Crime & Justice

Merkel: cyber-disorientation, distortion of facts part of Kremlin's strategy

Caravanserai and AFP

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to members of the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament, May 13 in Berlin. [John MacDougall/AFP]

BERLIN -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced frustration Wednesday (May 13) with the Kremlin's ongoing attempts to hack her personal accounts and spy on leading politicians.

"I can honestly say that it pains me. Every day I try to build a better relationship with Russia, and on the other hand, there is such hard evidence that Russian forces are doing this," she told parliament.

Calling such cyber attacks "more than uncomfortable", Merkel raised the spectre of sanctions if such rogue activity did not stop.

Germany's intelligence service has repeatedly called out attempts by Russian hackers to spy on lawmakers or leading politicians.

Among information copied by hackers in 2015 were data from Merkel's email account, reported German media. That attack also targeted the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament.

Investigators into the 2015 hacking had identified a specific suspect, said Merkel.

"Unfortunately the conclusion I have reached is that this is not new," she said, noting that "cyber-disorientation, the distortion of facts" were all part of "Russia's strategy".

Nothing new

Evidence of the Kremlin's ongoing attempts to hack accounts of world leaders and spreading disinformation is abundant.

The Chinese and Russian regimes are stepping up co-operation to spread false narratives over the coronavirus pandemic, with Beijing increasingly adopting techniques honed by Moscow, observers noted earlier in May.

While the world is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, and Russia now suffering immensely, the Kremlin continues to spread damaging disinformation about the deadly virus, and endangering lives worldwide, according to a recent European Union (EU) study.

Thousands of Russia-linked social media accounts in March had been seen co-ordinating efforts to spread conspiracy theories about the coronavirus when fears began to deepen.

Ironically Russian lawmakers at the end of March approved severe punishment for those convicted of spreading false information about COVID-19 at home, yet pro-Kremlin media outlets continue to put lives at risk via disinformation campaigns aimed at worsening the crisis in the West.

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Russia is a lying, half-baked country

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New sanctions should be imposed on Russia

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