Russia Operatives Accused of 2019 Election Interference

The UK has accused Russia of interfering in the 2019 General Election by spreading online leaked government documents revealing negotiations with the US on trade.

A statement from the foreign secretary Dominic Raab branded the practice “completely unacceptable.

“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,” it noted.

The documents, which eventually ended up in the hands of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, detailed how the NHS was being used by the US as a bargaining chip in post-Brexit trade talks.

Raab avoided accusing the Kremlin of directly stealing the documents, which The Guardian claimed “are thought to have been obtained via a government special adviser’s personal email account.”

However, they were allegedly disseminated online by alleged Russian actors. They were posted first on Reddit last October by a user named “Gregoriator,” and then via Twitter by a user with the same name.

Social media analysts at Graphika reportedly claimed the spelling and grammatical mistakes in those posts are common to Russian language speakers, and the amplification techniques used are also said to be straight out of the Kremlin playbook.

The timing of Raab’s statement could be significant, as it comes ahead of a long-awaited intelligence report into whether Russia has influenced the democratic process in the UK, including the EU referendum.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and senior ministers have long dismissed such claims and Johnson has delayed the report’s release for many months.

“Today’s government claim is an attempt to divert attention from the threat to the NHS and the Tory party links to Russian oligarchs expected to be revealed in the long-buried parliamentary Russia report,” said former Labour leader Corbyn yesterday.

The news comes as the National Cyber Security Center yesterday revealed that Russian hackers were actively attempting to steal IP related to US, UK and Canadian efforts to find a COVID-19 vaccine.

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