Sep 10, 2020 - Politics & Policy

U.S. sanctions Ukrainian lawmaker for election interference targeting Biden


Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The U.S. Treasury on Thursday added Ukrainian lawmaker Andrii Derkach to its "Specially Designated Nationals" list for alleged efforts to interfere in the U.S. presidential election, including by promoting "false and unsubstantiated" allegations targeting Joe Biden.

The big picture: Derkach has been "an active Russian agent for over a decade," maintaining close ties to Russian intelligence services, according to a statement by the Treasury. The designation will freeze Derkach's assets in the U.S.

  • The Treasury also designated three Russian nationals — Artem Lifshits, Anton Andreyev and Darya Aslanova — for their work for the Internet Research Agency, which was indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller for its social media disinformation operations.

Details: From at least late last year until mid-2020, Derkach launched a secret influence campaign using "false and unsubstantiated" narratives to spur corruption investigations in the U.S. and Ukraine, according to the news release.

  • Between May and July, Derkash released edited audio tapes and other unsubstantiated claims to discredit U.S. officials.
  • He "almost certainly targeted the U.S. voting populace, prominent U.S. persons, and members of the U.S. government," according to the Treasury.

Between the lines: Derkach told Politico in July that he had sent Biden-related materials to U.S. lawmakers. He had previously met with President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani as part of Giuliani's efforts to dig up dirt on Biden in Ukraine.

The backdrop: The Office of the Director of National Intelligence assessed last month that "Russia is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate former Vice President Biden," citing Derkach's release of tapes of Biden's conversations with former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko as an example.

What they're saying: "Andrii Derkach and other Russian agents employ manipulation and deceit to attempt to influence elections in the United States and elsewhere around the world,” Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement.

  • “The United States will continue to use all the tools at its disposal to counter these Russian disinformation campaigns and uphold the integrity of our election system.”
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