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#RussiaToday is preparing a hybrid attack on Latvian media

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When some time ago, deceitful adverts appeared online depicting popular Latvian artists and celebrities advertising cryptocurrencies, it seemed that it’s just some bored hipster having fun. However, this nonsense is in fact a complex attack being prepared by the Russian governmental media network Russia Todayand its journalists against Latvian media and the Latvian state. Neatkarīgā has now alerted our state security services, writes NRA journalist Imants Viksne.

When the order is issued – either directly from the Kremlin or some subordinate structure based in Latvia ­– Latvian media outlets will be disconnected from the web and replaced by fake avatars that will be visually identical but radically differ in their content. They will no longer concern bitcoins or short-term loans but instead threaten the independence of the Latvian state, deceive and incite people to harm the state, as well as spread fear and panic among the public.

The source of Neatkarīgā is a Russian journalist, and this is his statement:

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Institutions with ties to Russia Today maintain a network of information channels in the Latvian language. The system is being kept at a latent state and will be fully unleashed when it is necessary or when an order is received from Russia Today to spread specific information or disinformation.”

When this happens, we will see Renārs Kaupers, Benita Sadauska or even our prime minister saying things they themselves would never say. The scripts are being made by people disloyal to the state who speak Latvian and have been recruited for this purpose. The independent source confirmed that these are several unemployed journalists in Latvia who come from the Russian media environment.

It is interesting that the Russian embassy doesn’t even hide its interest in journalists. In February, ambassador Yevgeniy Lukyanov held a press conference during which a Russian journalist went on a rant about Latvian banks refusing to provide their services to him. The reason for this was a criminal case initiated by the State Security Service against owners of the company Baltijas Mediju Alianse for violating sanctions imposed by the European Union.

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The Russian ambassador then promised that “Moscow will not sit idly when a journalist is being mistreated”.

The Kremlin’s propaganda mouthpiece Sputnik then published an article on this and cited the ambassador:

Of course, we will protect journalists. We will invoke international law and intergovernmental agreements against nations that restrict journalists. We will demand that Latvia returns to following the agreements it has signed. But there is little hope this will help because double standards are present. What matters is whose “son of a bitch” are we talking about – if it’s a Latvian, then he is our “son of a bitch”, but if he is a foreigner, then sorry. As they say, you were unlucky to be born Russian,” the ambassador expressed.

It seems that Russia has now begun employing its own “sons of bitches”.

Neatkarīgā and the website nra.lv too have a duplicate online which is difficult to track and changes its address. Previously, primitive versions of such clones were reported for the websites jauns.lv and re.tv. There is no other explanation than malicious intent, because we represent quality journalism and never ask our readers to pay for any of it. All our materials are free of charge, the only requirement is to indicate a correct source. A lot of work has been put into creating these avatars, and a lot of work also means a lot of money. Creating fake media outlets and maintaining them at a latent state is evidently required in order for the readers to be able to recognize the fake outlet when the said attack takes place.

Currently, there are only fake media outlets, but it is very well possible that the same approach is used to create copies of state institutions. Netkarīgā strongly believes this information should be forwarded to the State Security Service, Ministry of Defense, State Chancellery and NATO Strategic Communications Center. Representatives of these institutions agreed that this information is worrisome and forwarded it to their experts for further investigation.

This analysis represents the views of the author. It is part of a wide range of varying opinions published by, but not endorsed by EU Reporter.

European Commission

NextGenerationEU: European Commission disburses €231 million in pre-financing to Slovenia

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The European Commission has disbursed €231 million to Slovenia in pre-financing, equivalent to 13% of the country's grant allocation under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). The pre-financing payment will help to kick-start the implementation of the crucial investment and reform measures outlined in Slovenia's recovery and resilience plan. The Commission will authorise further disbursements based on the implementation of the investments and reforms outlined in Slovenia's recovery and resilience plan.

The country is set to receive €2.5 billion in total, consisting of €1.8bn in grants and €705m in loans, over the lifetime of its plan. Today's disbursement follows the recent successful implementation of the first borrowing operations under NextGenerationEU. By the end of the year, the Commission intends to raise up to a total of €80 billion in long-term funding, to be complemented by short-term EU-Bills, to fund the first planned disbursements to member states under NextGenerationEU.

The RRF is at the heart of NextGenerationEU which will provide €800bn (in current prices) to support investments and reforms across member states. The Slovenian plan is part of the unprecedented EU response to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, fostering the green and digital transitions and strengthening resilience and cohesion in our societies. A press release is available online.

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Cyprus

NextGenerationEU: European Commission disburses €157 million in pre-financing to Cyprus

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The European Commission has disbursed €157 million to Cyprus in pre-financing, equivalent to 13% of the country's financial allocation under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). The pre-financing payment will help to kick-start the implementation of the crucial investment and reform measures outlined in Cyprus' recovery and resilience plan. The Commission will authorise further disbursements based on the implementation of the investments and reforms outlined in Cyprus' recovery and resilience plan.

The country is set to receive €1.2 billion in total over the lifetime of its plan, with €1 billion provided in grants and €200m in loans. Today's disbursement follows the recent successful implementation of the first borrowing operations under NextGenerationEU. By the end of the year, the Commission intends to raise up to a total of €80bn in long-term funding, to be complemented by short-term EU-Bills, to fund the first planned disbursements to member states under NextGenerationEU. Part of NextGenerationEU, the RRF will provide €723.8bn (in current prices) to support investments and reforms across member states.

The Cypriot plan is part of the unprecedented EU response to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, fostering the green and digital transitions and strengthening resilience and cohesion in our societies. A press release is available online.

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Belgium

EU Cohesion policy: Belgium, Germany, Spain and Italy receive €373 million to support health and social services, SMEs and social inclusion

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The Commission has granted €373 million to five European Social Fund (ESF) and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) operational programmes (OPs) in Belgium, Germany, Spain and Italy to help the countries with coronavirus emergency response and repair in the framework of REACT-EU. In Belgium, the modification of the Wallonia OP will make available an additional €64.8m for the acquisition of medical equipment for health services and innovation.

The funds will support small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in developing e-commerce, cybersecurity, websites and online stores, as well as the regional green economy through energy efficiency, protection of the environment, development of smart cities and low-carbon public infrastructures. In Germany, in the Federal State of Hessen, €55.4m will support health-related research infrastructure, diagnostic capacity and innovation in universities and other research institutions as well as research, development and innovation investments in the fields of climate and sustainable development. This amendment will also provide support to SMEs and funds for start-ups through an investment fund.

In Sachsen-Anhalt, €75.7m will facilitate cooperation of SMEs and institutions in research, development and innovation, and provide investments and working capital for micro-enterprises affected by the coronavirus crisis. Moreover, the funds will allow investments in the energy efficiency of enterprises, support digital innovation in SMEs and acquiring digital equipment for schools and cultural institutions. In Italy, the national OP ‘Social Inclusion' will receive €90m to promote the social integration of people experiencing severe material deprivation, homelessness or extreme marginalisation, through ‘Housing First' services that combine the provision of immediate housing with enabling social and employment services.

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In Spain, €87m will be added to the ESF OP for Castilla y León to support the self-employed and workers who had their contracts suspended or reduced due to the crisis. The money will also help hard-hit companies avoid layoffs, especially in the tourism sector. Finally, the funds are needed to allow essential social services to continue in a safe way and to ensure educational continuity throughout the pandemic by hiring additional staff.

REACT-EU is part of NextGenerationEU and provides €50.6bn additional funding (in current prices) to Cohesion policy programmes over the course of 2021 and 2022. Measures focus on supporting labour market resilience, jobs, SMEs and low-income families, as well as setting future-proof foundations for the green and digital transitions and a sustainable socio-economic recovery.

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