U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Ukrainians Linked to Giuliani for Election Disinformation

By | January 12, 2021
U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Ukrainians Linked to Giuliani for Election Disinformation

U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Ukrainians Linked to Giuliani for Election Disinformation

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration imposed sanctions on Monday in opposition to seven Ukrainians — together with two who assisted President Trump’s private lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani — for being a part of what it referred to as “a Russia-linked overseas affect community” that unfold “fraudulent and unsubstantiated allegations” about President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. throughout the 2020 marketing campaign.

Mr. Giuliani relied on two of the Ukrainians who have been penalized — Andrii Telizhenko and Kostiantyn H. Kulyk — as he sought to assemble damaging info and drive authorities investigations into Mr. Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, associated to Ukraine. That effort, which had the president’s backing, led to Mr. Trump’s impeachment in 2019 by the Home of Representatives.

The sanctions introduced on Monday stemmed from the Ukrainians’ work with Andriy Derkach, a member of the Ukrainian Parliament, who was the goal of sanctions by the Treasury Division final yr and was accused of being a Russian agent and spreading disinformation about Mr. Biden. Mr. Derkach had met with Mr. Giuliani in 2019.

The Ukrainians penalized on Monday have been accused in a press release launched by the Treasury Division of serving to Mr. Derkach “unfold deceptive and unsubstantiated allegations that present and former U.S. officers engaged in corruption, cash laundering and illegal political affect in Ukraine.”

The targets of the sanctions additionally included 4 media corporations that the Treasury Division stated have been affiliated with Mr. Derkach and have been concerned in his efforts to unfold disinformation.

The sanctions are the most recent in a collection of steps taken by the Treasury Division over the previous few years to punish folks and teams that it accused of involvement in Russia-linked election interference, at the same time as Mr. Trump, an supposed beneficiary of the interference, has continued to downplay Russia’s position.

“Russian disinformation campaigns concentrating on Americans are a menace to our democracy,” Steven T. Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, stated within the assertion. “The USA will proceed to aggressively defend the integrity of our election methods and processes.”

Mr. Kulyk had labored within the workplace of Ukraine’s nationwide prosecutor, the place he helped lead an investigation right into a Ukrainian oligarch who owned a fuel firm that had paid Hunter Biden as a board member when his father was serving as vp and overseeing American relations with Ukraine. Mr. Kulyk mentioned the topic with Mr. Giuliani, who was pushing the Ukrainian authorities to announce an investigation into the Bidens to break the previous vp’s presidential marketing campaign.

Mr. Kulyk, who has since been fired from the prosecutors’ workplace, was accused by the Treasury Division on Monday of forming “an alliance with Derkach to unfold false accusations of worldwide corruption.”

Mr. Telizhenko, a political marketing consultant and former official within the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, offered info to Senate Republicans for a report on the Bidens’ work in Ukraine, which was launched weeks earlier than Election Day in an obvious effort to break the Biden marketing campaign. The report discovered no proof of improper affect or wrongdoing by the previous vp.

Mr. Telizhenko assisted Mr. Giuliani throughout the 2020 marketing campaign, arranging conferences with Ukrainians claiming to have damaging details about the Bidens. Mr. Telizhenko helped plan a visit for Mr. Giuliani to Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, in December 2019, throughout which Mr. Giuliani met with Mr. Derkach and recorded interviews with him and others that aired on Mr. Giuliani’s podcast and a particular on the pro-Trump cable channel One America Information Community.

The Treasury Division appeared to allude to this journey in explaining its sanctions of Mr. Telizhenko, noting in its assertion that he “orchestrated conferences between Derkach and U.S. individuals to assist propagate false claims regarding corruption in Ukraine.” The assertion didn’t explicitly title Mr. Giuliani or the Bidens, but it surely asserted that the sanctioned Ukrainians “leveraged U.S. media, U.S.-based social media platforms and influential U.S. individuals” of their efforts to unfold damaging allegations.

”I’ll proceed to combat for the reality it doesn’t matter what lies are unfold in opposition to me, as God is the place the reality is,” Mr. Telizhenko stated in an emailed assertion on Monday. “I stood and can stand with President Donald J. Trump.”

Mr. Giuliani didn’t reply to a request for touch upon Monday.

After the sanctions in opposition to Mr. Derkach have been introduced in September, Mr. Giuliani stated in an interview that he “didn’t do a lot investigation” of Mr. Derkach however had “no motive to imagine he’s a Russian agent.”

Within the interview, Mr. Giuliani stated he knew Mr. Telizhenko “rather a lot higher than I do know Derkach,” including he “appeared into” Mr. Telizhenko “very fastidiously. I imply, look, I’m not a genius, however I’d be shocked if he’s something like a Russian agent.” He added: “I’d vouch for only a few Ukrainians. I’d come fairly near vouching for him. I’m unsure I’d fully vouch for him, however fairly shut.”

The sanctions in opposition to Mr. Derkach stemmed from his launch of audio recordings of Mr. Biden speaking to Petro O. Poroshenko, the previous president of Ukraine. Mr. Trump promoted among the materials launched by Mr. Derkach, who claimed the recordings revealed corruption, although the conversations have been largely unremarkable.

Different Ukrainians focused on Monday have been accused of aiding within the efforts associated to the recordings.

Oleksandr Onyshchenko, a former Ukrainian lawmaker and ally of Mr. Poroshenko, was accused by the Treasury Division of offering the recordings to Mr. Derkach. Mr. Onyshchenko fled Ukraine in 2016 after being accused of fraud and cash laundering.

Oleksandr Dubinsky, a present member of the Ukrainian Parliament, was designated by the Treasury Division for becoming a member of Mr. Derkach in information conferences that highlighted the recordings. The Treasury Division stated the information conferences have been “designed to perpetuate” false narratives in opposition to “U.S. presidential candidates and their households.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated in a press release on Monday that the Ukrainian officers dealing with sanctions “have made repeated public statements advancing malicious narratives that U.S. authorities officers have engaged in corrupt dealings in Ukraine.” He added, “These efforts and narratives are in keeping with or in assist of Derkach’s targets to affect the 2020 U.S. presidential election.”

Two of the media corporations that have been punished — together with NabuLeaks, which posted the recordings of Mr. Biden and Mr. Poroshenko — are owned or managed by Mr. Derkach. The opposite two, Solely Information and Skeptik TOV, are owned by Mr. Derkach’s media supervisor Petro Zhuravel, who was additionally penalized by the Treasury Division on Monday.

A lot of Mr. Derkach’s allies have been additionally focused. They embody Dmytro Kovalchuk, a member of his media group, and Anton Simonenko, a detailed affiliate who helped Mr. Derkach cover monetary property, in line with the Treasury Division.

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