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Canadian PM warns of Russian interference in upcoming parliamentary elections

Russian President Vladimir Putin with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Paris Peace Forum in 2018. (Kremlin/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has warned of the risk of interference by Russia and other foreign players in the country’s upcoming parliamentary elections.

“We’ve seen over the past number of years an increase in the interference or the implication of foreign actors in democratic processes,” Trudeau told a Toronto news conference on April 5.

“We saw very clearly that countries like Russia are behind a lot of the divisive campaigns; a lot of the divisive social media, you know, spreads [and has] turned our politics even more divisive and more anger-filled than they have been in the past,” he said.

He added that Karina Gould, Canada’s minister of democratic institutions, was creating “significant ways” to protect the elections and make sure the vote would be “decided by Canadians.”

U.S. intelligence agencies and European Union countries have accused Russia of interfering in their elections in recent years, including the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. Moscow has denied the accusations.

Trudeau’s remarks echo those made earlier in the day by Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, who said she was “very concerned” Russia would interfere in the election.

“Our judgment is that interference is very likely, and we think there have probably already been efforts by malign foreign actors to disrupt our democracy,” she said on the sidelines of a Group of Seven (G7) foreign ministers meeting in France.

Canada’s parliamentary elections are scheduled for October 21.