West using election interference to 'weaken Russia' – report
A group of Russian lawmakers has accused Western nations of attempting to undermine the country’s parliamentary elections, while warning foreign states could also try to influence the upcoming 2024 presidential race.
On Wednesday, a commission of the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia’s parliament, released a report warning that the West was trying to make Russia easier to control. The policymakers who alleged interference in the parliamentary elections in September could be a sign of things to come. Specifically, the commission claimed, the vote to determine the country’s next president in just over two years’ time could become a target.
The authors of the report wrote that the alleged plan is “not in the interests of Russia’s security or the flowering of its people, but a means of deterring the Russian Federation, weakening it as much as possible.”
The country’s governing party, United Russia, won the September parliamentary elections handily, but lost some seats in local races. After the polls were over, lawmakers in the State Duma claimed that they had discovered attempts by more than two dozen NGOs to influence the results of the election. Vasily Piskarev, the head of the investigatory commission looking into foreign interference in Russia’s internal affairs, said that there had been a pre-planned campaign “to prompt people and shape their choices imposed on Russians during the voting.”
“Moreover, a number of foreign NGOs – more than 20 organizations in total – during the election campaign openly called on Facebook, Twitter and Google not to comply with authorities’ orders and ignore Russian legal requirements to take down banned content,” he went on.
Russian authorities had previously banned the use of the ‘Smart Voting’ app, designed by the team of jailed opposition figure Alexey Navalny to help voters choose which candidates would be most likely to defeat United Russia. After a warning from the media regulator Roskomnadzor, Google and Apple removed ‘Smart Voting’ from their app stores.
In November, two American congressmen submitted a proposal not to recognize Vladimir Putin as the president of Russia if he runs again and wins in 2024. Vyacheslav Volodin, the Chairman of the State Duma, argued that such actions demonstrate Washington’s fear of Russia and inability to deal with the country from anything but a confrontational position.