Journalist tailed by Russian tough guys decries Kremlin intimidation tactics

As Americans, it is of the utmost importance that we realize the Russian government isn’t working to make the world a better place.

The RussiaGate investigation and its conclusion in the Mueller report have pitted us against each other.  This Team A versus Team B mentality is almost certainly a result of the mainstream media’s investment into our tribalistic nature, as this sort of conflict drives ratings and revenue, but it nefariously forces us to choose sides in an argument that shouldn’t exist.

In short, nobody should be defending The Kremlin, but pinning Russia to the Trump administration in any which way isn’t healthy for our democracy.

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A stark reminder of their troubling behavior has once again been thrust our direction this week.

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CNN’s Clarissa Ward says her story this week about Russian involvement in the Central African Republic came with a price: she was trailed during her reporting and made the subject of a 15-minute propaganda video denigrating her work.

“This was very clearly an attempt to discredit and intimidate us,” Ward, CNN’s chief international correspondent, said Friday.

So what exactly happened?

Her story about Russian involvement in gold mining and other activities in the African nation touched upon the role of Wagner, a private Russian military contractor believed to be backed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman with close ties to the Kremlin. Prigozhin was sanctioned by the U.S. for investing in organizations that tried to influence the 2016 American presidential election.

Ward’s first reporting visit to the Central African Republic went smoothly, but troubles emerged when she returned. She and her team had problems getting accreditation, were accused of smuggling and of having fake documents.

During a visit to a gold mine, Ward said she noticed a vehicle with four white men following them. She approached the car and the men swiveled their heads to avoid being seen on camera and drove away. She saw the same vehicle later near her hotel.

The intimidation campaign continued.

Four days before Ward’s report was scheduled to run, a “teaser” video asking “what is the dirty secret behind CNN’s trip to Africa?” appeared on RIA FAN, or Federal News Agency, a news portal believed to be linked to Prigozhin. Days later, the site posted a 15-minute video charging that Ward offered people in Africa $100 to say something bad about Russia. Ward denies offering any bribes.

Ward was rightfully shaken.

“It’s a very clear warning to me and my team who had worked on the reporting,” she said. “This time, we may have rattled your cage a little bit. But next time it could be different, so be careful.”

Yet again we have a reminder of how actively Russia and their government stooges are using intimidation and malice to protect their interests on the global stage, and we would be remiss in accepting any actions taken by The Kremlin as benevolent.

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