Press review: Russian hackers leak US voter data and German investment exits Russia / News / News agency Inforos
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Press review: Russian hackers leak US voter data and German investment exits Russia

Press review: Russian hackers leak US voter data and German investment exits Russia

Top stories in the Russian press on Tuesday, September 1st, prepared by TASS

Kommersant: Russian hackers publish personal data of US voters

A database containing the personal data of 7.6 mln Michigan voters, as well as millions of residents of other American states, has been published on a Russian hacker forum. The users benefited from the US Department of State's Rewards for Justice (RFJ) program, which allows people to get paid for reporting cases of meddling in the country’s elections. Experts interviewed by Kommersant suggest that the hackers have already used every possible avenue to profit off the leak. Some think that the database was published as a provocation in the run-up to the US presidential election.

Kommersant has found a message on a dark web forum providing free access to the personal data of millions of American citizens. A user with the nickname Gorka9 is handing out archives of information about 7.6 mln voters from the state of Michigan. The user claims that the database contains the following information: an individual’s name, date of birth, gender, registration date, address, postal code, email, voter identification number and polling station number, Kommersant reports. According to the author, the data corresponds to March 2020. The InfoWatch information security company confirmed to the newspaper that the database is genuine, noting that it first leaked in late 2019.

Such leaks can be used for political aims like to study voter preferences, steer them towards a certain choice or even encourage them to take to the streets, said Andrei Arsenyev who heads the InfoWatch Analytics and Special Projects Department. However, such databases are used more often to provide valuable data to fraudsters. Vladimir Dryukov, who heads Solar JSOC Center for Monitoring and Reaction to Cyber Attacks of Rostelecom, told the newspaper that the hackers have likely used all the other ways of profiting off the leak before publishing the data on a forum with open access.

Leading security analyst at the CROC IT company Anastasia Fyodorova points out that the leak was published shortly before the US presidential election scheduled for November 3. According to her, due to the comprehensiveness of the data, a government entity might be behind the leak. Another Kommersant source thinks that the nickname of the user who published the database suggests that "this is the first stage of preparations aimed at accusing Russian hackers for meddling in the US presidential election."

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: German businesses pulling out investments from Russia

Germany has given several significant political and economic signals to Russia. Some German politicians are talking about an end to the policy of partnership based on trust, while entrepreneurs note a drop in German investments into the Russian economy and a decline in turnover between both nations, Nezavisimaya Gazeta reports.

This year, German investment into Russia looked more like an evacuation of assets. From March to June, German companies pulled out a total of $1.1 bln in investments from Russia, Chairman of the Chairman of the Russian-German Chamber of Commerce Matthias Schepp stated.

The plunge in German investment could be explained by the novel coronavirus pandemic, were it not for the worrying statements by German politicians and diplomats. The alleged poisoning of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny has soured relations between Berlin and Moscow, Chairman of the Munich Security Conference (MSC) Wolfgang Ischinger said in an interview with Der Spiegel. He noted that Russia’s authority had been undermined by the poisoning of former Russian military intelligence officers Sergei Skripal in the UK, the murder of a Chechen immigrant in Berlin and the hacker attack on the Bundestag. German officials accuse Russian hackers with ties to the government of carrying out the attack.

"Germany’s stance regarding Russia has been changing significantly lately. This is reflected in its foreign policy stance. Sooner or later, these shifts in the viewpoints of the public and politicians will lead to a decrease in investment into Russia," Director of FBK Strategic Analysis Institute Igor Nikolaev said.

Izvestia: Montenegro’s new government may steer away from anti-Russia policy course

The future of the Montenegrin government, which will be formed by the opposition that has won the majority during the recent election, will look into lifting its sanctions against Russia, Milan Knezevic, leader of the right-wing Democratic People's Party (DNP), told Izvestia. For the first time in 30 years, the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro, led by President Milo Dukanovic, has lost the election. The nation’s opposition coalitions of "For the Future of Montenegro," "Peace is our Nation," and "Black and White" have garnered a total of 50.61% of the vote, while the Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro have taken home only 35.06%.

Experts quizzed by Izvestia note that the era of Montenegro’s anti-Russian policy is coming to an end, and now the opposition is faced with uniting the nation following an ecclesiastical rift and a surge in corruption.

Montenegro’s foreign policy course is set to change with the new government. President Milo Dukanovic, who basically forced the country to join NATO without holding a referendum, is known for his anti-Russian stance. Zdravko Krivokapic, head of the coalition "For the Future of Montenegro", told the media that he hopes for an improvement in relations with Russia.

His colleague Milan Knezevic has confirmed to Izvestia that a new age of good relations between Russia and Montenegro is on the horizon, adding that it can lead to a lifting of sanctions both within the EU and in Montenegro.

Chairman of the Russian Federation Council (the upper house of parliament) Foreign Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev pointed out that changes in the relations between Montenegro and Russia can be expected if the government listens to public opinion. He noted that so far, it is necessary to monitor the situation in the country carefully, since it would depend on the level of stability within the winning coalition.

"So far, I would not overestimate the significance of what happened and consider Montenegro the locomotive for promoting Russian interests in the West. Russia is expecting qualitative, not radical, changes in its bilateral relations with Montenegro," the Russian senator told Izvestia.

Vedomosti: Huawei boosts investment in Russia over US sanctions

Founder and CEO of Huawei Ren Zhengfei stated during his recent visit to Shanghai University that the Chinese company had transferred its investment from the US to Russia after the Trump administration had placed it on a sanctions list. He noted that the company had hired more Russian developers and raised their salaries. A source close to Huawei’s management informed Vedomosti that the company is focusing on R&D investment, planning to shut down its R&D center in the United States.

A year earlier, Huawei had already stated its intent of expanding its operations in Russia, Vedomosti reported. At that time, the company had only two offices in Russia, in Moscow and St. Petersburg, with 400 and 150 people on its payroll, respectively. Right now, according to the Huawei official website, R&D centers have opened in Nizhny Novgorod, Novosibirsk and Minsk. Together, they form the Huawei Russian Research Institute. In total, about 800-900 people are on Huawei’s payroll in Russia currently, a source close to Huawei informed Vedomosti. The company plans to hire an additional 1,000 people by 2024, the source added.

Russia is one of the few countries in the world with an advanced mathematics community and a high volume of IT specialists, Director General of the MyOffice developing company Dmitry Komissarov said. In the short term, Huawei’s initiatives will lead to higher salaries, since the company is ready to pay more than double the market average, the expert noted. In the long term, this will lead to an increase in new highly qualified managers with an experience of working for an international IT corporation. Those specialists are likely to study the market and move to other positions in the country once their time at Huawei is over, Komissarov pointed out.

Huawei is not the first company to announce a large-scale hiring program for Russian IT specialists, Director General of Megaplan Sergei Kozlov notes. The lower the ruble exchange rate against the dollar is, the more beneficial it is for international companies to look for specialists in Russia, the expert points out. He noted that junior specialists would amount to over half of such hires, along with testers, with Huawei ready to offer a salary 20-40% higher than average.

RBC: Russia notes rise in poverty and decline in population due to COVID-19

The overall population in Russia will go down by 158,000 based on the outcomes of 2020, which is the highest figure in the past 14 years, the government’s united plan for reaching Russia’s national development goals until 2024 and for the planned period until 2030 in RBC’s possession reveals. According to the document, Russia’s population may begin to increase again only after 2022. Previously, Russia documented a greater population decrease in 2006, when that statistic saw a drop of 373,900 people.

Two sources close to the government confirmed the document’s authenticity to RBC, noting that its final version is not ready yet.

The level of poverty in Russia, that is, the share of the population with an income below the living wage, will rise to 13.3% of the population compared to 12.3% in 2019. The government predicts that poverty will continue to increase, the document notes.

The novel coronavirus pandemic has undermined the rise in the Russian population due to immigration. The immigration flow in January-June 2020 reached just 48,800 people (compared to 134,000 people in January-June 2019), the Russian Federal State Statistics Service informed in its recent report. In the first half of 2020, the migration flow compensated for the natural decrease in the Russian population just by 18.4%.

The pandemic has also caused a significant drop in people’s income and a rise in unemployment. One in two employed Russians took a salary cut during the pandemic period (March-May 2020), analytical data provided by Sberbank's project Sberdannye informs. All these factors affect the revenue of households, which leads to a rise in the poverty level, Elena Grishina, director of RANEPA's Laboratory of Research of Pension Systems and Actuarial Forecasting of Social Sphere, told the newspaper. It is unlikely that the negative effects of the second quarter of 2020 will be reduced in the second half of the year, Grishina pointed out.

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