European politicians 'turned a blind eye' to Putin's crimes for Russian money, – investigation

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European politicians turned a blind eye to Putin's crimes for Russian money - investigation

Journalists got access to the email correspondence of Russian media technologist Sargis Mirzakhanyan, who worked as an assistant to Russian deputies, which discussed the lifting of sanctions after the annexation of Crimea.

The leak was published by hackers who call themselves “Cyber ​​Junta” in 2016&mdash ;2017, says OCCRP investigation, IRPI, “Important Stories” and Profile.

Russian-funded lobbying group International Agency for Contemporary Politics since at least 2016, she has been working with European politicians to achieve the lifting of EU sanctions imposed after the annexation of Crimea.

Journalists found in the correspondence a project to lift sanctions against Russia for Cyprus, where the sanctions are described as “fundamentally contrary to international law”, and also highlights the economic damage caused to Cyprus as a result of the loss of business with Russia. It turned out to be almost identical to the final version, signed a few months later by the Cypriot parliamentary faction AKEL.

The emails also detail individual project ideas for Latvia, Greece and even the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. However, there is no indication that these proposals were officially put forward.

Representatives of the right-wing parties Paolo Tosato from the Italian League of the North and Johannes Hübner of the Austrian Freedom Party were supposed to submit resolutions to their legislatures to lift sanctions against Russia, according to the correspondence. Each project had a budget of 20 thousand euros, and another 15 thousand euros were reserved for each “in case of a successful vote.”

In one of the leaked letters, Mirzakhanyan says that he received information from an unnamed European politician "at the price tag for the vote". Tozato and Hübner eventually presented the respective drafts in their respective parliaments.

In 2016, Mirzakhanyan's organization worked with Italian MP Stefano Valdegamberi of the Veneto Regional Parliament: it was the first region in an EU country to adopt a resolution to lift sanctions against Russia. "It's a bomb! In terms of media — this is likely to be our loudest information throw! — Mirzakhanyan reacted in one of the letters. Then the regional councils in Liguria and Lombardy followed Veneto's example and adopted their own resolutions for the “recognition” of Crimea is part of Russia.

The establishment of cooperation was also expressed in the invitation to the Yalta International Economic Forum, which was held annually from 2016 to 2019 with the participation of the Mirzakhanyan team. The correspondence contains a list of the names of nine European politicians invited to Yalta from Austria, Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic and Poland and their fees totaling 21,500 euros. These payments are likely to go beyond reimbursement of expenses, as transport costs were discussed separately.

From the letters dated 2017, it follows that Mirzakhanyan's organization worked with the team of MP Leonid Slutsky to invite prominent European figures for observation of elections in Russia in September 2017.

Invitations were sent through the Russian Peace Fund founded by Slutsky, and the budget for expenses for 2017 amounted to at least 68 thousand euros, including for paying for the road and residence, according to emails.

Observers included three MEPs: Jaromir Kolicek from the Czech Republic, Dominik Bilde from France and André Elissen from the Netherlands, as well as Belgian House of Representatives Aldo Karkachi, MEP of the National Council of Slovakia Marek Krajci, Deputy of the National Assembly of Bulgaria Rumen Gechev and Deputy of the Riksdag of Sweden Pavel Gamov.

Stefano Valdeganberi also worked as an observer in Crimea during during the 2018 presidential elections and the 2021 parliamentary elections.

Prepared by: Nina Petrovich

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