OFAC names more Russia-linked election-influence attempts


News

page image

Treasury takes further action against Russia-linked disinformation

The U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) took additional action on January 11, 2021, against seven individuals and four entities. All named are part of a Russia-linked foreign influence network associated with Andrii Derkach. Russian agent Derkach was designated on September 10, 2020, pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13848, for his attempt to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

“Russian disinformation campaigns targeting American citizens are a threat to our democracy,” said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “The United States will continue to aggressively defend the integrity of our election systems and processes.”

Treasury targets inner circle of Andrii Derkach

Since at least 2019, Derkach and his associates have leveraged U.S. media, U.S.-based social-media platforms, and influential U.S. persons to spread misleading and unsubstantiated allegations that current and former U.S. officials engaged in corruption, money laundering, and unlawful political influence in Ukraine.

Former Ukrainian Government officials Konstantin Kulyk, Oleksandr Onyshchenko, Andriy Telizhenko, and current Ukraine Member of Parliament Oleksandr Dubinsky have publicly appeared or affiliated themselves with Derkach through the coordinated dissemination and promotion of fraudulent and unsubstantiated allegations involving a U.S. political candidate. They have made repeated public statements to advance disinformation narratives that U.S. government officials have engaged in corrupt dealings in Ukraine. These efforts are consistent with and in support of Derkach’s efforts, acting as an agent of the Russian intelligence services, to influence the 2020 U.S. Presidential election.

Kulyk, a former prosecutor for the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine, formed an alliance with Derkach to spread false accusations of international corruption. Onyshchenko, a fugitive from Ukrainian justice due to charges of corruption, provided edited audio tape copies of purported audio recordings of conversations between former Ukrainian and U.S. officials, which Derkach released between May and July 2020 to discredit U.S. officials and influence the U.S. elections. Telizhenko, a former low-level Ukrainian diplomat, orchestrated meetings between Derkach and U.S. persons to help propagate false claims concerning corruption in Ukraine. Dubinsky, who serves alongside Derkach in Ukraine’s parliament, joined Derkach in press conferences designed to perpetuate these and other false narratives and denigrate U.S. presidential candidates and their families.

Kulyk, Onyshchenko, Telizhenko, and Dubinsky are being designated pursuant to E.O. 13848 for having directly or indirectly engaged in, sponsored, concealed, or otherwise been complicit in foreign influence in a United States election.

Treasury targets disinformation apparatus

NabuLeaks and Era-Media TOV are media front companies in Ukraine that push false narratives at Derkach’s behest. Derkach has been the de facto owner of Era-Media-related companies since the 1990s. More recently, Derkach created the NabuLeaks platform to disparage the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU). NABU was created in 2015 as one of three specialized anti-corruption bodies in Ukraine. Derkach and Dubinsky have lobbied against NABU in an effort to replace NABU leadership, discredit NABU as an organization, and deny their own corrupt practices.

NabuLeaks and Era-Media TOV are being designated pursuant to E.O. 13848 for being owned or controlled by Derkach.

Derkach has also used a network of media professionals and assistants to operate these entities, supporting his influence campaign centered on cultivating false or unsubstantiated narratives and spurring corruption investigations in both Ukraine and the United States.

Petro Zhuravel is a key member of Derkach’s media team. He acts as Derkach’s media manager, and serves as website administrator for NabuLeaks, a cornerstone of Derkach’s election influence platform. Zhuravel provides technological support that underpins Derkach’s online activities. Zhuravel owns Only News and Skeptik TOV, which are media front companies in Ukraine that spread disinformation. These entities host websites that are part of a network of news sites that are controlled by Derkach’s media team and that help spread Derkach’s disinformation.

Dmytro Kovalchuk is a long-time supporter of Derkach. Most recently, he served in the ranks of Derkach’s media team, where he provided profiles on U.S. political figures.

Anton Simonenko served as Derkach’s assistant for nearly a decade and helped Derkach hide financial assets. Simonenko continues to be one of Derkach’s closest associates.

Zhuravel, Kovalchuk, and Simonenko are being designated pursuant to E.O. 13848 for having materially assisted, sponsored or provided financial, material or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, Derkach. Only News and Skeptik TOV are being designated pursuant to E.O. 13848 for being owned or controlled by Zhuravel.

The Treasury Department encourages the American people to confirm information received via social media intelligently by going to multiple trusted sources for news and information, particularly when the source or suspected source of the information is from outside the United States. More information specific to the U.S. 2020 election and disinformation campaigns can be found here: https://www.cisa.gov/rumorcontrol.

As a result of today’s designations, all property and interests in property of these targets that are subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them. Additionally, any entities 50 percent or more owned by one or more designated persons are also blocked.