Sakharov Conference on Trolls, Disinformation and Hybrid Warfare

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What is the difference between Cold War and hybrid warfare? How are social networks exploited by Russian trolls? How is Russia infiltrating Western universities and think tanks? These and other issues will be discussed during the Ninth Sakharov Conference on 21-22 May in Vilnius by experts from the USA, United Kingdom, Finland, Estonia, Ukraine, the Netherlands and other countries.

One of the bravest critics of the Soviet regime, Nobel Prize Winner and human rights activist Andrei Sakharov would have turned 98 this year. The conference, which will mark his birthday on 21st of May, is organized by the Andrei Sakharov Research Center for Democratic Development, Vytautas Magnus University and the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in cooperation with the Martynas Mažvydas National Library.

This year’s conference is entitled “From Cold War to Hybrid War” and dedicated to current affairs that are primarily related to Lithuania’s big neighbour to the East: the change of Cold War to a Hybrid War, in which many new techniques are implemented that are mostly the result of modern technology.

“Elements of this Hybrid War are the active campaign of disinformation and influencing the political debate in Western countries, attempts to destabilize the European Union, as well as the active collaboration between the Kremlin and extreme right- and left-wing political parties and movements in the West, the active persecution and assassination of political opponents outside the border of the Russian Federation, and the links between the Russian leadership and criminality”, the head of the VMU Andrei Sakharov Research Center for Democratic Development, Professor Robert Van Voren, explains.

The international experts will exchange their ideas at the conference and discuss the methods for defending ourselves against hybrid warfare. Speakers will include long-time security-policy and economics expert Edward Lucas, British security expert Mark Galeotti, Andrei Sakharov’s granddaughter and human rights activist Marina Sacharov-Liberman, his stepdaughter, scientist Tatiana Yankelevich, Head of International Relations at NATO CCDCOE Illimar Lepik von Wirén and others.

Today Andrei Sakharov is seen as the symbol of the struggle for fundamental human rights. After gaining prominence as the inventor of the Soviet hydrogen bomb, the scientist became concerned about the consequences of his invention on the humanity’s future and began raising awareness of the dangers of nuclear arms. In the USSR, Andrei Sakharov was seen as a dangerous dissident. His efforts contributed to the signing of the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and the establishment of the Committee on Human Rights.

In recognition of his achievements, Sakharov was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975. Because of the activist’s consistent attempts to liberate other Soviet dissidents and criticism of the regime, Sakharov was exiled to the isolated city of Gorky to restrict his foreign connections. The European Parliament has established the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, which is awarded to those who fight for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The conference “From Cold War to Hybrid War” will be held on 21-22 May at the Martynas Mažvydas National Library (Gedimino pr. 51, Vilnius).

Vytautas Magnus University provides the possibility to travel to the conference on 21 May and 22 May by bus. The bus will depart at 7.15 a.m. Those who wish to make use of this opportunity are requested to contact Dainius Genys at dainius.genys@vdu.lt or +370-601243300.

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