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UK, USA & Canada Accuse Russia Of Influencing Moldova’s Election

The joint statement, made on the first day of the G7 summit in Italy, comes ahead of the October elections in Moldova.

by Alan J June 14th, 2024

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The UK, US and Canada have accused Russia of an elaborate plot to interfere in Moldova’s upcoming presidential election and referendum on EU membership. The allegations came in a joint statement released on the opening day of the G7 summit, pointing to a far-reaching campaign of political meddling by Moscow.

The three nations claim Russia is actively spreading disinformation to ‘undermine Moldovan democratic institutions’ and ‘degrade public confidence’ in the government ahead of the votes on October 20th. Specific targets include President Maia Sandu and her pro-Western administration, which has strongly backed Ukraine in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Kremlin Actors Seeking to Discredit Moldova’s Leaders

According to a statement from the U.S. Embassy in Russia, Russian threat actors are aggressively distributing propaganda to “foment negative public perceptions” of President Sandu. This involves fabricating electoral irregularities while also aiming to incite protests if the incumbent president is re-elected.

The plot dates back years, with the Kremlin providing support to fugitive Moldovan businessman Ilan Shor. Shor had previously been sentenced to 15 years in prison in connection with the disappearance of $1 billion from Moldovan banks in 2014. All three countries had issued sanctions on Shor for his connection to the incident. The statement singled out Russian state-television channel RT for providing several years of support to Shor.

The UK, US and Canada claim they have already shared detailed evidence with Moldovan authorities to enable further investigation and disruption. They also state they will continue backing Moldova with a range of support measures as it deals with Russian interference and fallout from the Ukraine war.

All Three Countries Announce Support at G7 Summit

The three nations expressed confidence in Moldova’s ability to manage these threats linked to Russian interference. They have taken several measures to support Moldova’s efforts, including:

  • The sharing of detailed information with Moldovan partners to investigate, thwart, and put a stop to the Kremlin’s plans.
  • Increasing accountability and punishment for individuals and entities involved in covertly financing political activities in Moldova through sanctions and potential further actions.
  • Strongly supporting Moldova’s democratic, economic, security, and anti-corruption reforms, as well as its deepening European integration.

The three nations affirmed their support deepening ties between Moldova and the EU. President Sandu is widely perceived as a firmly pro-Ukranian and pro-Western leader since her election in 2020. In reaction, the Kremlin appears intent on preventing her re-election in order to install a more Russia-friendly president.

By publicizing the interference plot, the Western allies hope to deter Moscow while urging respect for Moldovan sovereignty and free, fair elections. However, with under five months until the votes, concerns remain high over Russia’s determination to influence election results. “We will continue to stand with all of our friends, partners, and Allies in defense of our shared democratic values and freedoms,” the statement read.

The U.S. embassy’s statement also highlighted the surrounding threat to elections in 2024, a year in which “hundreds of millions of people across Europe and North America go to the polls to select their leaders in European, national, regional, and local elections.”

Russia Is a Threat to Election Security: Researchers

An earlier report from Mandiant in April suggested that Russia presented the biggest threat to election security in the United States, United Kingdom and European Union. “Multiple Russian groups have targeted past elections in the U.S., France, and Ukraine, and these groups have continued to demonstrate the capability and intent to target elections both directly and indirectly,” the report stated.

Experts also fear Russian attempts at spreading disinformation or influencing public opinion on non-election events such as the upcoming 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

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