Police search the European Parliament over attainable Russian interference | EUROtoday

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Police searched the places of work and residence of an worker of the European Parliament on Wednesday as a part of an investigation into whether or not EU lawmakers had been bribed to advertise Russian propaganda to undermine assist for Ukraine, prosecutors mentioned.

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Just days earlier than European elections, Belgium’s federal prosecutor’s workplace mentioned searches passed off on the worker’s residence in Brussels. His parliamentary places of work within the EU capital metropolis and Strasbourg, the place the EU Parliament’s headquarters are situated in France, had been additionally checked.

Belgian and French authorities, in partnership with the EU’s judicial cooperation company Eurojust, carried out the operation.

Europe-wide polls to elect a brand new EU parliament are set for June 6-9.

An investigation was introduced final month by Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, who mentioned his nation’s intelligence service has confirmed the existence of a community attempting to undermine assist for Ukraine.

Read extraSuspected Russian sabotage: The nice return of Kremlin brokers to Europe?

“The searches are part of a case of interference, passive corruption and membership of a criminal organization and relates to indications of Russian interference, whereby Members of the European Parliament were approached and paid to promote Russian propaganda via the Voice of Europe news website,” prosecutors mentioned.

Prosecutors mentioned they consider the worker performed “a significant role in this.”

Several information shops recognized the suspect as Guillaume Pradoura, a staffer for EU lawmaker Marcel de Graaff of the far-right Dutch social gathering Forum for Democracy. An individual with data of the investigation confirmed that the studies had been correct. The official was not allowed to talk publicly as a result of the probe is ongoing.

De Graaff mentioned on the social media platform X that he and Pradoura weren’t contacted by authorities.

“For me, all this comes as a complete surprise,” he mentioned. “By the way, I have no involvement in any so-called Russian disinformation operation whatsoever. I have my own political beliefs and I proclaim them. That is my job as an MEP.”

Pradoura beforehand labored for Maximilian Krah, the highest candidate of Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany in subsequent month’s European election, who was lately banned from campaigning by his social gathering.

Krah had already been beneath scrutiny after authorities in Brussels searched his places of work on the European Parliament in reference to considered one of his assistants who was arrested final month on suspicion of spying for China.

Read extraEurope’s election campaigns are beneath the fixed menace of international interference

Krah mentioned in a message posted on X that none of his places of work had been searched on Wednesday.

“The ex-employee in question has long been working for another MP,” he said.

The EU this month banned Voice of Europe and three other Russian media from broadcasting in the 27-nation bloc. The EU said they were all under control of the Kremlin and were targeting “European political parties, especially during election periods.” Since the struggle began in February 2022, the EU had already suspended Russia Today and Sputnik, amongst a number of different shops.

De Croo mentioned final month that the probe confirmed that members of the European Parliament had been approached and provided cash to advertise Russian propaganda.

“According to our intelligence service, the objectives of Moscow are very clear. The objective is to help elect more pro-Russian candidates to the European Parliament and to reinforce a certain pro-Russian narrative in that institution,” he mentioned.

“The goal is very clear: A weakened European support for Ukraine serves Russia on the battlefield and that is the real aim of what has been uncovered in the last weeks,” he added.

EU nations have poured billions of euros into Ukraine, together with important quantities of weaponry and ammunition. They’ve additionally slapped sanctions on high Russian officers, together with President Vladimir Putin, banks, corporations and the power sector since Moscow’s full-scale invasion in February 2022.


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