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Belgium's Prime Minister Alexander De Croo is addressing the press at the European Council summit in Brussels, Belgium, on Dec. 15, 2023. (Jonathan Raa/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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The Russian propaganda network recently uncovered by Czech intelligence paid European and Belgian lawmakers to spread pro-Kremlin disinformation, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo said in Brussels on March 28.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala announced on March 27 that pro-Kremlin Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk and pro-Kremlin propagandist Artem Marchevskyi had been sanctioned for attempting to spread pro-Russian disinformation through a website called Voice of Europe.

The Polish Internal Security Agency (ABW) then announced that it had carried out searches and was interrogating suspects in connection to the network.

The ABW said the operation was connected to a previous investigation that found a Polish citizen, who was a member of the Polish and European parliaments, was suspected of working for the Russian secret services to spread disinformation in Europe.

De Croo did not name the MEPs but said that Czech and Belgian intelligence indicates that "Russia has approached MEPs" and paid them "to promote Russian propaganda here."

De Croo said this also happened "in our country, in the highest levels of our democratic institutions."

"Russia wants to destroy our democracy," de Croo said, condemning those who have become "an ally of Russia" and "an ally of a country that wants to destroy everything that has been built up here."

Belgian media reported that two Belgian MPs, Filip Dewinter and Filip Brusselmans, gave an interview with Voice of Europe in September 2023. Both represent Vlaams Belang, a right-wing populist party.

European Parliament deputy spokesperson Delphine Colard told Politico that the Parliament is "looking into the findings."

Earlier in March, Latvia's State Security Service (VDD) began investigating Tatjana Zdanoka, a Latvian member of the European Parliament accused of spying for Russia.

A collaborative media investigation published by The Insider in January alleged that Zdanoka, who represented Latvia in the European Parliament from 2004-2018 and again from 2019 until the present, has been a Russian asset since at least 2015.

While a sitting member of the European Parliament, Zdanoka participated as an international observer in a sham referendum on Crimea's annexation by Russia in 2014.

She also was one of a small group of lawmakers who voted against the European Parliament's condemnation of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in March 2022.

Zelensky meets European parliamentary leaders to discuss assistance for Ukraine
President Volodymyr Zelensky held meetings with the European Parliament’s Renew Europe political group and the French National Assembly delegations on March 28, the Presidential Office reported.
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