The Current

Germany concerned over Russian interference in upcoming election, after U.S. hacking

European governments express concern for upcoming national elections with the emergence of Russian propaganda and other signs of "outside manipulation" in their countries.
Earlier this month, the head of the German domestic intelligence agency confirmed that an earlier hack against the Bundestag Parliament was carried by the same Russian group that hacked the US Democratic National Committee. (Stephance de Sakutin/AFP/Getty Images)

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In the wake of the CIA assessment of Russia's interference of the U.S. election, European governments are expressing concern the Kremlin will do the same in their upcoming campaigns.

"It is possible that Russia will try to influence next year's elections with cyber attacks," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Janosch Delcker, a correspondent with Politico Europe, says Merkel's straightforward comment is "remarkable" considering how consistently selective she is with her words.

Delcker tells The Current's Friday host Piya Chattopadhyay it's difficult to find definite proof of culpability in the realm of cyber attacks, but all indications and analyses point to ongoing interventions by Russia.

When you talk to officials off the record they all seem very, very concerned that these things are going on.- Janosch Delcker

According to Delcker, since Merkel is one of the most vocal critics of Putin's military interventions in Ukraine and Syria, "security officials are concerned Russia will try to influence public opinion against Merkel to strengthen Putin's position."

U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded the Kremlin intervened in the U.S. election in an effort to secure a win from Trump, who appears friendlier to Russian interests. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images)

Delcker says Russia has deployed an "information campaign" in Germany. He points to two major Russian state-funded news organizations who opened German outlets in 2014.

Anna Nemtsova, a reporter with Newsweek and The Daily Beast, has seen the effect of Russia's media campaign. "In Vienna, for instance, [I] met with local journalists and local editors to find many of them listen to Russia Today, instead of local news."

Russia Today is a state sponsored 24-hour English television station, which began in 2005, and is currently broadcast in many European countries.

Nemtsova says the Kremlin has been actively targeting far-right groups throughout Europe, with top Russians officials inviting their leaders to visit Moscow.

A far-right group in Sweden, who openly supports Nazi ideas, received money from a pro-Kremlin party in Russia.

There is legitimate concern Russia's propaganda campaign is working. In Austria, the right-wing party Austrian Freedom Party, which has 52 per cent of the popular vote, talks openly and positively about Putin's policies.  

This segment was produced by The Current's John Chipman and Lara O'Brien.

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this webpost.