Russian interference in Bulgaria, elsewhere, cited as European Parliament calls for counter-measures

The European Parliament has called on the political leadership in the European Union and member states to counter Russian interference attempts urgently and vigorously.

Following several recent revelations of Kremlin-backed attempts to interfere with and undermine European democratic processes, MEPs adopted on April 25 a resolution firmly denouncing such efforts.

Any such tactics, they say, must have consequences.

The European Parliament said that it was appalled by credible allegations that some MEPs were paid to disseminate Russian propaganda and that several participated in the activities of pro-Russian media outlet “Voice of Europe”, at the same time as Russia’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine.

MEPs want EU and member state leaders to deal with Russian interference efforts, not just in the EU institutions but across the Union.

There is, they say, a sense of urgency and resolve to this given the approaching European elections on June 6-9 2024.

Referencing suspected Russian interference cases from across Europe, including Bulgaria, Germany and Slovakia, MEPs are concerned by the recent questioning of leading Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) MEP Maximilian Krah by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) over suspicions that he received money from Kremlin agents, and by the arrest in Germany on April 23 2024 of his parliamentary assistant on charges of being a Chinese spy.

The European Parliament calls on the AfD to publicly declare without delay its financial relations, especially with the Kremlin, and to publicly disclose the purpose and exact amount of all payments originating from Kremlin-linked sources.

MEPs say that while Russia remains the main origin of foreign interference and disinformation in the EU, other countries are also active.

They underline that the EU’s response to these threats can only be effective if it is based on a cross-cutting, holistic and long-term policy approach jointly carried by both the EU and member states.

To beef up the European Parliament’s own defences, the resolution suggests enhancing its internal security culture, including thorough internal investigations to assess possible cases of foreign interference and the full enforcement of its internal sanctions framework.

MEPs also want mandatory security training for MEPs and staffers, appropriate security clearance, and reinforced staff screening.

The resolution calls on the Council of the EU to include Kremlin-backed media outlets, other broadcasting and media organisations, and individuals responsible for propaganda and disinformation campaigns in the EU in the forthcoming 14th Russian sanctions package.

MEPs want to mirror the sanctions adopted by the Czech government against “Voice of Europe”, as well as Ukrainian pro-Russian oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk and his close associate Artem Marchevskyi.

They also deplore Voice of Europe’s ability to restart its operations from Kazakhstan and call on EU member states to ensure it cannot be accessed in the EU.

(Photo: © The Sofia Globe)

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