Senators press EU to sanction Putin associate for election meddling

Senators press EU to sanction Putin associate for election meddling
© Getty Images

A group of Democrats led by Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerIn the next relief package Congress must fund universal COVID testing Ocasio-Cortez's 2nd grade teacher tells her 'you've got this' ahead of DNC speech New poll shows Markey with wide lead over Kennedy in Massachusetts MORE (D-N.Y.) on Thursday urged the European Union (EU) to sanction a top close associate of Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinRussia offered help with coronavirus vaccine, US declined: report Bill Gates: 'We'd be lucky' to have coronavirus vaccine before end of 2020 Russia says coronavirus vaccine will be ready for doctors in two weeks 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.  


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 TrumpUSPS warns Pennsylvania mail-in ballots may not be delivered in time to be counted Michael Cohen book accuses Trump of corruption, fraud Trump requests mail-in ballot for Florida congressional primary 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 ReedDemocrats ramp up warnings on Russian election meddling Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Overnight Defense: Embattled Pentagon policy nominee withdraws, gets appointment to deputy policy job | Marines, sailor killed in California training accident identified | Governors call for extension of funding for Guard's coronavirus response MORE (R.I.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownWhat Trump's orders will and won't do for payroll taxes, unemployment benefits Overnight Defense: Guardsman to testify Lafayette Square clearing was 'unprovoked escalation' | Dems push for controversial Pentagon nominee to withdraw | Watchdog says Pentagon not considering climate change risks to contractors Democrats urge controversial Pentagon policy nominee to withdraw MORE (Ohio), Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSenators ask for removal of tariffs on EU food, wine, spirits: report VOA visa decision could hobble Venezuela coverage Bottom line MORE (N.J.), and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHillicon Valley: 'Fortnite' owner sues Apple after game is removed from App Store | Federal agencies seize, dismantle cryptocurrency campaigns of major terrorist organizations Election security advocates see strong ally in Harris Democrats ramp up warnings on Russian election meddling 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.