President Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani has met with Derkach at least three times since late last year and posted the allegations of the Ukrainian legislature on his podcast and elsewhere in what the Treasury Department now calls a foreign meddling campaign by an active Russian agent aimed at it starting to influence the 2020 election. Giuliani met Derkach in Kiev late last year as the House prepared to indict Trump over a Giuliani-organized pressure campaign to get the Ukrainian government to announce Biden probes. Derkach later visited Giuliani in New York months before he began posting Biden̵
Derkach “and other Russian agents are using manipulation and deception to try to influence elections in the United States and elsewhere in the world,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “The United States will continue to use all the instruments at its disposal to counter these Russian disinformation campaigns and to maintain the integrity of our electoral system.”
The Treasury Department said Derkach “directly or indirectly engaged, sponsored, concealed or otherwise complicit in foreign interference to undermine the upcoming 2020 US presidential election.”
“Derkach’s current name focuses on exposing Russian campaigns with malicious influence and protecting our upcoming elections from outside interference,” the department said in a statement. “This action is a clear signal to Moscow and its representatives that this activity will not be tolerated.”
In addition to Derkach, the finance department imposed sanctions on three people from the Internet Research Agency, the St. Petersburg-based troll factory, which created fake social media accounts during the 2016 election campaign to influence the election. The department said the three people supported the IRA’s cryptocurrency accounts that were used to fund such operations. One of them was also charged with fraud conspiracy in the eastern district of Virginia.
Derkach, a former member of the Russia Party of Regions in Ukraine, was educated at the KGB College in Moscow before entering independent Ukraine in economics and politics after the collapse of the Soviet Union. His father was a longtime KGB officer who later headed the independent Ukrainian intelligence service in the late 1990s and early 2000s, before losing his position in a scandal over the involvement of the Ukrainian authorities in the kidnapping and murder of a prominent journalist.
Nikolai Lakhonin, a spokesman for the Russian embassy in Washington, did not comment on whether Derkach is an active Russian agent and referred questions about him to the Ukrainian embassy. Lakhonin said the United States was “trying to keep its favorite subject afloat” by imposing sanctions on Derkach.
“In our opinion, this speculation has run its course and is doing it on purpose in the upcoming US election in November,” Lakhonin said in an email.
The Russian government has declined to meddle in U.S. elections despite hacked emails from Hillary and in a 448-page report by former Special Envoy Robert S. Mueller III and an indictment accusing 12 named Russian intelligence officers Having released extensive evidence of the activities, Clinton’s campaign managers and the Democratic National Committee were presented in 2016.
In a statement to the Washington Post earlier this year, Derkach praised Giuliani for collaborating in his activities and declined to work for or with foreign intelligence agencies. Such allegations are attempts to stop its work to fight international corruption.
“There is not a single confirmed or reliable fact about my illegal activities or false connections,” Derkach said in the statement. He said that many high-ranking officials in countries that were once part of the Warsaw Pact studied at Moscow’s premier intelligence academy.
The Treasury Department said any property interests that Derkach holds under US jurisdiction would be frozen and US persons would not be allowed to transact with him. The sanctions also prevent companies 50 percent or more owned by Derkach from doing business in the United States.
Derkach did not respond to a request for comment on the sanctions on Thursday. Andrew Bates, a spokesman for the Biden campaign, declined to comment.
Since last year Derkach has carried out a comprehensive campaign against Biden and the former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko from Kiev. This includes an English language website and YouTube channel, as well as a conspiratorial flow chart with former Vice President and financier George Soros at its center.
The Ukrainian legislature called his campaign “DemoCorruption” and made a number of false allegations – including some that Giuliani had made known in the US – against Biden and US officials who had worked with him. In May, he began holding press conferences revealing edited clips from telephone conversations that Biden had made with Poroshenko while he was in charge of diplomacy with Ukraine.
According to the Treasury Department, Derkach waged an influence campaign during the 2020 vote, cultivating false and unsubstantiated reports on US officials, and attempted to advance corruption investigations in both Ukraine and the US, “which they did before Election Day Should peak “. The unsubstantiated narratives of the Ukrainian legislature, according to the Ministry of Finance, were propelled in the Western media by the coverage of its press conferences, interviews and statements he gave.
“Derkach was almost certainly targeting the US electorate, prominent US figures and members of the US government based on US platforms, English-language documents and videos, and pro-Russian lobbyists in the US to propagate his claims “Said the department.
Derkach’s allegations were picked up by One America News, a presidential preferred network that launched pro-Trump conspiracy theories. One America News conducted interviews with Derkach and released its allegations against Biden in an attempt to inject into the US political ecosystem the pre-election narrative Ukrainian lawmakers wanted to promote.
A One America News spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.
The sanctions have interrupted a political row on Capitol Hill in which Democrats have warned that Senate Republicans could risk legitimizing information from figures like Derkach as part of their investigation into the Biden family and Ukraine.
“This is of course the same Kremlin agent who met and communicated with the president’s personal attorney and passed this false information to Congress,” said Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, in a statement on Thursday.
Derkach told the Post and other news outlets that he had also sent materials to Congress to investigate his allegations.
Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) And Senator Charles E. Grassley (R-
Iowa), who lead a Senate investigation into Biden and Ukraine that Democrats condemned as an election smear, have said they received no information from Derkach in their investigation due to close this month.
“Foreign elections, interfering in all their forms from all parts of the world, cannot be tolerated. We commend the Trump administration for holding the perpetrators of foreign interference accountable, ”Grassley and Johnson wrote in a statement Thursday.
In a message to the Post late Thursday, Giuliani said that neither he nor Trump knew anything about Derkach during the events of summer 2019 that formed the basis of the impeachment probe.
Giuliani said he first met Derkach when Ukrainian lawmakers walked into the One America News studio in Washington in November 2019, suggesting he met the Ukrainian lawmaker at least three times.
Giuliani also tried to distance himself from Derkach, saying most of the information that the Ukrainian legislature had already provided. “I haven’t heard from him in a long time so I don’t know how he’ll try to influence the election if it is him,” said Giuliani.
In an interview with The Post earlier this year, Giuliani said he knew Derkach “pretty well” and that Ukrainian lawmakers “helped me a lot”.
When asked if Derkach had provided him with materials, Giuliani said: “Oh my God, yes.”
Giuliani, who has tried to initiate an investigation by the Justice Department against Biden, spoke at length about the documents he had received from Derkach. He said Derkach had checked and shared the files of the prosecutor from Ukraine.
Giuliani denied being used as a farmer in a Russian influence campaign, saying Derkach was not pro-Russian and appeared to be “fully committed to free Ukraine”.
The former New York mayor said it would bother him if Derkach worked for the Russians.
“Sure it would bother me. It would, ”said Giuliani. “But I don’t have to rely on his credibility. I depend on the credibility of his documents. “
In his statement, Schiff aimed at Giuliani without mentioning him by name.
“This announcement was meant to serve as a reminder to those in the United States who have increased Derkach’s disinformation and engaged with him and other foreign actors who spread similar false stories that their work is only promoting the interests and efforts of Vladimir Putin,” said Ship. “Americans alone should make American elections.”
David L. Stern from Kiev contributed to this report.