Clear evidence Russia interfered in 2015 British election, says former Labour minister
Katie Forster, Independent (UK), Feb 21 2017
There is “clear evidence” that Russia interfered directly in UK elections, a Labour former minister has said. Chris Bryant told Parliament some of the top-level decisions affecting security in Britain had also been “compromised by Russian infiltration.” The former Europe minister’s comments came after it emerged that political parties in the UK have approached the security agencies for help following a cyber-attack during the 2015 British general election. He said:
There is now clear evidence of Russian direct, corrupt involvement in elections in France, in Germany, in Pindostan, and I would argue also in this country. Many believe that some of the highest-level decisions affecting security in Britain, in Germany, in France and in Pindostan are now compromised by Russian infiltration.
The head of Britain’s new National Cyber-Security Centre, Ciaran Martin, said that “informal” talks had been held with the parties and a programme to protect their sensitive online information will be put in place in the near future.
Attempted cyber-attacks in the run-up to the May 2015 elections, with a rise in clandestine online activity by Russia across Britain at the time, have been reported by security sources. There had been persistent and rising reports of the Kremlin’s interference in the West’s political system using cyber-attacks, including the hacking of the DNC + Podesta emails as part of an alleged campaign by Russia to help Trump win the election. There are also fears that coming elections in Holland, France and Germany may be vulnerable. Right-wing populist parties with varying degrees of Russian support (from zero upwards – RB) will be running. Front-runner E Macron has also accused Russia and its state-owned media of using hacking and fake news to interfere with the French presidential race. Cyber-security chief Martin said:
Across the West we are on the alert and looking at defences in that sort of areas of the electoral process. This is obviously an area of concern.
Labour former minister Ben Bradshaw has previously claimed it was “highly probable” Russia interfered in the EU referendum through cyber warfare, a claim for which the government says there is no evidence. Bryant, who was Labour’s Minister of State for Europe between 2009 to 2010, went on to criticise the west’s policy towards Russia in recent years, saying:
My personal perception is that both David Cameron and President Obama were very reluctant to show a strong arm to Russia, because they thought by pressing the reset button, that was Obama’s view, somehow or other you would manage to get major concessions out of Putin. I have to say, that has simply not proved to be an effective strategy. In every single regard, Putin has simply taken those moments as a sign of weakness and preceded to use force in greater degree.
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