2020.02.04 16:12

Russia didn't interfere in Lithuania's presidential election – intelligence

Vaidotas Beniušis, BNS2020.02.04 16:12

Russia did not try to influence the outcome of Lithuania's 2019 presidential election, according to Lithuanian intelligence. However, Moscow did run slander campaigns and sought for loyal politicians to win in the local election.

Lithuanian intelligence bodies published the yearly National Threat Assessment report on Tuesday:
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“Russia monitored the 2019 elections and other political processes in Lithuania, but there were no large-scale attempts to influence their outcome or manipulate public opinion,” the Lithuanian State Security Department and the Second Investigation Department under the Defence Ministry said in their National Threat Assessment 2020.

“During the election campaign, Russian propagandists did not focus on campaigning for any particular candidate, but rather ran slander campaigns against Lithuanian politicians who were most critical of actions of Russian authorities,” they said.

Local elections were an “exception” as Russia “sought to ensure that politicians loyal to it retained their positions in the municipalities”.

In 2019, Lithuania held presidential, European Parliament and municipal elections last year.

State Security Department director Darius Jauniškis told the media on Tuesday that Russia might try to interfere in Lithuania's parliamentary election in October.

“We can't rule out attempts to interfere in the Seimas election,” he said, noting that no such effort had been detected so far.

According to Lithuanian intelligence, the conditions for Russia to interfere in political decision-making are “limited”, even though the Moscow “does not abandon its objective to interfere with Lithuania's domestic political processes”.

Russia “seeks to expand its influence in the West through parliamentary diplomacy”, the report said, adding that “Moscow's main goals are to legitimise the results of its aggression against Ukraine and to incite disagreements among Western countries about the policy of sanctions against Russia”.

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