Russia sought to interfere in UK’s 2019 election – Dominic Raab

epa08392780 British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab arrives at 10 Downing Street in London, Britain, 30 April 2020. Britons are now in their fifth week of lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Countries around the world are taking increased measures to stem the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 disease. EPA-EFE/ANDY RAIN

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Russian groups “sought to interfere” in the U.K.’s general election last year, the country’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said.

In a written statement released Thursday, Raab said “on the basis of extensive analysis, 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.”

Russia, which has also faced allegations of trying to influence the outcome of elections in the United States and France, described the allegation as “so foggy and contradictory that it’s practically impossible to understand it”.

British foreign minister Dominic Raab said a government investigation had found that Russia tried repeatedly to meddle in last December’s election won by the Conservative Party, though the ultimate aim was not immediately published.

“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 said in a statement.

“Sensitive government documents relating to the UK-US Free Trade Agreement were illicitly acquired before the 2019 General Election and disseminated online via the social media platform Reddit.”

The investigation found that when these documents made little impact, further attempts were made to promote illicitly obtained material online before the election, Raab said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson won a landslide victory in the election against opposition Labour candidate Jeremy Corbyn.

“Whilst there is no evidence of a broad-spectrum Russian campaign against the General Election, any attempt to interfere in our democratic processes is completely unacceptable,” Raab said. “The government reserves the right to respond with appropriate measures in the future.”

President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer, has laughed off similar allegations in the past.

Raab made his comments hours after parliament’s intelligence and security committee said it would publish a long-delayed report into Russian influence in British politics.

A spokesman for Johnson said it was “nonsense” to suggest the government had issued the statement to detract from that report.

Relations between London and Moscow hit a post-Cold War low in 2018 when Britain blamed Moscow for trying to kill former double agent Sergei Skripal with a Soviet-developed nerve agent on British soil. Russia denied it was to blame.

U.S. intelligence believes Russia also sought to intervene in the 2016 presidential election to help eventual winner Donald Trump, and French President Emmanuel Macron has scolded Russia for spreading fake news about him during a 2017 election.

POLITICO / Reuters 

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