Golovchenko on radio P1: Russian interference in coming Danish general election? – University of Copenhagen

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26 July 2018

Golovchenko on radio P1: Russian interference in coming Danish general election?

P1 Debat: Kommer Russerne?

On 26 July 2018, Ph.D. Yevgeniy Golovchenko was interviewed as part of the national radio programme “P1 Debat” on potential Russian interference in the general election to come in Denmark.

Referring to the American presidential election in 2016, Golovchenko explained how Russia can interfere in other countries’ elections by creating fake social media profiles. This can be done through a least two different strategies. First, by supporting a candidate whose opinions and interests overlap with the ones of Kremlin. Second, by simultaneously supporting both the extreme right and the extreme left wing parties in order to create chaos.

Asked about the potential impact of such strategies, Golovchenko underlined that it is extremely difficult to change the vote of anyone, e.g. moving a voter from supporting a right to a left wing candidate. It is much easier however, to influence people’s opinion on issues that they do not already have a strong political opinion on. Likewise, it is easier to influence the political agenda in general. Nevertheless, we have to keep in mind that it is extremely difficult to influence specifically who we vote for which is why we should not exaggerate the effectiveness of potential information campaigns.

We need to prepare for potential disinformation campaigns and citizens should be aware that some states might have an interest in interfering in the election. However, the worst thing we can do is to start a “Kremlin hunt” where ordinary citizens start searching for Russian trolls, bots and fake profiles. Such situation of mistrust among citizens and authorities would only be the exact goal of a disinformation campaign.

Summing up, Golovchenko highlighted: Do be aware of disinformation, but do not exaggerate it.

Listen to the interview (in Danish) here.