The British government has summoned the Russian ambassador and sanctioned two people for what it said was a sustained but failed attempt to interfere in politics by Russian cyber spies.
A hacking group dubbed ‘Cold River’ by cybersecurity researchers, working on behalf of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), targeted British politicians, journalists, and non-profit groups over a period of several years, the foreign office said in a statement.
“I can confirm today that the Russian Federal Security Services, the FSB, is behind a sustained effort to interfere in our democratic processes,” junior foreign minister Leo Docherty said in a statement to lawmakers.
“They have been targeting high profile individuals and entities with a clear intent, using information they obtained to meddle in British politics.”
There was no immediate comment from Moscow, which routinely casts cyberespionage accusations as false smears by the West.
The group, which is also known as “Callisto” or “Star Blizzard”, was accused too ofbeing behind the leak of private emails belonging to former British spymaster Richard Dearlove in 2022.
In January this year, Reuters exclusively reported that Cold River had targeted three nuclear research laboratories in the United States.
That report, which drew upon internet records and research from five cybersecurity experts, revealed that much of the digital infrastructure used by Cold River was set up by a 36-year-old IT worker named Andrey Korinets, in the northern Russian city of Syktyvkar.
Reached by phone, Korinets, one of the two individuals to be sanctioned by Britain on Thursday, told Reuters he was unaware of any measures against him, or why such sanctions would have been initiated.