Senators press EU to sanction Putin associate for election meddling

Senators press EU to sanction Putin associate for election meddling
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A group of Democrats led by Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerJoe Biden can't lead the charge from his home in Delaware Texas man arrested for allegedly threatening Democrats over coronavirus bill Pelosi not invited by Trump to White House coronavirus relief bill's signing MORE (D-N.Y.) on Thursday urged the European Union (EU) to sanction a top close associate of Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinMoscow placed under strict lockdown to stem coronavirus spread Trump says he'll speak with Putin on Monday The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Airbnb - Senate overcomes hurdles, passes massive coronavirus bill MORE for meddling in U.S. elections. 

The lawmakers sent a letter to Stavros Lambrinidis, the head of the Delegation of the EU to the U.S., urging the EU to “take steps to substantially increase economic pressure” on Yevgeny Prigozhin for his role in interfering in the 2016 and upcoming 2020 elections. 

Prigozhin, the leader and main source of funding behind Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA), is known as Putin’s chef because his catering group has participated in official dinners Putin has hosted for foreign dignitaries.  

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Both Prigozhin and the IRA were indicted by former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE for spreading misinformation designed to benefit the campaign of now President TrumpDonald John TrumpCuomo grilled by brother about running for president: 'No. no' Maxine Waters unleashes over Trump COVID-19 response: 'Stop congratulating yourself! You're a failure' Meadows resigns from Congress, heads to White House MORE in the run-up to the 2016 elections. 

Prigozhin has also been linked to mercenary organization The Wagner Group, which was sanctioned by the U.S. due to its support of Russian forces in Ukraine. 

“We know that Mr Prigozhin and his associated firms remain actively engaged in spreading malign influence,” the senators wrote. “Given the broad reach and expanding nature of Prigozhin and the Wagner Group’s malign activities abroad, we urge the European Union to take steps to constrain their ability to operate and to deter the Kremlin from engaging in these activities.”

The top Democrats on the Senate Armed Services, Banking, Foreign Relations, and Intelligence Committees —Sens. Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedOvernight Defense: Stimulus bill has .5B for Pentagon | Money would be blocked from border wall | Esper orders 60-day freeze for overseas troop movements Senate panel switches to 'paper hearings' amid coronavirus pandemic Rand Paul's coronavirus diagnosis sends shockwaves through Senate MORE (R.I.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSenator Tom Coburn's government oversight legacy Democratic senators ask Pompeo to provide coronavirus aid to Palestinian territories Democrats eye additional relief checks for coronavirus MORE (Ohio), Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezHillicon Valley: Facebook launches portal for coronavirus information | EU sees spike in Russian misinformation on outbreak | Senate Dem bill would encourage mail-in voting | Lawmakers question safety of Google virus website Democratic senators press Google over privacy of coronavirus screening site Menendez calls for 'Marie Yovanovitch bill' to protect foreign service employees MORE (N.J.), and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHillicon Valley: Coronavirus deal includes funds for mail-in voting | Twitter pulled into fight over virus disinformation | State AGs target price gouging | Apple to donate 10M masks Senator sounds alarm on cyber threats to internet connectivity during coronavirus crisis Senator calls for cybersecurity review at health agencies after hacking incident MORE (Va.) respectively — also signed on to the letter. 

The senators called on the EU to stand “united” with the U.S. in taking measures to make life more difficult for Prigozhin. 

“The effectiveness of the U.S. sanctions regime is only as strong as our multilateral alliances,” the senators wrote. “Our ability to punish, deter, and put pressure on Prigozhin and respond forcefully to his malign behavior would be significantly enhanced by the active participation of the E.U.”

Following the 2016 elections, Facebook announced that almost 150 million American users had likely been exposed to Russian misinformation from the IRA around the elections. A recent study from New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice found evidence that the IRA began attempts to interfere in the 2020 elections last year.