Disinfo: There is no evidence that Russia tried to influence electoral processes in Great Britain

Summary

British officials and media have repeatedly accused Russia of interfering, in recent years, in British electoral processes, alleging that Russian trolls on social media have tried to conduct campaigns of “weaponised information” to influence potential voters. Moscow has repeatedly denied these accusations. Last year, after a lengthy investigation, Facebook concluded that there “is absolutely no evidence” that Russia influenced the 2016 vote on Brexit using this social network and even that Russia tried to interfere “in a significant way”.

Disproof

This is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative attempting to depict accusations of Russian meddling in Western democratic processes as factually unfounded and driven by "Russophobia". The article repeats the disinformation message often spread by pro-Kremlin outlets claiming that there is no solid evidence to support the claim that Russia interfered in the 2016 Brexit referendum.

A UK Parliamentary inquiry and serious academic studies have found evidence about Russian state efforts to affect the outcome of the 2016 Brexit vote. One study showed that fake Russian Twitter accounts published at least 45,000 messages about Brexit in the 48 hours before the vote, most of them calling on British voters to reject the European Union. Moreover, according to data released by Twitter, Russian trolls sent thousands of messages with the hashtag #ReasonsToLeaveEU on the day of the Brexit referendum.

According to another research report, between 1 January 2016 and 23 June 2016 Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik published 261 media articles on the EU Referendum with an anti-EU sentiment. This report also showed that RT and Sputnik had more reach on Twitter for anti-EU content than either Vote Leave or Leave.EU, during the Referendum campaign.

There is also evidence that Russia tried to influence the 2019 British general elections by amplifying illicitly acquired sensitive and leaked documents about a planned UK-US free trade agreement.

UK Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee report into alleged Russian interference was released in July 2020 and can be read here.

Read our article on Russian election meddling in EU countries and in the US here. For more information on Russia's interference in Western democratic processes, see the EUvsDisinfo Elections page.

Read a similar case claiming that Twitter did not find evidence of  Russian efforts to influence Brexit.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 206
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 16/07/2020
  • Language/target audience: Italian
  • Country: UK, Russia
  • Keywords: election meddling, Russia Today (RT), Facebook, Brexit, Manipulated elections/referendum, Sputnik

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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Russia has not interfered in British elections nor in the elections of any country

Russia has not interfered in British elections nor in the elections of any country. Russia rejects any allegation of involvement in election interference in the UK and in any country.

Disproof

This is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative attempting to depict accusations of Russian meddling in Western democratic processes as factually unfounded and driven by "Russophobia". The article repeats the disinformation message often spread by pro-Kremlin outlets claiming that Russia never tried to influence British electoral processes, such as the 2016 Brexit referendum or the British 2017 and 2019 elections.

Independent research, media investigations and parliamentary inquiries have uncovered evidence linking Russian state actors with interference in various electoral processes, including the 2016 Brexit vote, the 2017 French Presidential elections, the 2017 German Parliamentary elections, the 2016 constitutional referendum in Italy and in the Dutch referendum on the EU’s Association Agreement with Ukraine.

MH-17 was an American Provocation, JIT does not take into account Russian findings

MH-17 crash was an American Provocation.

There were 283 passengers and 15 crew members on board: all died. The media reacted immediately to the Boeing crash. The West categorically blamed Russia for the incident, but without providing evidence.

We recall that a special investigation team was set up to investigate the tragedy under criminal law, including representatives from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine. Russian officials have repeatedly expressed a lack of confidence in the results of the investigation team’s work, pointing to the groundlessness of the prosecution’s arguments and reluctance to use the Russian side’s findings in the course of the investigation.

Despite the fact that the tragedy took place as early as 2014, no official data from the investigation were provided.

Disproof

One of the multiple disinformation narratives on the downing of the MH17 denying Russia's responsibility.

The Dutch-led criminal investigation by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has been ongoing since 2014. On 28 September 2016, the JIT announced that flight MH17 was shot down by a missile from the 9M38 series, which was launched by a BUK TELAR missile system. The system was transported from the Russian Federation to an agricultural field near the town of Pervomaiskiy in Eastern Ukraine, from where the missile was launched. After firing, the system, with one missing missile, went back to the Russian Federation. On 24 May 2018, the JIT announced its conclusion that the BUK TELAR used to shoot down MH17 came from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, a unit of the Russian armed forces from Kursk in the Russian Federation.

EU-Sanctions on Syria are unlawful and force Syrians to starve

The fact that the European Union at the end of May renewed its own sanctions against Syria, also in violation of international law, was not even mentioned in passing by the Tagesschau. (…) The sanctions (“maximum pressure”) are already formally incompatible with international law.

In the case of Syria, the West has no right to force a change in the office of the president. To further destroy the economically already ruined country and to accept countless deaths (…) is incompatible with all international legal norms.

In addition to a bombing war, partial occupation and the theft of Syrian oil resources, now this US-EU “support for the Syrian people”: it is now forced to starve. (…)  All of the EU and the US try to cloak and justify the criminality of their own politics with absurd accusations of guilt against Assad (“poison gas attacks”, “barrel bombs on their own people”).

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the Syrian war and belligerent intentions of the West against Syria.

Within the context of the Syrian conflict, EU sanctions, imposed since 9 May 2011, respond to the repression perpetrated on the Syrian people by the Syrian regime and its supporters, including through the use of live ammunition against peaceful protesters and the regime’s involvement in the proliferation and use of chemical weapons. EU sanctions against the regime were extended in May 2020 for one year.