Security specialists from 27 countries including Britain and the US will meet in Prague in what is being billed as the most concerted attempt yet to counter alleged Kremlin destabilisation measures aimed at undermining western elections. The Czech interior ministry is hosting the five-day summit staged by Stratcom – Nato’s strategic communications arm – in an effort to persuade governments and the European Union to strengthen electoral processes amid rising concern over suspected interference by the Russian government under Vladimir Putin. The event comes at a time of heightened sensitivity following Donald Trump’s sacking last week of the FBI director, James Comey, who had been overseeing an investigation into alleged links between Russia and Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Elections are approaching in several European countries including Britain next month, Germany in September and the Czech Republic, which faces a parliamentary poll in October and a presidential election a few months later. Officials have voiced fears about the possibility of Russian-backed disruption.
“Western countries are taking this more seriously now because they can see it affects themselves and not just Ukraine and the Baltic states,” said Jakub Janda, of the Prague-based European Values thinktank, which is organising the conference along with other bodies including the British embassy.
“From being a mainly foreign policy issue, it has become an internal security topic.”