(CNW) – , St Vincent and the Grenadines. Friday January 17, 2020 – (CIBS). New Democratic Party (NDP) senator Kay Bacchus-Baptiste has warned Vincentians to look out for possible election interference or influence from Russia as St Vincent and the Grenadines prepare for general elections this year.
Bacchus-Baptiste, one of this country’s most sought after defense lawyers and a former president of the SVG Human Rights Association, issued the warning Thursday night as she addressed a political meeting at Belair in the constituency of West St George – the constituency she is contesting in the coming general elections.
Senator Bacchus-Baptiste, a first-time political candidate, reminded the people of the allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.
“Many of you are aware what Russia has done with the American election. They have interfered with the election, issued misinformation. They took Hilary Clinton over the coals.
You know right now what is going on over the impeachment of Donald Trump. Why? Because he wanted to get dirt on who he considers his biggest opponent in the upcoming election – Biden – ably assisted by Russia,” Bacchus-Baptiste stated.
Following widespread allegations that Russian operatives had interfered in the 2016 US presidential election, a two-year investigation was conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller. The report on the investigation was released in March last year.
According to the report, Russia had interfered in the 2016 presidential election in “sweeping and systematic fashion.”
Four months later, in his Congressional testimony, Mueller stated that the Russians continued to interfere in U.S. elections “as we sit here”, and that “many more countries” had developed disinformation campaigns targeting U.S. elections, based partly on the Russian model.
In that same month of July the Senate Intelligence Committee released the first volume of a bipartisan report on Russian interference. That report included recommendations for securing the 2020 elections.
The second volume of the report noted, based on social-media data from October 2018, that “Russian disinformation efforts may be focused on gathering information and data points in support of an active measures campaign targeted at the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
Bacchus-Baptiste’s warning to Vincentians to keep their eyes on Russia came amid concerns over Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves’ official visit to Russia this week – a visit she views with suspicion.
Gonsalves left for Russia on Monday for what is reported to be a series of discussions with Russian government officials on mutually agreed issues and to participate in a forum on sustainable development another on climate change.
He is expected to hold talks with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov today, Friday, before leaving tomorrow, Saturday.
“I tell you, my people, it is strange that in the heart of winter we will have a visit to Russia. I am telling you, look out for misinformation. Lies that will seem truthful; look out for it for the NDP candidates. But, I tell them, we would be a step ahead of them,” Bacchus-Baptiste said.
Speaking about the legislation that governs the conduct of elections in St Vincent and the Grenadines as she warns of possible cyber attacks and propaganda, the opposition NDP senator said: “There is a provision in the Representation of the People Act, Section 51(3). We employed it already. If you tell lies before or during an election for the purpose of affecting the return of the election – meaning that you tell lies on the candidate so they won’t be elected, the law says that is an election offence and if you are convicted you will be disqualified from having a seat in parliament for five years.
“So, I am saying look out for the misinformation, look out for the lies. And, anytime you hear them record them. Record them and let us know because we will take action,” she urged party supporters.
Hyping the supporters, Bacchus-Baptiste said: “We are not going to sit back and allow Russia to interfere with our election. Will you accept that?”
“No! No way!” the crowd replied.
“I, in my heart, am convinced that there is something afoul and amiss with this Russian connection.
And, you see, they have their reasons why they want to keep certain persons in power. And we will not stand by. Keep your eye and your ears open. Don’t believe when you see what is appearing like emails with persons saying this or that. Look out for it and let’s counter it. We will not let them succeed. We have exposed how they stole the election over the last few years by illegal ballots,” Bacchus-Baptiste said.