The Trump administration announced sanctions Thursday against a Ukrainian lawmaker who met last year with President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and has pushed for a corruption investigation into the son of former Vice President Joe Biden.
The Treasury Department accused Andriy Derkach of waging a pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign “in an attempt to undermine the upcoming 2020 U.S. presidential election.”
The agency said Derkach “has been an active Russian agent for over a decade, maintaining close connections with the Russian Intelligence Services.”
The move puts Derkach on the U.S. government’s “Specially Designated Nationals” list, which blocks his access to any U.S.-based assets he might have and prevents American citizens from dealing with him.
The Treasury Department also announced sanctions against three Russian nationals—Artem Lifshits, Anton Andreyev, and Darya Aslanova—who are employees of the Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll farm accused of peddling disinformation during the 2016 U.S. election.
Derkach released tapes in May of phone calls in 2016 between Biden, then the U.S. vice president, and Petro Poroshenko, then president of Ukraine. He alleged that the tapes showed Biden pressured Poroshenko to shut down an investigation into Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy firm that had Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. as a board member.
Giuliani and other Trump allies have made similar allegations about the Bidens.
Giuliani, the former New York mayor, arranged interviews in early 2019 with former Ukrainian prosecutors who alleged that the elder Biden pressured Poroshenko to fire a prosecutor who was poised to investigate Burisma.
Burisma hired Hunter Biden in April 2014, just as his father, as vice president, was tapped by President Barack Obama to serve as chief liaison to Ukraine.
Joe Biden recalled in a speech in 2018 that he threatened to withhold $1 billion in U.S. loan assistance from Poroshenko if he did not fire Viktor Shokin, then Ukraine’s prosecutor general. But Biden has denied that the demand had anything to do with Burisma Holdings.
Derkach met with Giuliani, acting as Trump’s lawyer, on Dec. 5, 2019, according to the parliamentarian’s Facebook page.
Derkach, who posted photos of the meeting, said that he and Giuliani discussed creation of a group called Friends of Ukraine STOP Corruption.
“Giuliani’s participation in the creation of this group will be very useful to us,” Derkach wrote. “In particular, he can help with joining the group of international experts, analysts, journalists and all those who are able to fulfill the tasks of the group and benefit the strategic relations between Ukraine and the United States.”
The Treasury Department said that from at least late 2019 to the middle of this year,
Derkach waged a covert influence campaign centered on cultivating false and unsubstantiated narratives concerning U.S. officials in the upcoming 2020 Presidential Election, spurring corruption investigations in both Ukraine and the United States designed to culminate prior to election day.
Derkach’s unsubstantiated narratives were pushed in Western media through coverage of press conferences and other news events, including interviews and statements.
“Andrii Derkach and other Russian agents employ manipulation and deceit to attempt to influence elections in the United States and elsewhere around the world,” Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said in a written statement.
The Treasury Department also said that Derkach likely targeted “the U.S. voting populace, prominent U.S. persons, and members of the U.S. government” through American media platforms and “pro-Russian lobbyists” in the U.S.
Derkach paid a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm, Global Management Association Corp., $12,000 for consulting work from May 10 to Aug. 10, according to documents the firm filed with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has alleged that Derkach published information aimed at undermining Biden’s presidential campaign.
“We assess that Russia is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate former Vice President Biden and what it sees as an anti-Russia ‘establishment,’” William R. Evanina, director of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said Aug. 7 in a written statement.
In July 2017, Derkach called on Ukraine’s general prosecutor to open an investigation into allegations that the Ukrainian government colluded with the Democratic Party in the U.S. during the 2016 election. Derkach’s request was based on revelations in a January 2017 article in Politico that outlined a series of contacts between a Democratic National Committee consultant and the Ukrainian Embassy.
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