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MEPs call to investigate Russia’s bribery of EU politicians

Czech authorities have disclosed a scheme involving Russian bribery of European politicians through the Voice of Europe network. Members of the European Parliament are demanding an investigation.
EU Parliament. Credit: ESGtoday
MEPs call to investigate Russia’s bribery of EU politicians

Several Members of the European Parliament demanded an investigation into the alleged bribery of European politicians by Russia following Czech authorities’ uncovering of a scheme linked to the website Voice of Europe.

In a letter to EP President Robert Metsola, Valerie Hayer, leader of the Renew Europe faction, called for “a full and transparent internal investigation.” She emphasized that “If sitting MEPs or candidates in the upcoming European elections have taken money from the Russian government or their proxies, they must be exposed and action taken against them,” as reported by AFP. The Renew Europe faction also urged urgent parliamentary debates on the matter.

The Greens emphasized the necessity of a “swift and thorough” investigation, stating that such actions by Russian President Vladimir Putin are an attempt to evade accountability for the war in Ukraine. Terry Reintke, a lead candidate for the Greens in the upcoming European elections, described this as a direct attack on democracy. She further stated that politicians who have received money from Russia should face severe political and legal consequences, as per AFP.

AFP says a spokesperson for the parliament stated that they are currently examining the Czech authorities’ findings regarding the ‘Voice of Europe’ outlet in coordination with institutional partners. The spokesperson also noted that the parliament already prohibits access to the institution for media on EU sanctions lists.

Russia’s bribes for EU politicians

On 28 March, Czech authorities claimed to have uncovered a scheme involving the dissemination of Russian propaganda in Europe and the bribery of European politicians. Details of the scheme were published by Der Spiegel and the Czech newspaper Denik N a day earlier.

Russia suspected of funneling funds to Germany’s AfD party for pro-Russian messaging

Czech authorities uncovered the scheme involving Voice of Europe, a pro-Russian site, spreading Kremlin propaganda and funding European candidates. The site, offering content in 15 languages, exhibited oddities like strange translations and Cyrillic letters. Funds, totaling hundreds of thousands of euros, were allegedly transferred through cash handovers or cryptocurrency channels, overseen by Artem Marchevskyi, linked to Putin’s Ukrainian crony Viktor Medvedchuk. German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser praised the revelation as a significant blow against Russian propaganda before the European elections, according to Spiegel.

Allegations of bribing European politicians lack evidence of direct money transfers. Uncertainty surrounds which politicians received payments. However, the discovery of undisclosed financial means is indirectly confirmed by raids in Poland, where a site co-owner was located. On 28 March, Polish ABW special service officers confiscated €48,500 and $36,000 during searches in Warsaw and Tykocin, according to DW. The raids were linked to both the Voice of Europe case and accusations against a Polish citizen of spying for Russia.

According to Politico, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo stated that Belgian and Czech intelligence services collaborated closely this week to dismantle a Russian propaganda network. During a debate in the Belgian parliament about foreign interference, he revealed that Russia had approached MEPs and paid them to promote Russian propaganda, without naming the lawmakers. De Croo’s remarks, as his spokesperson told Politico, referred to the Czech government’s decision to sanction Voice of Europe, which Prague said was part of a pro-Russian influence operation.

Read the follow-up article:

Ukraine’s SBU helped Czech BIS counterintelligence agency reveal pro-Russian MEP influence scheme

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