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In-Depth Interview: Journalist Yasha Levine Offers History, Context to Russian Cyberwarfare Allegations

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Yasha Levine Skypes in from St. Petersburg, Russia, to talk about the evidence-free claims of Russian hacking in the US in 2016, and provides some history and context from Russia’s brief war with Georgia in 2008.Levine published this 15-page article at The Baffler last week.

We open the conversation with comments on the broad, undefined references to Russia in media reports and political commentary, presenting a cartoon image of Russia similar to Boris and Natasha Badenov in the old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons.  We recap the unproven claims using artful language like “hacking consistent with Russian methods” in the two reports from the US intelligence leader, James Clapper; and Obama’s false choice: “who do you want to believe, our intelligence agencies or the Russians?”

We talk about the recent leak of Vault 7, which reveals CIA possession of hacking tools that can make a CIA hack look like a Russian hack; this is not new information for many of us.

Then Levine explains the 2008 war between Georgia and its breakaway neighbor, South Ossetia, a 5-day conflict that quickly drew in Russian forces.  Levine explains the charges of cyberwarfare that were traded between Georgia and Russia, for which he could find no credible evidence.

He sums up the interview in response to PBC’s question: who CAN we believe in this controversy? to which he responds: “you can’t believe anyone”.