A lack of curiosity about possible Russian interference in the internal politics of the United Kingdom: this is what the government accuses the highly anticipated report of the Committee on Intelligence and Security (ISC).
This British parliamentary committee looked in particular at the Brexit referendum campaign in 2016. In its 55-page report, it concludes that Russian influence on UK politics has become “the new normal”. situation “seriously underestimated” by the government. The committee asks the government to investigate.
No irrefutable evidence
ISC MPs have failed to identify evidence of Russian interference, either in the Brexit referendum campaign or the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, where 55% of voters voted to stay in the UK.
“There should have been an assessment of Russian interference in the referendum. There must be one and the results of this assessment must be made known to the public, ”Labor MP Kevan Jones said in presenting the report.
He said the United Kingdom did not assess Russian interference in the referendum on leaving the European Union, stressing the “stark contrast” with the American response to those on the 2016 presidential election.
Oligarchs welcomed with open arms
Shortly before the presentation of the report, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov assured that “Russia has never intervened in the electoral process of any country in the world, not in the United States, not in Great Britain, nor in any other ”.
The commission emphasizes that successive governments have welcomed the Russian oligarchs and their money “with open arms”, thus enabling them to gain a foothold in the United Kingdom. The report’s publication comes amid stormy weather between London and Moscow.
Last Thursday, the United Kingdom thus implicated “Russian actors” in interference during the campaign for the legislative elections last December. In question, the dissemination on the internet of documents relating to the negotiations between London and Washington on a future post-Brexit trade agreement.
Hackers very interested in finding a vaccine
London has also accused the Russian intelligence services of being behind computer attacks intended to seize the fruits of research on a vaccine against the new coronavirus.
According to the British government agency responsible for cybersecurity, a group of Russian hackers have lashed out at organizations in the UK, Canada and the United States for stealing their research into developing a vaccine against SARS-CoV2. The Kremlin has strongly denied “baseless allegations”.
Johnson accused of withholding information
The Intelligence and Security Committee launched its investigation in November 2017 and submitted its report to the Prime Minister last October. In early November, the government was criticized for not wanting to publish it before the December 12 election, largely won by the Conservatives of Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He then invoked questions of national security.
The ISC’s investigation aimed to address concerns about interference in the 2016 US election and the impact of disinformation campaigns originating from Russia.
Prime Minister of the day Theresa May accused Russia of spreading “false stories” to “sow discord in the West and undermine our institutions”.
Relations between London and Moscow are at their lowest since the poisoning with a nerve agent of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, who had survived, in Salisbury (southwest) in March 2018. Russia had denied any involvement, but the affair had resulted in a wave of cross-expulsions of diplomats between London and its allies and Moscow.