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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Draft Polygraph on Peskov's Denial of Russian Hacking of DNC

Publication: Polygraph
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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Draft Polygraph on Peskov's Denial of Russian Hacking of DNC

Name: Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for the Russian presidential administration.


Statement on left:

"I absolutely rule out the possibility that the government or government agencies were involved in this [hack]."



Conclusion (Background color =red)




Date: November 11, 2016


Condensed Version: When allegations began to be made in June 2016 that emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) leaked by WikiLeaks had originally been hacked by the Russian government, President Vladimir Putin dodged inquiries by parrying that the contents of the leaks were more important than the source. Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov then “absolutely” ruled out any Russian government involvement. But two US government agencies, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Direction of National Intelligence then made a formal, public charge against Russia of hacking US institutions. Crowdstrike, the cybersecurity company which the DNC hired to investigate the hack, concluded that Russian military and domestic intelligence were responsible for the breach and publicized their evidence. Other security professionals came up with additional information indicating the evidence was overwhelming that the Kremlin had instigated the e-mail break-in.


FB tease: Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has flatly denied that Russian government agencies were involved in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and other US political groups in June 2016. But the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security took the highly unusual step of directly charging the Russian government of masterminding the hack, indicating their confidence regarding the Kremlin’s involvement. Normally, the US refrains from such pointed accusations in the interests of diplomacy. Cybersecurity experts provided detailed evidence of how they concluded that Russian domestic and military intelligence agencies were behind the hack.


Twitter: Kremlin spokesman Peskov denies Russia was behind hack of DNC. Yet experts provided convincing evidence of Moscow's hand. fact-check:

When accusations began to be made in June 2016 of Russian government hacking of the DNC, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he “absolutely ruled out” that the Russian government or government agencies were involved.


President Vladimir Putin himself fell shy of denying the hacks by claiming it was more important to look at that leaked emails and that attributing the hacking to Russia was a “distraction”.


In a highly unusual direct confrontation of another state, the US publicly announced Russia was behind the hacking of US organizations.


On October 7, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security officially accused Russia of attempting to interfere in the 2016 elections, including by hacking the DNC and other organizations.


James Comey, head of the FBI issued a warning that hackers were attacking US state voting systems, and sources told ABC they were likely Russian.


An unnamed official from the Department of Homeland Security told reporters that attempts had been made to attack 20 states.


To be sure, in making their accusations, the US agencies did not cite the specific evidence they had, a development enabling Putin’s close associate Sergei Ivanov to be reported as demanding proof, according to the Financial Times.


Such proof would be unlikely to be publicized given the need to protect classified information. A US official with knowledge of the investigation who preferred not to be identified explained why US officials had taken months to warn the DNC of their suspicions of Moscow’s involvement, Reuters reported:


"There is a fine line between warning people or companies or even other government agencies that they’re being hacked – especially if the intrusions are ongoing – and protecting intelligence operations that concern national security."


But the victims of the attacks themselves publicized the details of the attacks. The DNC turned for help to CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity company experienced in identifying intrusions from governments, which issued a public report on June 14 report providing the nicknames for the Russian intelligence agencies believed responsible for the hack: Fancy Bear, affiliated with Russian military intelligence (the GRU), and Cozy Bear linked to domestic intelligence, the Federal Security Service (FSB). Their determination of the origin was based on patterns in the DNC hack similar to hacks in France and Germany.


The publications empowered numerous cybersecurity experts to examine the data and add more information to the investigation, even as a hacker calling himself “Guccifer 2.0” appeared to claim that while he was responsible for the DNC hacks, he was not related to Russia, dropping more clues that in fact he was.


Leonid Volkov, a Russian opposition activist and computer professional who had previously expressed skepticism that the Russian government was involved in the US hacks said in a post on October 20 on his Facebook page that he had changed his mind after reading a 40-page report on the hacks by ESET, a respected Slovak antivirus and security software company.


Volkov notes one finding of the report which he describes as "the best of the evidence published until now of who is behind Fancy Bear" (on p. 11). The hackers sent around phishing emails which gave Fancy Bear their log-in information. A new link had to be generated for each potential victim, so to manage their attack they used the URL-shortening service Bit.Ly. But the hackers mistakenly left two of their Bit.Ly accounts open so that the list of all the addresses shortened by that account were visible to the public. Eset found the list contained 4,400 emails including from foreign embassies and defense ministries, Chechen NGOs, East European journalists, Ukrainian politicians and law-enforcements; NATO officials; scientists who visited Russian universities, the hackers' group Shaltai-Boltai, also known as Anonymous International, and the opposition party Parnas (Party of People’s Freedom), where Volkov is representative of the Yekaterinburg branch.


What all the victims had in common was their evidently critical views on "the current political situation in Eastern Europe,” he said. Volkov reasoned that if the hackers were just random miscreants not affiliated with the Russian government, they wouldn't have such a precise list of "enemy" targets. A list of foreign defense ministries as well as the Parnas party and domestic hackers indicates a Russian entity that would have a vested interest in targeting both. Eset also added that the hackers were active only during business hours and never worked on weekends, which also suggested government employment.


Thus, the Obama Administration’s formal allegations, and its enabling of victims and media to publicize the details of the attacks indicate that Russian officials claims of no involvement are false.


Catherine A. Fitzpatrick