Tuesday, August 16, 2022

U.S. sanctions Ukraine officials over interference in 2020 election


The Trump administration on Monday slapped sanctions on seven Kremlin-linked individuals and four entities for attempting to interfere in the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

The U.S. Treasury Department described the targeted sanctions as the “inner circle” of Ukrainian lawmaker Andrii Derkach, who was sanctioned last year. Derkach has previously worked with Rudy Giuliani to dig up damaging information on President Donald Trump’s Democratic opponent, President-elect Joe Biden, and his son Hunter.

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“Since at least 2019, Derkach and his associates have leveraged U.S. media, U.S.-based social media platforms, and influential U.S. persons to spread misleading and unsubstantiated allegations that current and former U.S. officials engaged in corruption, money laundering, and unlawful political influence in Ukraine,” Treasury wrote in a statement.

Giuliani has acted as a personal lawyer for Trump, and his efforts to get Ukraine to launch an investigation into the Bidens led to Trump’s impeachment over a year ago after the president withheld military aid to Ukraine while asking for such a probe.

“Russian disinformation campaigns targeting American citizens are a threat to our democracy,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wrote in a statement Monday without naming Biden or Trump. “The United States will continue to aggressively defend the integrity of our election systems and processes.”

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In September, Treasury imposed sanctions on Derkach, describing him as an “active Russian agent for over a decade” with close connections to Russian intelligence services.

“From at least late 2019 through mid-2020, Derkach waged a covert influence campaign centered on cultivating false and unsubstantiated narratives concerning U.S. officials in the upcoming 2020 presidential election,” Treasury wrote in a statement at the time.

Treasury sanctioned three former Ukrainian government officials, Konstantin Kulyk, Oleksandr Onyshchenko and Andriy Telizhenko, as well as Oleksandr Dubinsky, who is a current member of the Ukrainian parliament for publicly affiliating themselves with Derkach.

Kulyk, a former prosecutor for the Ukrainian government, worked with Derkach to spread false accusations of international corruption, according to Treasury.

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Onyshchenko provided Derkach with edited audio recordings of purported conversations between former Ukrainian and U.S. officials. The recordings were later released by Derkach in order to discredit U.S. officials and the integrity of U.S. elections.

Telizhenko, a former Ukrainian diplomat, orchestrated meetings between Derkach and U.S. individuals to discuss how to propagate false claims.

Dubinsky, who serves alongside Derkach in Ukraine’s parliament, has previously perpetuated “false narratives” that were designed to “denigrate U.S. presidential candidates and their families,” according to Treasury.

Treasury also sanctioned NabuLeaks, Era-Media TOV, Only News and Skeptik TOV, which were described as “media front companies in Ukraine that push false narratives at Derkach’s behest.”

Treasury also took aim at Petro Zhuravel, Dmytro Kovalchuk and Anton Simonenk, who worked for Derkach.


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