Money for AfD politicians? – Russian propaganda network dismantled in the EU

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Czech intelligence has uncovered a Moscow-funded network spreading anti-Ukrainian propaganda across Europe. The group used the Prague news site ‘Voice of Europe’ for this purpose, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said on Wednesday. Money is said to have flowed to several politicians in Europe.

According to Fiala, the Voice of Europe website disseminated information intended to discourage the European Union from providing assistance to Ukraine in the fight against the Russian army.

According to Fiala, the Czech Security Information Service (BIS) found that the pro-Russian network undertook activities that “have serious consequences for the security of the Czech Republic and the EU.” The group had agitated on EU territory “against the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine,” Fiala told reporters. The group’s activities also reached the European Parliament, Fiala said, without giving further details.

Russian money for EU election campaign
Czech daily Denik N reported that the news site had published statements by politicians calling on the EU to end its aid to Ukraine. Some European politicians who worked with the news site were paid with Russian money, which in some cases also covered the costs of their campaign for the European elections in June.

The payments concerned politicians from Germany, Belgium, France, Hungary, the Netherlands and Poland, the newspaper wrote, citing a source at the Czech Foreign Ministry. The Alternative for Germany (AfD) was also involved. As “Spiegel” reported, the money was handed over in cash during in-person meetings in Prague – or transferred via cryptocurrency.

Krah denies payments
According to Spiegel, ‘Voice of Europe’ includes interviews with AfD European election top candidate Maximilian Krah and AfD candidate Petr Bystron, who is in second place on the list. According to Spiegel, Krah said he had given two interviews to Voice of Europe, one of which was in Prague. “Obviously he didn’t get any money for it, neither for me nor for the party.”

The operators of “Voice of Europe” have been placed on the national sanctions list against Russia by the Czech government, as announced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Prague. The website is part of a Russian influence operation aimed at questioning Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and freedom.

The person behind the website includes the oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk, who was accused of high treason in Ukraine but came to Russia in September 2022 as part of a prisoner exchange. According to the ministry, Medvedchuk, who is considered a confidant of Vladimir Putin, was also personally placed on the sanctions list.

Website not accessible
The decision contributes to the protection of democratic processes before the European Parliament elections in June, the Czech Foreign Ministry emphasizes. The operator of the website “voiceofeurope.com”, which is also available in German, is registered in Prague. She is also active on social networks such as Facebook and Platform X, where she has more than 180,000 followers. After it became known that the propaganda network had been dismantled, the website was unavailable on Wednesday evening, possibly because the servers were overloaded.

By placing on the national sanctions list, the Tax Authorities can freeze the property of those affected. The sanctioned people are no longer allowed to enter the Czech Republic. “The government has never closed websites and will not do so this time, but state organs will enforce the sanctions,” Fiala explained. This would make further operations from Prague impossible.

Source: Krone

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