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After nearly a year of waiting, the report into Russia’s involvement in UK politics has finally been released. But MEP Mr Verhofstadt has attacked the report claiming there were many unanswered questions.
Sharing an article to the Guardian on Twitter, Mr Verhofstadt said: “Brexit was always a git to Putin because it weakened the European Union & left Britain divided, isolated.
“The #RussiaReport shows just how many questions remain unanswered.”
The Investigation and Security Committee (ISC) launched an investigation following suspicions Russia had interfered with UK elections and referendums.
Although claiming it would “difficult – if not impossible – to prove” allegations Moscow tried to influence the Brexit vote from 2016, the report lashed out at the government for failing to recognise a threat posed by the Kremlin.
The report said: “It is nonetheless the Committee’s view that the UK Intelligence Community should produce an analogous assessment of potential Russian interference in the EU referendum and that an unclassified summary of it be published.”
The report compared Russian meddling in the UK with that of the US.
It said: “This situation is in stark contrast to the US handling of allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, where an intelligence community assessment was produced within two months of the vote, with an unclassified summary being made public.”
Despite finding the Kremlin did not meddle with the Brexit referendum in 2016, the inquiry suggested Russia had influence the Scottish independence vote back in 2014.
The ISC said: “There is credible open source commentary suggesting that Russia undertook influence campaigns in relation to the Scottish independence referendum in 2014.”
But the report claimed no effort was made to look at the Kremlin threat to British democracy until after the Brexit vote.
It suggests some exercise was conducted after the 2017 general election despite the US Democratic Party hacking the year before.
It said: “Had the relevant parts of the intelligence community conducted a similar threat assessment prior to the referendum, it is inconceivable that they would not have reached the same conclusion as to Russian intent, which might then have led them to take action to protect the process.”
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Shadow foreign secretary, Lisa Nandy, accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of taking the political decision to not publish the report ahead of the general election in December.
The report also said: “Several members of the Russian elite who are closely linked to [Vladimir] Putin are identified as being involved in charitable and/or political organisations in the UK, having donated to political parties, with a public profile which positions them to assist Russian influence operations.”
Although not naming anyone, it also claimed “notable that a number of members of the House of Lords have business interests to Russia or work directly for major Russian companies linked to the Russian state.”
The relationship between the UK and Russia has become strained over recent weeks.
Last week, Dominic Raab said the Government is “almost certain” Russian actors sought to interfere in the 2019 general election.
He said the documents relating to a possible free trade deal between the UK and US were “illicitly acquired”.
In a statement, the Foreign Secretary said: “On the basis of extensive analysis, the government has concluded that it is almost certain that Russian actors sought to interfere in the 2019 general election through the online amplification of illicitly acquired and leaked Government documents.
“Sensitive Government documents relating to the UK-US free trade agreement were illicitly acquired before the 2019 general election and disseminated online via the social media platform Reddit.
“When these gained no traction, further attempts were made to promote the illicitly acquired material online in the run-up to the general election.”
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