SPONSORED:

Lawmakers urge EU to sanction Putin associate for election interference

Lawmakers urge EU to sanction Putin associate for election interference
© iStock

The bipartisan leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday strongly urged the European Union to sanction a close associate of Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinFor better or worse: Which way will US-Saudi relations go under Biden? How to rethink Russia sanctions Tucker Carlson bashes CNN, claims it's 'more destructive' than QAnon MORE over what they say are ongoing efforts to interfere in U.S. elections.

In a letter to Stavros Lambrinidis, the EU's ambassador to the U.S., Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelProgressives target Manchin, Sinema with new PAC State Department sets up new bureau for cybersecurity and emerging technologies How Congress dismissed women's empowerment MORE (D-N.Y.), ranking member Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulOvernight Defense: Biden sends message with Syria airstrike | US intel points to Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi killing | Pentagon launches civilian-led sexual assault commission Lawmakers line up behind potential cyber breach notification legislation Biden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers MORE (R-Texas), and almost a dozen other committee members pressed for the EU to impose sanctions on Yevgeniy Prigozhin.

Prigozhin, who is known as “Putin’s chef” due to the Kremlin’s use of his catering service for official functions, was indicted by former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE for his efforts to interfere in the 2016 elections. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Prigozhin is the leader and main source of funding behind Russia’s Internet Research Agency, the troll farm that spread misinformation designed to favor the campaign of President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to hold virtual bilateral meeting with Mexican president More than 300 charged in connection to Capitol riot Trump Jr.: There are 'plenty' of GOP incumbents who should be challenged MORE in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. elections. The Internet Research Agency was also indicted by Mueller. 

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

“We must thwart his malign global activities done at Putin’s behest and ongoing efforts to interfere in the domestic politics of democracies on both sides of the Atlantic,” the House members wrote of Prigozhin. “By working together and coordinating our sanctions policies against common adversaries, we can present a united front that stands for our shared values and deters further Russian attempts to subvert Western democracy.”

Engel described Prigozhin in a separate statement as an “enemy of democracy,” and called for both Prigozhin and the Russian government to be “held accountable” for election meddling. 

Other members who signed on to the letter included Reps. Bill KeatingWilliam (Bill) Richard KeatingOvernight Defense: Trump, Biden set to meet in final debate | Explicit Fort Bragg tweets were sent by account administrator | China threatens retaliation over Taiwan arms sale Overnight Defense: National Guard chief negative in third coronavirus test | Pentagon IG probing Navy's coronavirus response | Democrats blast use of Russia deterrence funds on border wall Democrats blast 'blatant misuse' of Russia deterrence funding on border wall MORE (D-Mass.) and Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerTrump Jr.: There are 'plenty' of GOP incumbents who should be challenged Trump endorses former aide against pro-impeachment Republican Taylor Swift celebrates House passage of Equality Act MORE (R-Ill.), the leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy and the Environment. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The letter was sent two weeks after a group of senators led by Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerHillicon Valley: Biden signs order on chips | Hearing on media misinformation | Facebook's deal with Australia | CIA nominee on SolarWinds House Rules release new text of COVID-19 relief bill Budowsky: Cruz goes to Cancun, AOC goes to Texas MORE (D-N.Y.) sent a similar request to Lambrinidis asking that the EU sanction Prigozhin. The senators also asked that the EU stand “united” with the U.S. against Russia's election interference efforts. 

Facebook estimated following the 2016 elections that almost 150 million Americans were likely exposed to content from the Internet Research Agency ahead of Election Day. Mueller described the group’s misinformation campaign across social media platforms in his report as “designed to provoke and amplify political and social discord in the United States.”

There are already signs that Russia-backed groups will seek to interfere in the 2020 elections as well, with Facebook and Twitter recently dismantling an interference campaign based out of Ghana and Nigeria.