Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Fake Think Tank Set Up by Russia to Project Its Power?

Here is what Business Insider is saying about the "think tank" behind Russia's "infiltration of Europe" reports:
A website for a supposed new think tank called the "Center for Eurasian Strategic Intelligence" (CESI) mysteriously appeared last year. The website claimed to "provide analysis and surveys of political, economic and security processes in Eurasia region".
And so it did. In December it produced a research report showing all of the political parties in Europe that it claimed were under the thumb of Moscow. Unfortunately, a large chunk of its research appeared to have been plagiarised from other sources and its analysis appeared suspiciously superficial.
Anton Shekhovtsov, a blogger and researcher of the European extreme right, looked into the story. What he found was even more interesting than the think tank's incendiary claims.

The think tank listed "William Fowler" as its chairman and chief executive. A Facebook page purportedly belonging to Fowler boasted a picture of a besuited, grey-haired businessman but there was very little information on him otherwise. It turns out that the picture is actually a stock photo with the title "suited old businessman" and "grey hair man glasses", Shekhovtsov says.
The only member of the think tank that appeared to exist at all was Alex Kraus, its supposed chief analyst, who appeared in videos on the site speaking with what is described as a Slavic (but not Russian) accent.
Since Shekhovtsov's investigation the CESI website has been taken down, as has Fowler's Facebook page. Indeed the only evidence of the think tank's existence online appears to be a LinkedIn page here which claims that the company has 11-50 employees but lists none, and a Facebook page that was last updated in December blaming an "attack" for the website going down.

Think Tank Watch is aware of other "fake" think tanks.  For example, some have called Employment Policies Institute a fake think tank, and in 2008 there was the fake think tank called the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy that even came with its own fake think tank experts.

As Think Tank Watch has previously reported, there have also been instances of fake think tank documents.