We compiled a list, a month ago of methods on how foreign countries are most likely to interfere in the Parliamentary elections in Estonia. The Latvian parliamentary elections last Sunday offered an opportunity to check the validity of the list. We will go over the methods from point to point and look at the interventions that took place for our southern neighbours.
1.Communication in the Kremlin channels
Several press releases highlighted in recent months how the Russian media was targeting Latvian audiences to vote in favour of certain political parties. For example, the research center DFRLab graphically depicted how Russian minded political parties were supported by Kremlin propaganda. The inquiring publication Re: Baltica pointed out the same tendency. This mode of influence is likely to be the most widespread in the Estonian elections.
2.Leaking compromising information
There is no information available that this influence method has been implemented in the Latvian election. A couple of Latvian politians were written about in the foreign media, but they did not qualify as serious baring revelations compared to example of the publication of Hillary Clinton’s correspondence during the USA Presidential rally.
Despite lively discussions of somes (or social media) and in the commentary rooms, there are no references that foreign paid trolls influenced the Latvian elections.
Similar to Estonia, in Latvia many politians are stamped as extensions of foreign interests, influence agents and useful idiots – the reason for Kremlin propaganda talking points wounding rhetoric. For example, Veiko Spolitis wrote an opinion piece in the Eesti Paevaleht, how different political forces used the narrative of the „failed state“ when they spoke about Latvia prior to the election. Are such statements a sincere political platform, attention to communication technology or influence activity? There were no revealing articles indicating that any agents from behind the border were active in influencing the Latvian elections. It was definitely not the case prior to the elections.
5.The secret purchasing of adds in Social media
According to Re: Baltica this method was not seen in the Latvian elections.
The hacking of „Latvian Facebook“ Draugiem.lv can be interpreted as a provocation. On Election Day, a message from the former popular joint media platform welcomed „ Latvian comrades“ within the borders of the „Russian World“. The sender of the attack is yet to be identified. The arrest of activist Aleksandr Gaponenko in the Spring can be considered as a sort of political happening and a reason for the distribution of Fake news. The event created a lot of Russian propaganda and attempted to link with the educational reform in Latvia. There was probably some influence on the election due to the outcome of this action.
However, it can be said with relief that, apart from some political parties mentioned in the Kremlin propaganda media, there was no significant foreign intervention in the Latvian elections. Will it be the same way in Estonia? We will continue to keep a watch on the issue, there is still the call to Propastop’s readers, in that anything you consider as influencing the elections from behind our borders, please let us know.
Pictures: Latvian Seim building. Photo by Jorge Lascar / Flickr / CC.Screenshot from Draugiem.lv website.