Russian secret service creates an application to recruit foreigners

Russian intelligence services are developing a system of covert influence on Russian-speaking residents of foreign countries, which will be integrated into the service platform.

It depends guild house citing sources from the Ukrainian intelligence community, reports Ukrinform.

The Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation (SVR), acting under the guise of Rossotrudnichestvo, is developing a digital platform and mobile application, Sootechestvenniki (Compatriots), the main objective of which is to strengthen Russian influence on political foreign governments, as well as to recruit Russians living abroad and foreign citizens.

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The project presents itself as an application providing access to a range of public and private services for Russians living abroad, however, all Russian-speaking citizens in foreign countries constitute another part of the target audience (the so-called “base recruitment”).

Particular emphasis is placed on the multimedia part of the application, which will play a propaganda role normally attributed to Russian government-run media (Sputnik, RT) which has recently been blocked in several jurisdictions. The project with the help of the Russian government monitors the socio-economic situation with the help of its users in their respective countries of residence. Meanwhile, the most loyal users could complete individual tasks for a monetary reward.

The project will be entirely administered by Rossotrudnichestvo, whose operations have become significantly complicated in many countries due to the negative perception of Russia by local populations. JSC “Analytical Center” (created by Seldon Group together with State Corporation Rostec) is responsible for the technical part of the project, the overall budget of which is estimated at 250 million rubles.

The Ukrainian intelligence services note that, if implemented, the project carries risks both for the security of the countries in which the SVR will promote the application, as well as for the end users whose data personal information, in violation of the law, will fall into the hands of Russian intelligence.

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To counter such malign influence, Ukrainian intelligence analysts have named three options that foreign governments should consider: restricting the distribution of the products (by banning it from the AppStore and Google Play), injunction for infringement legislation on the collection of personal data and a user awareness campaign. (especially Russian speakers) about the dangers of using information products related to Russian intelligence.

About Raymond A. Bentley

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