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Russian think tank had plans to sway U.S. election

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A Russian think tank developed plans to help Donald Trump win the 2016 election, reported Townhall (US).

The Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, which has ties to President Vladimir Putin, gave top Russian officials a framework for how to influence the U.S. election, current and four former U.S. officials told Reuters.

The report said the think tank produced two documents. The first was released to the upper reaches of the Russian government, the report said.
The document reportedly said the Kremlin should launch a propaganda campaign on social media and Russian-backed news that stressed the point that the smart choice for president would be a candidate with a softer approach to Moscow.

The classified document called for state-backed news outlets to get the message out, the report said.
The think tank’s opinion on the approach apparently shifted by October, when Hillary Clinton appeared to be gaining distance on Trump. The second document said it would be best to increase its message on voter fraud and to attack Clinton’s reputation.

These documents were acquired by U.S. intelligence officials and were the basis of what led U.S. officials to blame Russia for meddling, the report said.
“Putin had the objective in mind all along, and he asked the institute to draw him a road map,” according to one former senior U.S. intelligence official.

The think tank dismissed the report as incorrect, telling The Tass Russian News Agency "the number of slanderous remarks against Russia has been growing recently but those making such remarks wrongly perceive the world."
Putin has also denied interfering in the U.S. election.

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The Reuters news service claimed that the Moscow-based Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS) "developed a plan to swing the 2016 US presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters' faith in the American electoral system," citing three current and four former US officials anonymously, reported Sputnik News (Russian).

The media outlet stated that RISS circulated two "confidential documents" ahead of the vote: the first allegedly recommended that the Kremlin initiate a propaganda campaign on social media and that Russia's state-run media persuade US citizens to vote for a candidate less critical to Russia than former US President Barack Obama.

According to Reuters, RT, Sputnik, and other media should have been allegedly working to improve Trump's image.
Speaking to Radio Sputnik, Russian political scientist Dr. Alexander Gusev called the allegations ludicrous.
"It sounds laughable that a small institution [RISS] could influence the outcome of the elections in the US," Gusev stressed.

The political scientist noted that currently, a full-throttle campaign is on-going in the US aimed at depicting Russia as the "number one threat."
"The head of the Pentagon, James Mattis, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson were almost foaming at the mouth when arguing in the US Congress that Russia is an "evil empire", as President of the United States Ronald Reagan said in the 1980s," he said.

"They alluded to cyber-attacks, which were allegedly committed by Russian hackers to break into the servers of the Pentagon, the State Department and so on. All these [allegations] are sheer disinformation which has one goal: to exert an influence on ordinary Americans," Gusev told Radio Sputnik.

What the Russian scholars are being accused of is impossible even in theory, the political scientist stressed.
"In no way could research scholars influence the outcome of [the presidential] elections of the largest global power," Gusev said.

"This could not be possible even in theory. Yes, we closely monitor what is happening in the US. But to influence these processes is incredibly difficult — I tell you that as a political strategist who has been engaged in election campaigns for the last 30 years. And it is simply impossible for such a small organization as RISS [to influence the outcome of the US elections]," the Russian political scientist explained.

Commenting on the issue, Margarita Simonyan, the Editor-in-Chief of the Sputnik news agency and the RT broadcaster, suggested giving Reuters the Oscar for the "best script."

"Western journalism has hit a new low: Reuters writes that it knows seven guys who swear blind that they saw a secret Russian report with their own eyes, even two reports. Give Reuters the Oscar for the best script, they deserve it," Simonyan said.

Mikhail Fradkov, Director of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS) earlier refuted the accusations made against the think tank.

"It looks like those behind the publication in their conspiratorial minds substituted reality with their own fantasies in order to attract public opinion to the issue of Russia's 'participation' in the US pre-election campaign, which is leaving the public spotlight. The attempt to involve RISS as an accomplice is pure failure," Fradkov said in an official statement published on the think tank's website.

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Reporter: Denes Osvalt
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Category: Politics
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