaktyrsky Strand ist eine lange Küstenzone, aber es gibt nur drei Campingplätze [hier]. Alle von ihnen sind zu Fuß erreichbar, aber jeder ist in seinem eigenen Lager beschäftigt. Vielleicht war dies der Grund, warum der Alarm nicht früher ausgelöst wurde. Einige der Jungs [aus anderen Lagern] hatten Fieber, Erbrechen, Übelkeit – was für eine Darminfektion oder Vergiftung gehalten wurde. In jedem Lager ist es das Gleiche.

Als der Datenaustausch stattfand und klar wurde, dass die Symptome an der gesamten Küste gleich waren, veröffentlichte die Initiativgruppe einen Beitrag in sozialen Netzwerken [über das Problem] und notierte die zuständigen Behörden mit der Bitte, Wasserproben zu entnehmen. Die Antwort war sehr schnell. Innerhalb von 1-2 Tagen traf ein Team ein und nahm Wasserproben. Und nur ein paar Tage später wurden die ersten Ergebnisse bekannt gegeben. Ich habe gesehen, dass es auf dem Gebiet der Analyse Arbeit gibt, aber leider habe ich keine Arbeit an der Reinigung als spezifische Maßnahmen gesehen. Ich weiß nicht, was dies verursacht hat, aber seit der Bekanntgabe der ersten Ergebnisse habe ich noch 3-4 Tage auf dem Meer verbracht, aber es wurden keine sichtbaren Arbeiten durchgeführt.

Ich ging zum Arzt, nachdem ich Wasserproben genommen hatte. Der Ursprung dieses Schmerzes wurde klar. Der Augenarzt diagnostizierte bei mir eine chemische Verbrennung der Hornhaut des Auges, wodurch mein Sehvermögen sank. Heute beim Arzttermin konnte ich die Buchstaben in der zweiten Zeile nicht erkennen. Der Augenarzt hofft, dass die Verbrennung nur vorübergehend ist und sich das Sehvermögen langfristig langsam erholt. Wie lange es dauern wird, ist unbekannt. Bisher sprechen wir jedoch nicht über irreversible Konsequenzen.

Der allgemeine Zustand des Körpers ist von großer Bedeutung. Sobald die ersten Ergebnisse von Wasseranalysen erschienen, haben wir den Trainingsprozess unterbrochen. Wir haben nicht mehr gesurft.

Aber während des Sturms am 30. September, als ich am Meer in der Küstenzone war und nur die Wellen beobachtete, verspürten alle am Strand, einschließlich mir, eine akute Reizung des Rachens – Trockenheit, Brennen, das Auftreten eines unaufhaltsamen Hustens und Atemnot. Als ob jemand ein Pfefferspray gesprüht hätte – absolut das gleiche Gefühl. Es wurde deutlich, dass es kein Zufall war, dass der gefährliche Stoff nicht nur im Wasser, sondern auch in der Luft in der Küstenzone gefunden wurde. Dies wurde empirisch bestätigt. Wir verließen sofort die Küstenzone und je mehr wir uns von ihr entfernten und uns der Stadt näherten, desto schwächer waren diese Empfindungen.

Während eines Gesprächs mit einem Augenarzt habe ich erfahren, dass dies der Wirkung von Phenolen ähnlich ist – sie reizen die Schleimhäute. Es ist möglich, dass die Augen nur der Anfang sind, und es ist notwendig, eine Untersuchung durch andere Spezialisten durchzuführen, einschließlich Toxikologen, Dermatologen. Denn ein weiteres Problem war ein Hautausschlag: Nach dem Surfen entwickelten viele Kinder einen Hautausschlag im Rücken und in der Brust. Leider konnten wir noch keinen Dermatologen und Allgemeinarzt aufsuchen, da dies in Kamtschatka sehr schwierig ist. Heute sind wir in zwei Krankenhäuser gegangen – Regional und First City. Leider ist es nicht möglich, ins Krankenhaus zu gelangen, da es vor dem Hintergrund einer Coronavirus-Infektion keine [verfügbaren] Spezialisten gibt.

Dies ist mein dritter Besuch in Kamtschatka. Ich hatte noch nie zuvor von so etwas gehört – von Kraftstofflecks und Situationen, die Flora, Fauna und die menschliche Gesundheit schädigten. Gemessen an der Anzahl der an Land gespülten Seeigel, toten Fische und Tintenfische war absolut klar, dass dies eine Anomalie war. Ich habe hier Stürme gesehen – , aber das ist noch nie passiert. Gleiches gilt für Gesundheitsschäden. Ich habe das noch nicht gehört, bevor sich jemand über etwas unter Umweltgesichtspunkten beschwert hat. Im Gegenteil, es gab das Gefühl eines sauberen und sicheren Ozeans im Vergleich zu warmen Ozeanen in Asien, die Probleme mit Plastik haben.”

Kinder sollten nicht in Russischen Internaten leben

Revealed – Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Mail-In Voting in 2020

Presidential Election Day USA 2020. Vote In USA, Banner Design.. Royalty  Free Cliparts, Vectors, And Stock Illustration. Image 142112824.

Page Count: 11 pages
Date: July 28, 2020
Restriction: None
Originating Organization: Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Department of Homeland Security
File Type: pdf
File Size: 577,002 bytes
File Hash (SHA-256): 4018616B3963268F457A9A294BF1A3A04EB90025898BC3C54B4785B048C873BB

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All forms of voting – in this case mail-in voting – bring a variety of cyber and infrastructure risks. Risks to mail-in voting can be managed through various policies, procedures, and controls.
The outbound and inbound processing of mail-in ballots introduces additional infrastructure and technology, which increases the potential scalability of cyber attacks. Implementation of mail-in voting infrastructure and processes within a compressed timeline may also introduce new risk. To address this risk, election officials should focus on cyber risk management activities, including access controls and authentication best practices when implementing expanded mail-in voting.

Integrity attacks on voter registration data and systems represent a comparatively higher risk in a mail-in voting environment when compared to an in-person voting environment. This is because the voter is not present at the time of casting the ballot and cannot help to answer questions regarding their eligibility or identity verification.

Operational risk management responsibility differs with mail-in voting and in-person voting processes. For mail-in voting, some of the risk under the control of election officials during in-person voting shifts to outside entities, such as ballot printers, mail processing facilities, and the United States Postal Service (USPS).

Physical access at election offices and warehouses represents a risk in a mail-in voting environment. Completed ballots are returned to the election office and must be securely stored for days or weeks before processing through voter authentication and tabulation processes. Managing risks to these processes requires implementing secure procedures for storage, access controls, and chain of custody, such as ballot accounting.
Inbound mail-in ballot processes and tabulation take longer than in-person processing, causing tabulation of results to occur more slowly and resulting in more ballots to tabulate following election night. Media, candidates, and voters should expect less comprehensive results on election night, which creates additional risk of electoral uncertainty and confidence in results.

Disinformation risk to mail-in voting infrastructure and processes is similar to that of in-person voting while utilizing different content. Threat actors may leverage limited understanding regarding mail-in voting processes to mislead and confuse the public.

Election infrastructure includes a diverse set of systems, networks, and processes. Mail-in voting is a method of administering elections. When voting by mail, authorized voters receive a ballot in the mail, either automatically or after the application process. In most implementations, the voter marks the ballot, puts the ballot in an envelope, signs an affidavit, and returns the package via mail or by dropping off at a ballot drop box or other designated location.

Currently, five states (Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, and Washington) automatically send every registered voter a ballot by mail. At least 21 other states have laws that allow at least some elections to be conducted by mail. In addition to the five states that send every voter a ballot, five states (Arizona, California, Montana, Nevada, and New Jersey) and the District of Columbia (D.C.) allow a voter to apply to receive a mail-in ballot permanently, so that voters do not have to apply each election.1 Currently, 34 states and D.C. allow any registered voter to request a mail-in ballot. There are 16 states that require voters to have an excuse such as temporary absence from the voting district, illness, or disability or require voters to be of a certain age (typically 65+) to be eligible to receive a ballot by mail. Some states are recognizing COVID-19 as a valid excuse.

Although they perform similar functions, mail-in voting processes and infrastructure vary from state to state and often differ even between counties, parishes, towns, or cities within a state or territory. While each state manages and conducts mail-in elections differently based on state and local legal requirements, common risks and mitigations exist across states and implementations.

Voter registration and mail ballot application processing collects data used to determine voter eligibility, the type of ballot a voter receives, the location or address for mailing the ballot to the voter, and whether election officials can accept the ballot. Either an integrity attack or an availability attack on a voter registration system could result in a voter not being able to cast a ballot or a voter’s ballot not being counted. Integrity attacks on voter registration data and systems represents a comparatively higher risk in a mail-in voting environment than an in-person voting environment. This is because the voter is not present at the time of casting the ballot and cannot help to resolve questions regarding eligibility or verification. Mail-in voters whose registration records are altered or deleted in an integrity attack do not have the opportunity to be issued a provisional ballot, which are available to in-person voters.

  • An integrity attack that removed a voter from the voter registration, permanent mail, or absentee ballot request list could result in the voter not receiving a ballot, unless the voter proactively followed up to re-register, re-apply, or if the election official received the ballot as undeliverable and contacted the voter. The impact is that a voter may not receive a ballot or receipt of a ballot may be delayed, resulting in a jurisdiction potentially not accepting a voted ballot. The voter would still possess the ability to vote in person provisionally.
  • An integrity attack on a voter’s name could result in the voter receiving a ballot package that is not addressed to the proper individual. If there was an integrity attack on a voter’s identifying information (i.e., date of birth [DOB], driver’s license number [DL], last four digits of Social Security number [SSN], etc.), the voter’s proof of ID, where required, would not match the voter’s record. The voter would either need to inform the election official and update his or her voter record (assuming that the voter registration deadline has not passed), or risk having their voted ballot rejected upon receipt.
  • An integrity attack on a voter’s ballot mailing address may result in the voter not receiving a ballot, unless the voter proactively updated his or her registration with the correct address, or the election official received the ballot as undeliverable and contacted the voter. This assumes that the voter registration or ballot application deadline has not passed, allowing the voter to update his or her information. The impact is that a voter may not receive a ballot, or receipt of a ballot is delayed.
  • An integrity attack on a voter’s signature on file could result in the voter having the ballot package rejected and their ballot uncounted. If the state is one of the 19 that requires a voter to receive notification when there is a discrepancy with their signature or the signature on the return ballot envelope is missing (a.k.a. “cure process”), the voter may have an opportunity to correct the situation by being notified that the ballot was rejected and taking action to resolve the issue. This can be done by an election official notifying the voter or a voter checking a ballot tracking system, if available.
  • An availability attack on the voter registration database or specific information, such as a list of mail voters, voter names, or addresses could result in the delay of voters receiving their ballots, and further impact voters’ ability to return ballots on time to ensure they are counted. In most states, a ballot may be returned in person, in which case the impact of an availability attack may only affect the outbound process providing a measure of resilience.

Exposed – Russia Likely to Continue Seeking to Undermine Faith in US Electoral Process

Homeland Security Experts on the Biggest Threats and Challenges the U.S.  Faces in 2020 – Homeland Security Today
Page Count: 4 pages
Date: September 3, 2020
Restriction: For Official Use Only
Originating Organization: Cyber Mission Center, Office of Intelligence and Analysis, Department of Homeland Security
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File Hash (SHA-256): CD0E044E731342D57AB13DCBB9C8B56D2D5A6295D1E51F6409461D1CAB55C61A

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(U//FOUO) We assess that Russia is likely to continue amplifying criticisms of vote-by-mail and shifting voting processes amidst the COVID-19 pandemic to undermine public trust in the electoral process. Decisions made by state election officials on expanding vote-by-mail and adjusting in-person voting to accommodate challenges posed by COVID-19 have become topics of public debate. This public discussion represents a target for foreign malign influence operations that seeks to undermine faith in the electoral process by spreading disinformation about the accuracy of voter data for expanded vote-by-mail, outbound/inbound mail ballot process, signature verification and cure process, modifying scale of in-person voting, and safety and health concerns at polling places, according to CISA guidance documents provided to state and local election officials. Since at least March 2020, Russian malign influence actors have been amplifying allegations of election integrity issues in new voting processes and vote-by-mail programs.

(U//FOUO) Russian state media and proxy websites in mid-August 2020 criticized the integrity of expanded and universal vote-by-mail, claiming ineligible voters could receive ballots due to out-of-date voter rolls, leaving a vast amount of ballots unaccounted for and vulnerable to tampering.b These websites also alleged that vote-by-mail processes would overburden the US Postal Service and local boards of election, delaying vote tabulation and

creating more opportunities for fraud and error.

(U//FOUO) Since March 2020, Russian state media and proxy websites have denigrated vote-by-mail processes, alleging they lack transparency and procedural oversight, creating vast opportunities for voter fraud. These outlets also claimed that state election officials and policymakers leveraged the COVID-19 pandemic to justify politically-expedient decisions made on holding primary elections and implementing new voting processes and vote-by-mail programs allegedly designed to benefit specific candidates and influence election outcomes.

(U//FOUO) Throughout the 2020 primary elections, Russian state media and proxy websites amplified public narratives about shortcomings in ballot delivery and processing, such as claims that voters would not receive their mail ballot in time to cast their vote. These websites highlighted reductions in the number of in-person polling places in large cities due to the pandemic and the long lines this caused, claiming this
would disproportionately suppress voting among African-Americans and expose them to the spread of COVID-19.

(U//FOUO) We assess that Russian state media, proxies, and Russian-controlled social media trolls are likely to promote allegations of corruption, system failure, and foreign malign interference to sow distrust in democratic institutions and election outcomes. We base this assessment on content analysis of narratives and themes promoted by Russian state media and proxy websites throughout the 2020 election cycle concerning system integrity issues and parallels with observed Russian troll activity leading up to the 2018 and 2016 elections.

(U//FOUO) Russia continues to spread disinformation in the United States designed to undermine American confidence in democratic processes and denigrate a perceived anti-Russia establishment, using efforts such as Russian-controlled internet trolls and other proxies, according to an ODNI press statement. In the Iowa Caucuses in February, Russian state media and proxy websites claimed that the contest was fixed in favor of establishment candidates and that technical difficulties with the caucusing mobile voting application led to ballot manipulation. These outlets continued this narrative into March 2020, claiming that the Democratic Party made a corrupt back-room deal to orchestrate the exit of establishment candidates to consolidate the vote behind former Vice President BidenUSPER in advance of the Super Tuesday primary elections.

(U) Russian malign influence actors during the 2018 US midterm election claimed they controlled the US voting systems to prompt election integrity concerns, according to press reporting. In the 2016 US presidential election, Russian social media trolls targeted specific communities and claimed the election was rigged by the establishment, encouraging these voters to stay at home or vote for third-party candidates in order to influence the election outcome, according to reports by firms with expertise in social media network analysis.

Reevealed – Undercover for Center E

From biggest CIA leaker Hanssen to 'undercover agent' Fogle: US-Russia spy  scandals in 21st century — RT World News

recent story from the Russian legal news outlet “Mediazona” dives into the case of a woman living in the far-eastern city of Chita, who was charged with justifying terrorism because of a social media post. The woman claims that after searching her home, investigators from the regional Anti-Extremism Center (Center E) offered to help her get a lighter sentence: all she had to do in return was infiltrate the Chita branch of “Union SSR” — a trade union organization that denies the collapse of the Soviet Union and doesn’t recognize the legitimacy of the Russian Federation. “Meduza” summarizes this ongoing story, which, in the words of “Mediazona” editor-in-chief Sergey Smirnov, offers an inside look at the work of Russia’s secretive Center E.

From suspect to undercover agent

In March 2019, 31-year-old Victoria (whose last name hasn’t been disclosed, at her request) wrote a post on the Russian social networking site VKontakte about the mass shooting that had taken place at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. “Does anyone feel sorry for them? I don’t. And here’s why,” the message began. Victoria wrote that Muslims in New Zealand were “organizing almost public festivals, at which they openly rejoiced at the murders and atrocities of militants.” Victoria claims that she copied the message from a VKontakte group, where the attack on the mosques was being discussed. Eleven people saw her post before she deleted it. But Major Alexander Petrov, an investigator from Center E, managed to take a screenshot.

On January 14, 2020, police officials searched the apartment where Victoria lives with her parents. They were carrying out an investigation on the basis of a report from Major Petrov, who was also present during the search. At his request, Victoria handed over her flashdrive, laptop, and cell phone, and then she was taken away for interrogation. The next day, she met with Major Petrov again. He gave her a copy of the search record and suggested that they collaborate. Petrov promised Victoria that he would provide the court with a note confirming that she had helped the police — and suggested that she infiltrate the Union SSR trade union. The investigator described the organization’s work as destructive and said that activists from its Chita branch were attacking bailiff offices.

Three days later Victor agreed to cooperate with the police. Major Petrov sent her a link to a chat group on the messaging app Telegram, which included around 1,000 people from different cities across Russia. Victoria wrote to the group, saying that she had decided to join the trade union at the recommendation of a friend from Donbas (Ukraine). She later joined a video conference on Zoom, where Union SSR activists took turns speaking: the conversation revolved around claims that the Soviet Union still exists and that the Russian Federation is a commercial organization. They also shared advice on how to avoid paying back loans.

The set up

At the end of January, one of the trade union’s members invited Victoria for a meeting. She agreed and told Major Petrov about it. Two Center E investigators gave her instructions: they needed to find out where the local Union SSR branch was gathering and what it was doing. They also gave her recording devices. Victoria met with the trade union activist at the train station‚ Major Petrov and his colleague recorded what was happening on video. According to Victoria, after three hours of conversation, she came to the conclusion the Union SSR reminded her of a sect.

At the beginning of February, also on assignment from Center E, Victoria spent about six hours talking to the leader of Union SSR’s Chita branch, Elena Usova. Afterwards, she told the police officers that Usova seemed like “a normal person.” Usova herself told Mediazona that by the time she spoke with Victoria she stopped participating in the trade union’s actions; she considered them pointless.

Victoria says that she soon realized that the Union SSR supporters didn’t pose any danger. She stopped monitoring them, but didn’t refuse to cooperate with the police explicitly. In response to all of the questions from Major Petrov, she said that the organization’s activists and leaders weren’t telling her anything. Victoria told Elena Usova that they had tried to have her infiltrate Union SSR as an agent (when this happened remains unclear).

“I got the impression that the [police officers] want me to get into this group, and then add both me and this group to my case. ‘Look, she’s not so squeaky-clean after all’,” Victoria says.

On February 17, a month after the start of her cooperation with Center E, the Investigative Committee launched a criminal case against Victoria for justifying terrorism — over the post about the mass shooting in New Zealand. The next day, they interrogated her as a suspect in the case.

Terrorism charges

On July 3, Major Alexander Petrov made Victoria a new offer — he asked her to go undercover and join the “Popular Patriotic Party of Russia — Power to the People.” The investigator described the party as oppositionist and said its members are “actually linked to weapons.” Petrov asked Victoria to engage in the party’s activities “closely” and promised to pay her 10,000–11,000 rubles monthly ($134–$147). “We really need them,” the police officer explained. “We’re completely worn down because of them […] These people and all this nonsense have had us bouncing around.” Victoria recorded this conversation on her phone and then gave the recording to Mediazona’s editors.

That same day, the investigator asked her via Telegram to testify against Chita resident Alexey Zakruzhny (the video blogger behind the YouTube channel “Lyokha Kochegar”), who is facing a criminal case for inciting mass riots. According to Victoria, the major had suggested previously that she monitor social media and take screenshots of suspicious posts (she refused).

Three days later, Victoria told the Center E investigator that she wasn’t going to infiltrate “Power to the People” or testify in Alexey Zakruzhny’s case. A week later, investigators came to search her apartment once again. And on July 14, she was charged with justifying terrorism — before she was only a suspect in the case.

On July 27, Major Petrov met with Victoria for the last time. The police officer had found out that she had not only told Elena Usova from Union SSR about her undercover work, but also told Alexey Zakruzhny’s lawyer about the fact that she was asked to testify against the blogger. During the meeting, Petrov demanded she turn off her phone, so Victoria wasn’t able to record the conversation. According to her, the investigator said that he had been suspended from work for the duration of an internal investigation. Petrov, Victoria claims, promised to ruin her life and threatened her with criminal charges for illegally disclosing state secrets. “He said that now everyone at the [Anti-Extremism Center] is pointing fingers at him. That I violated his measured lifestyle. He asked, what for? After all, he really wanted to help me!” Victoria says, recalling his words.

On August 11, the prosecutor’s office referred the case against Victoria for justifying terrorism to court. The trial’s start data remains unknown.