Ždanoka aligns with Brexit party on Russian disinformation

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Latvian Member of the European Parliament Tatjana Ždanoka (Latvian Russian Union party) - widely regarded as a strongly pro-Kremlin voice in the European Parliament - voted alongside Nigel Farage and his anti-EU Brexit party October 10 against a motion that was heavily critical of Russian election interference.

Attempts to influence decision-making in the EU put at risk European democratic societies, warned MEPs in the resolution adopted on Thursday with 469 votes for, 143 against and 47 abstentions.

Parliament pointed out that foreign interference has a systematic pattern, be it through campaigns on social media, cyber-attacks on infrastructure related to elections or financial support to political parties in the run-up to all major national and European elections and that much of this interference benefits anti-EU, extremist and populist candidates.

Despite member states fully or partially banning foreign donations to political parties or candidates, foreign actors find ways to circumvent those rules, say MEPs, singling out cases of the Front National in France, and allegations reported by media on the Freedom Party in Austria, Lega in Italy and Leave.eu in the UK.

The resolution said Russia is the main source of disinformation in Europe and that its efforts in that direction had doubled since January 2019 (998 cases) as compared to 2018 (434 cases).

MEPs called for an upgrade of the EU East StratCom Task Force to a permanent structure with significantly higher financing and called on internet and social media companies to cooperate in countering disinformation, without undermining freedom of speech and on the EU to create a legal framework to counter hybrid threats.

However, Ždanoka and the Brexit cohort, plus some other right-wing and populist parties voted against the resolution. All of Latvia's other seven MEPs backed the resolution.

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