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UK's Russia Report: what was in it and who's to blame?

The intelligence and security committee’s damning report claims that UK authorities "actively avoided" looking for interference during the EU referendum.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 21: Scotland Secretary Alister Jack and Prime minister Boris Johnson leave a cabinet meeting at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the first since mid-March for the first time since the lockdown on July 21, 2020 in London, E
Peter SummersGetty Images

The UK intelligence and security committee’s (ISC) long-awaited Russia report has concluded there was “credible open source commentary” that Russia meddled in the 2014 Scottish Referendum, while criticising the British government and intelligence agencies for failing to properly investigate possible Kremlin interference in the 2016 EU referendum.

The report, which was leaked on Tuesday by political website Guido Fawkes ahead of its official release date, claims that UK authorities "actively avoided" looking for interference during the EU referendum, despite the fact that Britain was “clearly a target” for disinformation campaigns around its elections.

“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,” the report says.

The ISC has called on British intelligence agencies to carry out an "analogous assessment" of potential Kremlin interference in the Brexit referendum, labelling the UK as one of Russia’s “top targets” in the West.

“Russia’s cyber capability is a matter of grave concern and poses an immediate and urgent threat to our national security,” stated the ISC, which also claimed that London has long welcomed corrupt Russian money following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

“The UK welcomed Russian money, and few questions – if any – were asked about the provenance of this considerable wealth,” the report said.

“The UK has been viewed as a particularly favourable destination for Russian oligarchs and their money. It offered ideal mechanisms by which illicit finance could be recycled through what has been referred to as the London 'laundromat'."

Vladimir Putin has repeatedly denied claims of Russian meddling in Western elections.
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Vladimir Putin has repeatedly denied claims of Russian meddling in Western elections.DPA vía Europa Press

UK and Russian government response

Following the release of the leaked report, the UK government dismissed the ISC’s calls for an investigation into Brexit referendum interference, claiming there was no evidence of successful Russian meddling.

“We have seen no evidence of successful interference in the EU Referendum,” the government said. “A retrospective assessment of the EU Referendum is not necessary.”

Meanwhile, the Kremlin has denied the ISC’s accusations of meddling, stating Russia has never interfered in another country's electoral processes. The Vladimir Putin-led administration government has repeatedly denied allegations of Western election interference.


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