Dec 23, 2018

Russia isn't taking 2019 off

Russian President Vladimir Putin walking while holding a mushroom during a short vacation in August 2018. Photo: Alexey Nikolsky/AFP/Getty Images

In the United States, Russia's social media disinformation campaigns are often seen as an election-tampering issue. There's a good chance we'll spend 2019 talking about propaganda as something we have to prepare for before the 2020 election.

But, but, but: The propaganda isn't going anywhere in 2019. It's simply not tied to elections. Russia uses these campaigns to create discord over divisive issues. There's nothing that says that kind of chaos can't happen outside of an election.

  • So while a report to the U.S. Senate from the University of Oxford and the intelligence company Graphika made headlines this week as a past-tense review of the 2016 election, one of its key findings got overlooked.
  • The study reaffirmed that Russian propaganda peaked after the election, specifically in April 2017.

What they're saying: "The Kremlin won’t stop their efforts to sow chaos and confusion," said Camille Francois, research and analysis director for Graphika. "Our recent investigation for the U.S. Senate shows how tempting it is for the Russians: It’s proven cheap, effective and creates havoc as platforms and governments attempt to get ahead of the threat."

You can confirm Graphika's work in other ways. The Justice Department's indictment of Elena Khusyaynova, the chief accountant of the Russian misinformation campaign, shows that spending increased after the election.

Go deeper: The Russian social media disease spread beyond Facebook and Google

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 5,543,439 — Total deaths: 347,836 — Total recoveries — 2,266,394Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 1,669,040 — Total deaths: 98,426 — Total recoveries: 379,157 — Total tested: 14,604,942Map.
  3. Trump administration: Mike Pence's press secretary returns to work after beating coronavirus.
  4. States: New York reports lowest number of new coronavirus deaths since March.
  5. Public health: The final data for remdesivir is in and its benefits are rather limited.
  6. Education: A closer look at how colleges can reopenNotre Dame president says science alone "cannot provide the answer" to reopening.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 40 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Pentagon watchdog sidelined by Trump resigns

Fine testiying before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2017. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Glenn Fine, the Pentagon's principal deputy inspector general, submitted his resignation on Tuesday.

Why it matters: President Trump removed Fine as the Pentagon's acting inspector general in April 7 after a group of independent federal watchdogs selected him to lead the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, which was set up to oversee the rollout of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill.

New York reports lowest number of daily coronavirus deaths since March

The number of daily new coronavirus cases and deaths reported in New York was the lowest since the state started its lockdown in March, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday, calling Memorial Day a "pivot point" for New York.

By the numbers: 73 New Yorkers died from coronavirus in the past 24 hours, and 200 people tested positive. Hospitalizations and intubations also decreased.