October 18, 2018 / 12:03 PM / a month ago

Ukraine sets up group to stop any attempt by Russia to influence elections

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine has set up a group to stop any attempt by Russia to influence next year’s elections, a state security body said on Thursday.

The National Council for Security and Defence, which is headed by President Petro Poroshenko, established the special group ahead of presidential elections in March and parliamentary elections next October.

Relations between Kiev and Moscow collapsed following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the outbreak of a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine that Moscow backed.

“The experience of the United States and Western European countries shows that the Kremlin will try to influence (elections) through the cybernetic and informational space on socio-political processes,” said Olexander Turchynov, secretary for the Council.

“There are legitimate reasons to assume that the Russian leadership will try at any cost to use the electoral process to implement the plans of hybrid aggression against our state, he said. Moscow denies carrying out cyber attacks.

Hackers infected three energy and transport companies in Ukraine and Poland with sophisticated new malware and may be planning destructive cyber attacks, said software security firm ESET this week.

The firm helped investigate a series of high-profile cyber attacks on Ukraine in recent years. A report say which country did the hacking but blamed it on a group that has been accused by Britain of having links to Russian military intelligence.

Investigators at ESET said the group responsible for a series of earlier attacks against the Ukrainian energy sector, which used malicious software known as BlackEnergy, had now developed and used a new malware suite called GreyEnergy.

Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg

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