US Treasury Sanctions Alleged Russian Disinformation Network
By VOA News January 11, 2021
The U.S. Department of the Treasury announced sanctions Monday against associates and entities affiliated with Ukrainian politician Andrii Derkach, who they say operates a Russian-backed foreign influence network that attempted to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
The individuals sanctioned are former Ukrainian government officials Konstantin Kulyk, Oleksandr Onyshchenko, Andriy Telizhenko, and current Ukrainian member of Parliament Oleksandr Dubinsky.
The Treasury Department said Kulyk "formed an alliance with Derkach to spread false accusations of international corruption."
It added that Onyshchenko, who is a fugitive from Ukrainian justice on corruption charges, "provided edited audiotape copies of purported audio recordings of conversations between former Ukrainian and U.S. officials, which Derkach released between May and July 2020 to discredit U.S. officials and influence the U.S. elections."
The Treasury said Telizhenko arranged meetings between unnamed "U.S. persons" and Derkach to "propagate false claims concerning corruption in Ukraine."
Dubinsky joined Derkach in press conferences "designed to perpetuate these and other false narratives and denigrate U.S. presidential candidates and their families," Treasury said, a reference to President-elect Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Hunter Biden joined the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma in 2014, sparking concerns about the perceptions of a conflict of interest, given the elder Biden was deeply involved in U.S. policy toward Ukraine. He was reportedly paid $50,000 or more a month for his position.
Last month, the younger Biden revealed he is under federal investigation for "potential criminal violations of tax and money laundering laws," The New York Times reported.
"I take this matter very seriously, but I am confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately, including with the benefit of professional tax advisors," he said in a statement.
The Treasury Department on Monday also sanctioned three other individuals in Derkach's circle, including Petro Zhuravel, Dmytro Kovalchuk and Anton Simonenko. Additionally, several media companies that Treasury called "front companies" associated with Derkach were also sanctioned.
In September, the United States sanctioned Derkach, a Ukrainian member of parliament allegedly tied to Russian intelligence, and three other Russian-based operatives connected to the Internet Research Agency troll farm based in St. Petersburg.
The U.S. sanctions block U.S. financial and property interests of the four individuals, and Americans are prohibited from conducting any business transactions with them.
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