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?

Related news article.

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    The question sounds like a rhetrorical one. Was it intended as such? I mean, clearly the "fake news" here is Theresa May's accusation itself, deliberately timed with another obvious fake about Russian involvement in Catalonian matters. Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 10:31
  • 1
    @AnT That wasn't the intention. How does the question sound rhetorical to you, exactly?
    – Cthulhu
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 10:54
  • "How would this benefit them (Russia) in any way?" Very simple. Influencing other nations during election campaigns so that a party is elected that is more favorable towards the own nation is always favorable. That is, unless it all comes out. Is that not enough potential benefit for you? Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 12:25

2 Answers 2


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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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    As a more general principle: A country dealing with internal problems won't have the bandwidth to address external problems. If you can keep them busy arguing in the house, they won't pay as much attention to what you're doing in the garden. Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 14:45
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    @RogerLipscombe better yet, they won't notice you breaking in the front door and swiping all their furniture while they are all busy arguing in the dining room.
    – user64742
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 16:34
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    @RogerLipscombe, Russia themselves is a counterexample, though. Having internal problems does not necessarily mean that government won't try to address external problems. Sometimes latter even help solve former.
    – rus9384
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 18:35
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    @Tiercelet Theresa May is not pro-Brexit, but she is doing the job assigned by the vote.
    – Federico
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 21:03
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    @RogerLipscombe Especially if what you are doing in the garden is invading Ukraine and Georgia and (soon?) Estonia.
    – kingledion
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 13:53

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.

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    you seem to imply that "researching the working or funding of dishonest journalism" is not important. you base this statement on what, exactly?
    – Federico
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 12:33
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    And why would you assume that? Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 19:47
  • So you're saying that the Russian Government is acting like a random internet troll?
    – T. Sar
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 17:05
  • I read that as "Focus on the important issues, not waste time researching the working of an opponent who is attacking the foundations on which you are building".
    – Max Murphy
    Commented Aug 8, 2021 at 11:19

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