Other important events are coming up. France will hold its presidential election in April and May, with Front National leader Marine Le Pen among the most popular candidates. Her campaign has voiced positions that threaten the survival of both the EU and NATO.
Le Pen recently promised to take France out of both organizations should she win. It is worth mentioning that Front National has attempted to finance its campaigns using Russian banks, as well as Le Pen's close relationship with Vladimir Putin. They are joined by common interests and so-called conservative values.
Germany will also be going into an election come fall to elect the next composition of the Bundestag. The Kremlin is rooting both for leftist Die Linke and right wing Alternative für Deutschland. It is probable Russia will contribute to both causes in more than words.
Germany was one of the countries hit by Russia's meddling in 2016. The Russian media amplified and used a baseless rumor of immigrants from the Middle East having raped a 13-year-old Russian girl in Berlin. The rumor resulted in protests in around a dozen German cities and required Chancellor Angela Merkel to explain that the crime was fiction. It is likely Russian information services will try to stage such operations this year.
The report also briefly mentions how Russia meddled in the US presidential election but adds there is no conclusive information on the subject. The topic was largely avoided at yesterday's press event that concluded that in the end Donald Trump was elected by the American people and as a result of peculiarities of the country's electoral system.
Russian activities in Montenegro were highlighted as a dangerous example, however, as things went from bad to worse there last year. “Elections in Montenegro were tampered with and an attempted coup aided last fall. Russian special services helped prepare the attempted assassination of the country's prime minister,” Marran said. He added it is a good example of how far the Kremlin is prepared to go in its activities.
The coldblooded nature of the Russian administration is also described in the chapter on harassment of Western diplomats in Moscow. Special services have gone as far as killing a diplomat's dog. Even though Marran did not elaborate on attacks against Estonian diplomats, he gave the example of the Bronze Night events in 2007 that left ambassador at the time Marina Kaljurand under a lot of pressure in Moscow.
Because agencies are aware of such activities, the Information Board regularly instructs Estonian diplomats going to Russia. “We keep in constant contact with them, and they are given additional information during their mission,” Marran said. Tsahkna also added that Estonians have no reason to worry about the mental state of their diplomats.
The report is made up of 13 chapters eight of which concern Russia. The document also touches on the Russian economy, situation in regions, military industrial complexes, armed forces in Ukraine, intervention in Syria, but also the downfall of the “caliphate” of terrorist group Islamic State.