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    UK Lawmakers Claim Alleged Russian Meddling Evidence Might Be 'Tip of Iceberg'

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    LONDON (Sputnik) - The chair of the UK Parliament's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee claimed in a statement accompanying the panel's report issued Sunday that the evidence from Facebook on alleged Russian meddling might be the "tip of the iceberg".

    In the report, the committee claims it heard evidence of a campaign to influence UK election and referenda, allegedly orchestrated by the Russian government. The evidence from Facebook given to the committee suggested that Russia had used "sophisticated targeting techniques" in its online campaign.

    "I believe what we have discovered so far [regarding Russia] is the tip of the iceberg," Damian Collins said in a statement.

    According to the lawmaker, Facebook users did not know that they were seeing Russia-sponsored ads, which looked as if they were produced in their own country. Collins stressed the need for a thorough research of how ads and fake accounts are used on social networks.

    The DCMS Committee also said in its report that the UK government should work with other countries to counter the alleged Russian interference. The report mentioned "a co-ordinated, long-standing campaign by the Russian Government to influence UK elections and referenda," citing a 89up communications agency's research.

    In February, Simon Milner, a Facebook executive, said in a letter to Collins that the Facebook investigation team "found no additional coordinated Russian-linked accounts or Pages delivering ads to the UK regarding the EU Referendum during the relevant period, beyond the minimal activity we previously disclosed."

    In early February, UK-based communications agency 89up, which, according to its website, specialises in running PR campaigns for NGOs, dealing with public affairs and producing editorial content, accused in its report Russian media, namely RT and Sputnik, of publishing media articles on the EU referendum in the United Kingdom with a strong anti-EU sentiment. After the report's release, Twitter, Facebook and Google have been requested to find out whether any foreign interference took place during the Brexit referendum.

    Russian officials have repeatedly stressed that Moscow does not meddle in other countries' affairs and pointed out that the allegations of Russia tampering with elections in other countries had been unsubstantiated.

    DCMS Committee also claimed in the report that US businessman Arron Banks, one of the largest donors to the Leave campaign ahead of the Brexit referendum, appears to have wanted to hide the extent of his contacts with Russian officials.

    London is currently in Brexit negotiations with the European Union, which began last year and are due to be finished by the end of March 2019, after the country voted to leave in 23 June 2016 referendum. The EU-UK negotiations reached a deadlock recently, after the UK government agreed on the withdrawal plan earlier in July that envisions the creation of a free trade area, which, according to the European Union, contradicts the EU guidelines on the integrity of the single market.

    READ MORE: Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Over 300,000 Britons Demand 2nd Brexit Referendum

    Meanwhile, more UK politicians have started to signal their willingness to support a 'Final Say' referendum on Britain's withdrawal from the EU, with the no-deal Brexit scenario looming. Previously this week, the Independent created a petition to pressure the UK government to holding a second Brexit referendum, which, according to the newspaper, had high-ranking officials from all the major parties among the supporters.

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