Three days before Sunday’s parliamentary elections in Germany, the European Commission issued a statement accusing Russia of trying to interfere in European democratic processes. “Such actions are unacceptable as they are intended to threaten our unity and security, democratic values and principles, and the foundations of the functioning of our democracies” – states the European Commission.
This year, the German security services informed the Bundestag several times about cyberattacks by foreign intelligence services against German parliamentarians. These attacks were often aimed at politicians’ private and business e-mail addresses. Foreign services tried to use the resulting access to publish “personal and private information or fabricated fake messages” on their behalf, warned the German services. They suspect that the Russian hacker group “Ghostwriter” is behind the attacks that attempted to gain access to parliamentarians’ private accounts.
The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Friday that Russia’s cyber attacks and disinformation campaigns against EU member states met at Poland’s request with a strong response. On the same day, the European Commission issued a statement condemning Russia and calling for an end to malicious activities in cyberspace.
The European Commission urges Russia to stop hacking attacks
“EU Member States have observed malicious activities in cyberspace, collectively referred to as the Ghostwriter campaign, and tied them to the Russian state,” reads the European Commission’s declaration on Friday.
“Such actions are unacceptable as they are intended to jeopardize our unity and security, democratic values and principles, and the foundations of our democracies,” stressed the Commission in a statement issued three days before the parliamentary elections in Germany. On Sunday, Germany will decide who will take up the chancellor’s office after the outgoing Angela Merkel, who held this position for 16 years.
As stated by the European Commission, the attacks have been targeted at “many parliamentarians, government representatives, politicians, as well as representatives of the press and civil society in the EU, by hacking into their computer systems and private accounts, and by data theft”. “These actions run counter to the standards of responsible state behavior in cyberspace adopted by all UN member states and are intended to undermine our democratic institutions and processes, including through disinformation and information manipulation,” the Commission said.
“The European Union and its Member States strongly condemn these malicious activities in cyberspace, which everyone involved must immediately put an end to it,” the statement said. Finally, the European Commission called on the Russian Federation to “adhere to the principles of responsible state behavior in cyberspace.”
Statement of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs
On the website of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a statement was published in connection with the EU declaration on threats in cyberspace for EU democratic processes. As the ministry explained, the harmful actions of the Russian Federation, to which the EC’s statement refers, have been going on for several years and are more widely known as the Ghostwriter campaign.
“The target of these attacks are parliamentarians, representatives of central and local governments, politicians or representatives of non-governmental organizations and the media, as well as private citizens. The aim of the campaign is to undermine trust in democratic procedures and institutions, polarize and antagonize various political and social groups, as well as divide states member states of the EU “- we read in the press release of the Ministry of Diplomacy.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Russia’s attacks are directed against Poland and other EU countries, and “the responsibility for running this campaign is assigned primarily to Russian secret services, although there may be more actors and performers (also from outside the Russian Federation, but cooperating with it).”
The ministry emphasized that in June Poland asked the EU to use the EU cyber diplomacy tools, a similar request was submitted by Germany at the beginning of September. “The result of these activities is the EU Declaration published today” – emphasizes the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Main photo source: YURI KOCHETKOV / PAP / EPA