Q: What is the Authoritarian Interference Tracker?
The Alliance for Securing Democracy’s (ASD) Authoritarian Interference Tracker is a new interactive tool for analyzing the patterns and evolution of the Russian government’s interference operations across the transatlantic space. The Tracker catalogs over 400 incidents of authoritarian interference employed in 42 countries since 2000, drawing on data from open source reporting and publications. The incidents involve the use of five asymmetric tools – information operations, cyberattacks, subversion of political parties and advocacy groups, strategic economic coercion, and malign finance – to undermine other countries’ democratic institutions. The Tracker is intended to facilitate greater public understanding of the threats authoritarian interference presents to democracies, and to catalyze more effective responses by democracies to counter future interference.
Q: How were incidents of interference selected?
All of the data included in this project is derived from open source reporting and the work of investigative journalists, security experts, and governments. Additionally, ASD partnered with third-party experts to leverage their in-country expertise in curating this data. Due to the often covert nature of authoritarian interference activities, identifying clear and direct attribution is often difficult. The data in the Tracker only include incidents where there has been credible public attribution to Russian-linked entities.
Q: How were incidents of interference categorized?
As mentioned, ASD divides the data presented in the Tracker according to five interconnected asymmetric tools – information operations, cyberattacks, subversion of political parties and advocacy groups, strategic economic coercion, and malign finance. The majority of incidents fit cleanly into one of the five categories. However, many of the data entries are cross-tagged with multiple tools, highlighting how the Kremlin uses various tactics simultaneously to undermine and destabilize democracies.
Q: How often will the Tracker be updated?
It will be updated continuously to reflect emerging trends and developments. Given our desire to provide clear and direct attribution, updates will only be made when we are confident of the attributions in open source findings.
Q: Does the Tracker include every instance of Russian interference?
No. ASD’s Authoritarian Interference Tracker does not capture every single instance of Russian government interference in democracies. Limitations in open source information and the ambiguous nature of interference operations prevent the creation of such a data set. Instead, the Tracker captures a large, representative subset of the Russian government’s interference efforts across the transatlantic space, illuminating the trends and network of tools employed to undermine democratic institutions.
Q: Will other authoritarian countries be included?
Yes. Because the tactics highlighted in this project are not unique to the Russian government, ASD will expand the Tracker to identify authoritarian interference conducted by other states as well.
Q: Is the Tracker connected to Hamilton 68?
Yes and no. Both Hamilton 68 and the Tracker are public tools from ASD that seek to increase public understanding of the methods used by authoritarian governments to interfere in democracies. However, data from the Hamilton 68 dashboard is not incorporated into the Tracker.
Q: How should the Tracker be cited?
This Authoritarian Interference Tracker is a tool provided by the Alliance for Securing Democracy, a bipartisan, transatlantic initiative housed at The German Marshall Fund of the United States.
Q: Can I contact ASD to flag new incidents?
Yes. The Authoritarian Interference Tracker is a living project leveraged from the open source community. Please send incidents for inclusion in the Tracker to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: How can I contact ASD with a media request?
Media requests can be sent to email@example.com.
The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.