Exclusive Riz Khan Show: ‘Russia fears electoral interference from West,’ Putin adviser says

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With just days to go until the Russian Presidential elections, an advisor to Vladimir Putin tells Al Arabiya English’s Riz Khan that the Kremlin fears hackers from the West may target the polls.

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Russia has previously been accused of using misinformation and fake news to interfere in European and US Presidential elections. However, Sergey Markov says the introduction of online voting in Moscow could open the door to a new level of electoral abuse at home.

“The authorities are concerned that this digital voting can be under the cyber attack of hackers led by the United States and British intelligence service community. So there are a lot of concerns,” Markov told Khan in an exclusive interview.

He also mentioned some Communist party members, which he says are the “main opposition party to Vladimir Putin,” don’t believe in digital voting and, “exactly like Donald Trump supporters, have decided to vote only by hand, coming to the polling station.”

A member of an electoral commission holds a mobile ballot box during the early voting in Russia's presidential election in the settlement of Dubovoe in the Belgorod Region, Russia March 11, 2024. (Reuters)
A member of an electoral commission holds a mobile ballot box during the early voting in Russia's presidential election in the settlement of Dubovoe in the Belgorod Region, Russia March 11, 2024. (Reuters)

Democracy in Russia

When questioned on whether Russia can be seen as a democracy when Putin has little opposition, Markov said, “Democracy in Russia is bigger” than in the US, where President Joe Biden won through “falsified elections.”

“Democracy is when the president is [one of the] guys that the majority of the nation sees as the leader of the nation. It’s exactly what’s happening in Russia,” he told Al Arabiya English. “That’s why we believe that democracy in Russia is bigger than, for example, the United States, where Joe Biden is president because of falsified elections and there are no falsified elections in Russia because Vladimir Putin is too predominant.”

‘Navalny killed himself’ as a politician

People lay flowers at the grave of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny following his funeral at the Borisovskoye cemetery in Moscow, Russia, March 1, 2024. (Reuters)
People lay flowers at the grave of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny following his funeral at the Borisovskoye cemetery in Moscow, Russia, March 1, 2024. (Reuters)

When asked whether the death of opposition figure Alexei Navalny is one of the key factors affecting the upcoming elections, Markov said Navalny has no influence and “killed himself” as a politician 10 years ago when he opposed the people of Crimea “joining” Russia.

“I’ll say, Navalny, who is very well covered in international media, has no influence at all. I knew Alexei Navalny. He was very bright, a very modern style politician,” Markov told Al Arabiya English. “It’s really a pity that Alexei Navalny killed himself as a political leader 10 years ago when he denied [supporting] Crimea... which had been supported by more than 90 percent of the Russian population.”

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