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Belgium, Czechia ask EU to step in against Russia's elections interference

by Martin Fornusek April 17, 2024 10:00 PM 2 min read
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala (L) welcomes Belgium's Prime Minister Alexander De Croo upon arrival at the Prague Castle where the European Summit will take place in Prague, Czechia, on Oct. 6, 2022. (Joe Klamar / AFP via Getty Images)
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The governments of Belgium and Czechia sent a letter to other EU leaders on April 17 calling for new restrictive measures against Russia over its disinformation activities within the European bloc.

Both countries shared the results of their investigation into a Russian disinformation and influence network that was first uncovered by Czech security services in March.

Prague said that pro-Russian actors, including former Ukrainian lawmaker Viktor Medvedchuk, were spreading pro-Kremlin narratives and paying off Moscow-friendly European politicians ahead of the elections for the European Parliament through the Voice of Europe website.

Probes into Russian influence have also been underway in Belgium.

The Belgian intelligence confirmed "the existence of a pro-Russian interference network with activities in Belgium," read the letter signed by Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and his Czech counterpart, Petr Fiala.

"The network's activities are aimed, among other things, at promoting cooperation between pro-Russian politicians within the European Parliament, helping to elect more pro-Russian candidates to the Parliament, and appointing people active within this network as employees of (newly elected) MEPs."

The activities involved cash handovers, mainly in Czechia, according to the statement.

The two EU members said they planned to raise the issue at the European Council on April 17-18 and called for a "new EU restrictive measure regime aimed to counter Russian malign activities."

Fiala and De Croo also suggested expanding the mandates of the European Public Prosecutor's Office and the European Anti-Fraud Office to prosecute the interference.

How Czechia busted Russian propaganda network targeting European elections
The Czech government announced on March 27 that it had uncovered a Moscow-financed propaganda network that sought to influence European politics and turn public opinion against aiding Ukraine. Prague named Viktor Medvedchuk, a Kremlin-linked former Ukrainian oligarch, and Artem Marchevskyi, a media…
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