WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Monday sanctioned more than a half-dozen associates of a Ukrainian lawmaker accused by U.S. officials of interfering in the 2020 presidential election by releasing edited audio recordings of President-elect Joe Biden.
The Treasury Department already had imposed sanctions on Andrii Derkach, whom U.S. officials have characterized as an “active Russian agent.” They say he was part of a broader Russian effort to disparage Biden before the election by promoting false claims about his ties to Ukraine. That effort included meetings between Derkach and President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who himself has long pushed unsubstantiated allegations about Biden.
On Monday, the department singled out seven Derkach associates, including three former Ukrainian government officials and a current lawmaker, as having worked with him to “make fraudulent and unsubstantiated allegations involving a U.S. political candidate.”
“They have made repeated public statements to advance disinformation narratives that U.S. government officials have engaged in corrupt dealings in Ukraine,” the department said in a statement. “These efforts are consistent with and in support of Derkach’s efforts, acting as an agent of the Russian intelligence services, to influence the 2020 U.S. Presidential election.”
One of the seven, who is currently a fugitive facing corruption allegations in Ukraine, provided edited audio recordings that were subsequently released by Derkach last year, the Treasury Department said. Another, lawmaker Oleksandr Dubinsky, attended press conferences with Derkach "designed to perpetuate these and other false narratives and denigrate U.S. presidential candidates and their families, according to the department.
Also sanctioned are Derkach's media manager; an assistant for nearly a decade; a longtime supporter who has served on his media team; and four media front companies that the Treasury Department says are involved in pushing out disinformation and false narratives.
The sanctions mean that any property the individuals own in the U.S. is blocked, and that people in the U.S. will generally be prohibited from doing business with them.
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Eric Tucker, The Associated Press