March 2, 2024

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Washington says Russia paid $300 million to influence foreign elections

Washington says Russia paid $300 million to influence foreign elections

Washington | According to a U.S. intelligence estimate released Tuesday, Russia has sent at least $300 million to political parties and candidates in more than 20 countries since 2014.

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The U.S. “considers these to be minimum estimates, and Russia may have secretly transferred much more undetected funds,” a senior U.S. official said.

“We think this is the tip of the iceberg,” he told reporters on condition of anonymity.

Among the most notable cases cited in this new analysis was a Russian ambassador stationed in an Asian country who gave millions of dollars to a presidential candidate.

US intelligence did not name the countries involved. But Russia spent about $500,000 to support Albania’s center-right Democratic Party candidate in the 2017 election, according to a source familiar with the matter in the Biden administration.

According to the same source, Moscow will fund parties or candidates in Montenegro, Bosnia or Madagascar.

The figure, who was not authorized to speak officially, said Moscow used Brussels as a hub from which many foundations and structures supported far-right candidates.

The Russian embassy in Ecuador also received “large sums” of money between 2014 and 2017 with the aim of influencing the results of elections, the source added.

In Europe, Moscow used fictitious contracts and front companies to finance political parties, while Russian state institutions provided funds to Central America, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, according to Washington.

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Russia sometimes sent money, but also used cryptocurrencies and “luxurious” gifts, according to reports.

“Sovereignty”

The senior official said US diplomacy will share the findings with the governments of more than 100 other countries.

Joe Biden’s administration requested this assessment from his services following the February 24 invasion of Ukraine, which led the United States to do everything to isolate Moscow and Kyiv.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said Russia’s alleged meddling in foreign elections was an “assault on sovereignty.”

“This is an attempt to destroy the ability of people around the world to elect governments that are best suited to represent them,” he added.

This new assessment does not analyze Russian interference in US politics.

But US intelligence agencies have previously accused Russia of meddling in the 2016 US election, including using social media to support Donald Trump, who praised Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The U.S. is working hard to address “(their) weaknesses” and “encourages other countries to do the same and join (them) in this important effort,” the official said.

An internal State Department document addressed to US representatives abroad confirms that Russia conducted the fundraising campaign to “increase its influence over individuals and parties” and then ensure they “get good results at the polls”.

U.S. allegations of interference are often derided by Russian officials who suggest that U.S. intelligence agencies support coups in Iran or Chile.

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