An article I saw on BBC News this morning was showing a clip where Theresa May accused Russia of creating fake news and photoshopped images during the United Kingdom general election last year. How would this benefit them (Russia) in any way?
The fact that an entity is not directly running in an election does not mean in any way that it might not see as favourable, and thus prefer, an outcome over the other.
Particularly it is mostly understood that a divided EU (starting with Brexit) is beneficial to the interests of Moscow:
- Crisis in the EU is a blessing for Moscow: Without the U.K. — one of the most vocal supporters of the EU’s sanctions regime against Russia — Russian officials say pressure on the Kremlin will be reduced, leading to significant foreign policy benefits.
- A weaker Europe is a weaker NATO: The disintegration of the EU could translate into a weakening of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, long regarded by Russia as a political and military threat.
This means that they might have seen the Brexit side as favourable to them, and thus decided to support it, overtly or less so.
Assuming the Russian government is being envious, competitive and egoist, not interested in absolute welfare, neither their welfare, nor the welfare of others, but only in competition... well anything that harms others is good for them.
In such case, it's not so much important who got the most votes. What is important is that their mandate is weakened by conspiracy theories, by fading trust in elections, fading trust in democracy itself. Instead of debating relevant issues, public focus is shifted to fringe scandals. Some ad hoc small parties may get some votes, even some constituencies, and creating viable ruling coalitions may become quite a problem for traditional parties in some countries. People may start believing that traditional democracy simply does not work. And democracy is like a monetary system or like pretty much everything: faith makes the difference.
And Theresa May falls into the trap. Of course, honest journalism is not the only journalism on the planet. Of course, we have tabloid journalism focusing on exaggerating minor or unfounded issues. Of course we have people sharing hoaxes. Her task is to do good politics and to address important issues, not to waste time researching the working or funding of dishonest journalism.