Russia’s Playbook for Disrupting Democracy

Producer/Director John Marks

Russia’s brazen interference in the 2016 American presidential election shouldn’t have been a total shock. President Vladimir Putin’s government had done it before, almost a decade earlier in tiny Estonia, where Russian operatives provoked political violence and mounted malicious cyberattacks.

In fact, many of the methods Moscow used back in 2007 to disrupt Estonian democracy are eerily similar to tactics Russian operatives used to hack American politics — an effort that intelligence officials and security experts warn is still underway.

“The Weekly” travels to Estonia, where our correspondent Matt Apuzzo pieces together clues hiding in plain sight, and he examines how vulnerable American democracy is to Russian hackers well-practiced in spreading disinformation, exploiting political differences and sowing chaos and mistrust.

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Senior Story Editors Dan Barry, Liz O. Baylen, and Liz Day
Director of Photography Philipp Friesenbichler
Video Editor Geoff O’Brien
Associate Producer Lora Moftah