Lawfare by Rogue Actors Against Democracy: From attempts to silence honest journalism to hijacking reality by legal means. What TransAtlantic efforts are needed to respond effectively?

6 December 2021  17:00 - 18:30

Virtual Event | Organised by ANTS Network | Held in Україна in English
Contact details: [email protected]
Defending against authoritarianism
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Lawfare is one of the tactics increasingly employed by rogue actors seeking to undermine democratic processes in countries around the world.

By abusing judicial processes or institutional proceedings, rogue actors turn the laws of our free societies into weapons undermining the very fabric of our democracies.

By maliciously taking advantage of legal instruments, they pervert our legal principles, harass people, target organizations, and undermine institutions to advance their nefarious agendas.

By using legal tools as political weapons to silence truth, validate falsities, and harass opponents, they subvert free democratic processes, and hijack our reality to affect our decision making.

Democracy cannot function in darkness or in some twisted twilight unreality crafted by the enemies of the free world. This is the information environment preferred by autocracies who attack our societies from within by abusing our laws, protections, and freedoms. In this respect, the subversive policies of the Russian government and affiliated actors to advance the Kremlin’s aggressive agenda deserve special attention.

The distinguished speakers we are to invite to the panel discussion will share their experiences and propose solutions on how to respond effectively to such lawfare attacks.

Trans-Atlantic unity and legislative initiatives are crucially important to tackle this growing threat to our societies.

The United States is leading the way by directing funding to help journalists overseas survive frivolous lawsuits meant to silence them. USAID chief Samantha Power announced at the beginning of November: “As autocrats grow savvier in their attempts to control and manipulate people, we need to help support a free and fair global press to hold leaders to account.”

Civil society in the EU is demanding from legislators to push back against vexatious lawsuits known as “SLAPPs” – Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation – with EU wide legal regulations protecting fundamental freedoms from attacks employing the abuse of the legal system to intimidate the legitimate participants of democratic society.

Lawfare by rogue actors has impacts on our media landscape. It disenfranchises our citizens by taking away their access to truthful information. It manipulates our decision making to the benefit of those seeking to undermine our societies. That is why it is our responsibility to respond to this increasing threat with effective measures to protect our democracies.


Speakers to be invited :

Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Estonia, former president of Estonia, 2006-2016, expert on the West’s “Schröderization”

Andrius Kubilius, Lithuania, Standing Rapporteur on Russia in the European Parliament (confirmed)

USAID High level representative to present a Global Defamation Defense Fund for protection of journalists against lawsuits designed to deter them

Nicolas Tenzer, France, Writer editor DeskRussie, Revue Le Banquet, chair CERAP Paris (currently defending against a lawsuit by RT France) (confirmed)

Andrew Rettman, Foreign editor EUobserver (has extensive experience of dealing with intimidation by Russia-connected actors)

Catherine Belton, author of “Putin’s people” book

Ariana Gic, Canadian political and legal analyst focused on Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, Director, Direct Initiative International Centre for Ukraine

Moderator – Hanna Hopko, Ukraine, former MP and head of Ukraine’s parliamentary committee on foreign affairs (2014-2019), Head of ANTS Network , Democracy in Action Conference Chairwoman, journalist by education. (Ms. Hopko is currently defending against a lawsuit by Viktor Medvedchuk, a US and Ukraine sanctioned Kremlin-backed oligarch and politician with personal ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.