Intel Briefing |
Decoding Disinformation: The Spanish Election Information Operation Targeting Russian-Speakers |
Sector: Government | Audience Role: Security Leadership |
The recent years have seen an increase in information operations aimed at interfering with the election processes in Europe. These operations are designed to spread disinformation and manipulate public opinion to influence the outcome of elections. While these campaigns tend to exploit the widest demographics to maximize impact, some threat actors are willing to dedicate resources to reach niche populations.
In this article, we provide an overview of a recent campaign that targeted the Russian-speaking population in Spain.
In truth, the focus on the Russian-speaking population in Spain likely had a limited effect on the overall general election result. The population of Russian citizens in Spain was around 80,000 people in 2021, and over 100,000 short-term visas were issued in 2022. This number is low compared to the total election turnout of over 24 million and doesn’t take into account the fact that the majority of Russian-speaking residents were not able to vote.
On 22 July, a day before Spanish General Elections were held, the association of Free Russians in Spain announced through its Twitter account that it received reports from Russians living in Spain about Telegram messages discouraging them from taking part in elections due to coming terrorist attack.
The messages contained a link to the alleged website of the Community of Madrid with information about terrorist organization ETA planning a series of attacks. The message encouraged recipients to skip the elections to avoid risk to their lives.