A report into Russian interference in British politics has revealed attempts by the Kremlin to guide the 2014 Scottish Independent Referendum.
Carried out by the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, the damning 50-page report reveals the extent to which Russia has been interfering in UK politics over the last five to seven years.
It is indicated that while the government was unaware such activities were taking place, it made no attempt to establish whether they had and failed to prepare or conduct any assessment of Kremlin attempts to interfere with the 2016 Brexit referendum.
The Conservative Party has been accused of attempting to cover up the report, which also explores interference in the 2016 general election, Russia-linked donations to British political parties, espionage and cyber crime activities.
A quote from the report stated: “Russia’s promotion of disinformation and attempts at political influence overseas – whether through the use of social media, hack and leak operations, or its state-owned traditional media – have been widely reported.
“In the UK, the use of a highly-dispersed paper-based voting and counting system makes actual interference with the mechanism difficult, but we should not be complacent about other forms of interference: the UK is clearly a target and must equip itself to counter such efforts.”
The report concedes that proving the impact of Russian ‘bots’ and ‘trolls’ to influence voters during the 2016 Brexit vote “would be difficult – if not impossible – to prove,”.
However, critics argue that the underlying issue the government’s apparent lack of response to potential threats.
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“What is clear is that Russian influence in the UK is ‘the new normal’,” the report states, “successive Governments have welcomed the Russian oligarchy with open arms, and there are a lot of Russians with very close links to Putin who are well integrated into the UK business, political and social scene – in ‘Londongrad’ in particular.”
On 16th July, Dominic Raab made the sudden announcement that the Russia sought to interfere in 2019 election by spreading documents online.
“On the basis of extensive analysis,” Raab said in a statement, “the government has concluded that it is almost certain that Russian actors sought to interfere in the 2019 general election through the online amplification of illicitly acquired and leaked government documents.”
Raab’s announcement followed a joint statement published by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) alongside international partners. The Centre alleged that a state-backed Russian hacker group, known as APT29, was targeting organisations developing Covid-19 vaccines.