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Prague sanctions Medvedchuk over 'influence operations' in Czechia, EU

by Martin Fornusek and The Kyiv Independent news desk March 27, 2024 9:03 PM 2 min read
Former Ukrainian lawmaker Viktor Medvedchuk, who later left for Russia as part of a prisoner swap, is seen in Kyiv’s Appeal Court during a hearing on May 21, 2021, that ought to decide on his house arrest under treason suspicion. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images)
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Czechia imposed new sanctions against one legal entity and two individuals, including pro-Kremlin oligarch and former Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said on March 27, the news outlet Novinky.cz reported.

Medvedchuk, who was long thought to be Russian President Vladimir Putin's right-hand man in Ukraine, was charged with high treason and placed under house arrest in 2021, only to flee as Russia launched its full-scale invasion. He was subsequently re-arrested in April 2022. In September of the same year, he was handed over to Russia as part of a prisoner exchange.

Fiala said that Medvedchuk and another sanction individual, pro-Kremlin propagandist Artem Marchevskyi, "oversaw several influence operations and networks from the Russian Federation" and sought to influence social discourse in Czechia through the Voice of Europe website, which was also placed on the sanctions list.

Marchevskyi led the website under Medvedchuk's instructions, using it to spread anti-Ukrainian narratives, the Czech Foreign Ministry said.

Czechia's counter-intelligence agency (BIS), which reportedly uncovered the operations, said it had exposed the "way in which Russia exerts influence in EU countries and seeks to influence political processes in our countries."

"With this step, we decided to move against a pro-Russian network that attempted to carry out an influence operation on our territory, which would have a serious impact on Czechia's security," Fiala told journalists.

The prime minister said that while the operations were based in Czechia, their activities focused mainly on targets abroad, such as the European Parliament.

Excluding the new additions, Czechia has sanctioned six individuals in connection with Moscow's aggression against Ukraine, including Moscow Patriarch Kirill and businessman Vladimir Yevtushenkov.

Politico: Russia uses Serbian agent to infiltrate EU institutions, intelligence says
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has been using a Serbian national named Novica Antic to infiltrate EU institutions and spread pro-Kremlin views, Politico reported on March 5, citing Western intelligence briefs they had reviewed.
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