As the clock ticks down to elections Sunday, Germany’s cyber defense nervously hopes it’ll be third time lucky after Russia was accused of meddling in the US and French votes. But even if Berlin avoids a last-minute bombshell of leaks or online sabotage, it sees Moscow’s hand in fanning fears of Muslim migrants that are driving the rise of the hard-right.
Forecasters say Chancellor Angela Merkel is almost certain to win. But she will also face, for the first time in German post-war history, a right-wing populist and anti-immigration party will have its own group on the opposition benches. The Alternative for Germany (AfD)—which calls Merkel a “traitor” for her 2015 welcome to refugees—has been promoted especially in internet echo chambers by far-right trolls and ultra-nationalists.
While mainstream media have treated the AfD with distaste, the most positive coverage has appeared in Kremlin-funded media such as RT and Sputnik, which have also heavily focussed on migrant crime.
The London School of Economics (LSE) found that “official Russian media and unofficial pro-Russian trolls offer constant and repetitive support for the AfD and its anti-immigrant message,” wrote journalist Anne Applebaum, a participant in the monitoring project.
The AfD, meanwhile, has been actively courting the 2.5 million-strong Russian-German community with neighbourhood stands, flyer campaigns and a Russian-language YouTube channel.
Full Article: Germany on guard against election hacks, fake news.