Disinfo: There is no evidence of Russian attempts to influence the 2019 EU elections

Summary

There is no evidence of Russian attempts to influence the EU parliamentary elections in May 2019. The European establishment needs fake news about “external interference” in order to draw voters’ attention to the upcoming elections and mobilise them. With such advance declarations, the mainstream media tries to justify a possible defeat and the victory of the Eurosceptics. The latter could actually claim the formation of a strong group in the future European Parliament. If that happens, the elites will need someone to blame. Russia is already identified as the culprit.

Disproof
Disinformation produced and/or spread by Russian sources has been reported in the context of several elections and referenda in the EU, as noted in the EU's action plan against disinformation.
Ahead of the European elections, Microsoft registered cyberattacks targeting think tanks and non-profit organizations working on topics related to democracy, electoral integrity, and public policy and that are often in contact with government officials. Microsoft continues to investigate the sources of these attacks, but is confident that many of them originated from a group called Strontium, also known as APT 28 or Fancy Bear – which is believed to be associated with Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU. Read more here.

According to the latest annual threat assessment by the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service, NBC News reports, "Russian intelligence services will continue the extensive cyber-espionage campaign against the West that they have pursued for years, with the military intelligence service, called the GRU, and Russia's spy agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB) directing most operations". The Director General of the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service, Mikk Marran, says that Russia will target the European parliamentary elections in May with a likely focus on the larger member states — Germany, France and Italy. A report by the European Council for International Relations assesses it is highly likely that Moscow will attempt to manipulate the European elections, given Russia's interference in recent national elections in Europe. Also, the Financial Times points out that Russia-linked hackers have sharply stepped up a campaign to disrupt EU elections in May, leaving EU officials and tech companies scrambling to muster a response.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 141
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 12/03/2019
  • Language/target audience: German
  • Country: Russia
  • Keywords: EU elections 2019, European Union, Anti-Russian, Russophobia

Disclaimer

Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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US Senate: no ties between Donald Trump and Moscow

In February, the US Senate announced the absence of “ties” between the American leader Donald Trump and Moscow. The Commission responsible for the investigation could not reveal any facts or evidence of the alleged collusion of Donald Trump’s campaign headquarters with Russia in 2016.

Disproof

This statement is a recurring Kremlin narrative that was already debunked. RT, once again, used claims, not supported by the CBS report. More disinformation cases on Russian interference in US election here.

Russia is not interfering in the EU elections

There are no examples confirming the alleged “sharp activation” of Russian hackers from Russia targeting the European elections, none are given. If European politicians had some information, it would be logical to share it.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the EU elections 2019 and election meddling. In January, Microsoft found that a group of hackers called Fancy Bear targeted email accounts of European think tanks and NGOs as well as political opponents of Russian president Vladimir Putin. The group, believed to be associated with the Russian intelligence, were spreading messages aimed at disrupting upcoming elections. Fancy Bear was previously involved in 2016 hacking of the Democratic National Committee of the United States. According to Politico, hackers tried to hack EU member states’ institutions, political parties and elections 11 times in the last five years. In August 2015, hackers associated with Fancy Bear infiltrated IT networks of Germany’s parliament. In May 2017, hackers attacked elections in France while targeting Macron’s campaign. On February 2018, the head of the top six U.S. intelligence agencies confirmed that Russia interfered into the U.S. 2016 election campaign. Russian or Russia-linked hackers interfered into computers of the Democratic party, personal Gmail account of Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta and disseminated fake news on social media. In addition, the US Justice Department has charged 12 Russian intelligence officers with hacking Democratic officials in the 2016 US elections. Previously, 13 Russian citizens as well as the Internet Research Agency, Concord Management and Concord Catering had been charged with interfering with the US political system.

US, backed by Syrian rebels, prevents refugees from leaving Al Rukban camp

Around 40,000 people are trapped in the refugee camp of Al Rukban, on the Syrian border with Jordan and inside the US-controlled area around the base of Al Tanf. The US is obstructing the rescue operation by refusing to protect the convoy that should take refugees out of the camp.

Disproof

Since it is becoming impossible to continue affirming that US troops and the groups they support are impeding the exit of the refugees, the narrative has shifted to claims that the US is voluntarily frustrating the rescue operation by refusing to protect the convoy of the vehicles that were going to carry civilians out of the camp.

US State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino said that Washington "fully supports a process that is free from coercion and allows for safe, voluntary, and dignified departures for those wishing to leave Rukban". A Syrian rebel commander for a US-backed group in the area declared that Russian military police and Syrian troops are the ones blocking humanitarian supplies from reaching Rukban in order "to get people to leave by force".