German govt says it has no proof Russia trying to hack upcoming elections
German government has officially admitted that it has no solid evidence that Russia is planning to interfere into the Germany’s upcoming federal parliamentary elections in 2017 as it answered a request from an MP amid ongoing anti-Russian hysteria.
All accusations against Russia concerning its potential meddling with the German parliamentary elections, which are due to be held in September 2017, are just “assumptions” based on the claims of the US politicians that Russian hackers interfered into the US elections via DNC email hacks.
“The federal government particularly refers to the fact that it was revealed in July 2016 that a successful hacking attack, which resulted in a subsequent data theft, was carried out on the servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the central committee of the Democratic Party of the United States,” the German government’s official answer to the request filed by the German MP from the Left Party, Andrej Hunko, says.
At the same time, the answer, prepared by the German Interior Ministry, stresses that the government has no evidence of Russia’s meddling with the results of the Brexit referendum, in which slightly more than a half of the British citizens supported the idea of leaving the EU.
“The federal government has no evidence of the alleged Russian hacking attack aimed at influencing the results of the Brexit vote in the UK,” the statement says.
Hunko filed an official request to the government, asking it to explain “what shaky or solid evidence the government has that allow it to state that ‘Russian intelligence’ is allegedly planning to ‘interfere with’ the federal elections in the coming year ‘through cyberattacks.’”
“The answer of the Interior Ministry about the alleged Russian state-sponsored cyber-attacks shows that such accusations do not stand up to scrutiny,” the MP told RT Deutsch, adding that “no [Russia’s] plans to interfere into the parliamentary elections” are apparently known to the German government.
“The government is unable to prove [its claims concerning] the Russian ‘disinformation’ [campaign],” he added. Later, he said that his request was prompted by an ongoing massive anti-Russian campaign waged by the German politicians and the media.
“There are a lot of articles in the German media claiming that Russia will interfere into the upcoming federal elections next year. I asked the government … if there is any proof [of such allegations]. And the answer is that there is no real evidence [of that],” Hunko told RT.
“They did not get any proof but got only indications concerning the DNC leak. So, now, it is official that they do not have any proofs and this debate could be stopped in Germany,” he added.
Anti-Russian scaremongering campaign
German newspapers indeed repeatedly came out with provocative headlines that fueled anti-Russian sentiments. In December, a number of German media published articles speculating about possible Russian hacking attacks aimed at meddling with the German parliamentary election results.
Neue Osnabrueckener Zeitung posed a rhetoric question whether Russian hackers can manipulate parliamentary elections while Die Zeit daily reported about a German intelligence chief, who warned of sabotage attempts from Russia.
Meanwhile, the FAZ daily claimed that Russia had already hacked secret files from the Bundestag – the lower house of the German parliament – citing unidentified security sources. On Friday, Stuttgarter Zeitung raised the issue of “fear of falsifications” that could be a result of the Russian hackers’ attack on Germany.
In late November, German Chancellor Angela Merkel also implied that Russian hackers could be behind some attacks in Germany. Speaking about the hacking attacks on major German telecommunications group Deutsche Telecom, which hit some 900,000 of the company’s customers, she alluded to a link between the incident and Russia.
"Such cyberattacks, or hybrid conflicts as they are known in Russian doctrine, are now part of daily life and we must learn to cope with them," she said at that time.
Earlier in November, she said that handling “internet attacks that are of Russian origin or with news which sows false information” has become a “daily task,” adding that “it may be that this could also play a role during the election campaign.”
Bruno Kahl, the head of Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the BND, then claimed that his agency has evidence that Russia may have manipulated the vote during the 2016 US election. "The perpetrators are interested in delegitimizing the democratic process as such, no matter who that subsequently helps,” he claimed, commenting on the issue.
However, even the US security services are still unable to provide a solid evidence of Russia’s hacking attacks on the US as the latest report on “Russian malicious cyber activity” features the actual words “Russia” and “Russian” are mentioned only three times, with just 11 instances of “RIS” – a custom, catch-all acronym standing for “Russian Intelligence Services” without naming any.
It also provides no clear evidence of connection between the hacker groups allegedly involved in cyber-attacks in the US and Russian intelligence services. Instead, the document features a disclaimer saying that “the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not provide any warranties of any kind regarding any information contained within.”
However, the fact that the evidence of Russia’s involvement in any cyber-attacks on US territory is still rather shaky did not stop the White House and Treasury Department from imposing new sanctions against Russia over the alleged hacking of US elections.
On Thursday, Obama issued sanctions against six Russian nationals and five institutions, including the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU). At the same time, the US expelled 35 Russian diplomats and closed two Russian compounds in New York and Maryland.
In response, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that “such actions of the US current administration are a manifestation of an unpredictable and even aggressive foreign policy” and expressed regret over the fact that “the fact that this decision was taken by the US administration and President Obama personally."