US sanctions Russia-linked individuals over poll interference

The US government has designated four Russia-linked individuals, accusing them of attempting to influence the American electoral process.

The Treasury Department said in a statement on Thursday that the designated individuals comprised Andrii Derkach, a member of the Ukrainian Parliament, and the other three Russian nationals due to their ties with the Russia-based Internet Research Agency (IRA), reports Xinhua news agency.

According to a report in Politico news, Derkach, who was previously identified as a malign actor by the intelligence community, met President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani in Ukraine last December.

The meeting came as Giuliani mounted an effort to obtain derogatory information on former Vice President Joe Biden’s relationships in Ukraine.

“From at least late 2019 through mid-2020, Derkach waged a covert influence campaign centered on cultivating false and unsubstantiated narratives concerning US officials in the upcoming 2020 Presidential Election,” said the Treasure Department statement.

It also claimed that Derkach had been “an active Russian agent for over a decade, maintaining close connections with the Russian Intelligence Services”.

All property and interests of the property of the designated individuals in America have been blocked, and US persons are generally prohibited from engaging any transactions with them, the statement added.

Meanwhile, the three Russian individuals based in St. Petersburg Anton Andreyev, Darya Aslanova and Artem Lifshits were also designated by the Treasury Department on Thursday for their work supporting the cryptocurrency accounts of the IRA, that was previously sanctioned for interfering in the 2016 and 2018 US elections, The Hill news website reported.

“Andrii Derkach and other Russian agents employ manipulation and deceit to attempt to influence elections in the US and elsewhere around the world,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement.

“The US will continue to use all the tools at its disposal to counter these Russian disinformation campaigns and uphold the integrity of our election system.”