HERE WE GO AGAIN: EU says Russia is a threat to Europe’s ‘free and fair parliamentary elections’

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BRUSSELS, Belgium – The Council of the European Union described Russia as a “threat to the EU’s free and fair parliamentary elections” to be held in May, citing the country’s alleged “disinformation strategies”.

“The sources and phenomena of disinformation can be identified inside and outside the Union and come from a range of state and non-state actors. In this regard, efforts must target evil actors, including Russian sources,” said the Council European Union of the document which presented the official conclusions of the bloc on the subject.

The Council accused Russian sources of increasingly using disinformation strategies and suggested that any action against them should be guided by analyzes of threats and intelligence assessments.

With less than 100 days left for the vote to be taken by the new representatives of the European Parliament, the Council suggested the initiation of an initiative seeking to establish a common approach to suspected misinformation and other malicious practices which Member States believe would hinder the process electoral.

Measures include strengthening preparedness for cyber threats, setting up a network of fact-checkers to detect disinformation on social networks, and setting up an early warning system to share data on disinformation campaigns.

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Russia has repeatedly refuted allegations that it interferes in the electoral processes of other countries. Russian envoy to the European Union, Vladimir Chizhov, accused the bloc in December of blaming Russia for interference even before preparations for the elections begin.

An Opinion poll in the middle of 2017 found that 86% of Germans, 85% of Poles, 79% of French and 68% of citizens of the United Kingdom said “yes” to the question whether they would like to see relations between the EU and Russia improve in the future next.

Among the respondents, those who manifest themselves especially in favor of the reestablishment of closer relations are the men older than 35 years. As for political preferences, the representatives of the French right are more in favor of improving relations with Russia than those of the left: 85% against 79%. On the contrary, in Germany, Poland and the United Kingdom, it is the left that is most interested in reestablishing relations.

If we take gender into account, men in France (85% versus 75% of women), Germany (90% versus 84%) and the United Kingdom (71% vs. 64%) are the major supporters of improving relationships between Russia and Europe.

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