No sign yet of foreign election influence effort

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A government official said September 17 that so far there has been no sign of attempts to influence Latvia's election campaign by foreign powers.

In the run-up to the 13th Saeima elections which will be held on October 6, no major information campaign has been identified to influence the voters' mood, Kaspars Ozoliņš, Deputy Director of the State Chancellery with responsibility for hybrid hazard prevention policy, told Latvian Radio. He warned that the public should remain prepared for such a possibility however.

"Compared to what we have seen previously in other countries, a massive, organized information campaign with the purpose of influencing voters has not been witnessed at the moment," said Ozoliņš.

"There have certain elements and known tactics with which we have become familiar, and of course certain narratives used by Russian media ," he noted, while admitting this did not appear to be a major info-assault.

It is a similar picture in the area of cyber threats, he suggested.

"With regard to cyber activity our working group's understanding is... that cyber attacks are illegal activity no matter where they originate from... the important thing is to protect the state's information systems from any attempted interference in how it functions during the election period."

"In this respect [cyber attacks] at the moment activity is not large," he said, while reminding the public that troll farms and automated accounts could be activated very quickly if ordered to do so.

"We have three weeks to go [before the election] and we have to be especially vigilant and monitor what is happening in the social media space," Ozoliņš said. 

The deputy director of the State Chancellery pointed out that if an information assault was launched, people should retain cool heads to deal with it.  Ozoliņš also stressed that it is important to seek out and receive information from quality sources and to consider whether media sources have hidden agendas. 


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