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EU acts against Russian propaganda and human rights violations

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The Council of the European Union has imposed restrictive measures against two individuals and one online media outlet for targeting propaganda at civil society in the EU and its neighbours, by gravely distorting and manipulating facts in order to justify and support Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine. The propaganda has repeatedly and consistently targeted European political parties, especially during election periods, as well as targeting civil society, asylum seekers, Russian ethnic minorities, gender minorities, and the functioning of democratic institutions in the EU and its member states.

The Council imposed restrictive measures on "Voice of Europe", which has engaged in a systematic, international campaign of media manipulation and distortion of facts to destabilise Ukraine, the EU and its member states. Voice of Europe runs a website - with accounts promoting it on social media such as Facebook, YouTube, Telegram and X - actively spreading disinformation related to Ukraine and promoting pro-Kremlin false narratives about the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Voice of Europe has also been used as a vehicle for funnelling financial resources to pay propagandists. It has built a network influencing representatives of political parties in Europe. 

Today’s listings also include two persons closely associated with Voice of Europe: 

- Artem Marchevskyi, who played a key role in the acquisition of the “Voice of Europe” media brand. As its concealed head, he has played an instrumental role in disseminating concerted disinformation and biased narratives aimed at undermining the credibility and public image of Ukraine and its efforts to defend itself against Russia’s war of aggression. 


- Viktor Medvedchuk, who has promoted policies and actions intended to erode the credibility and legitimacy of the Government of Ukraine. Medvedchuk has close personal ties to Vladimir Putin and is associated with his regime, and through his associates, including Artem Marchevskyi, he controlled Ukrainian media outlets and used them to disseminate pro-Russian propaganda in Ukraine and beyond.

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Altogether, EU restrictive measures in respect of actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine now apply to over 2100 individuals and entities. Those designated today are subject to an asset freeze and EU citizens and companies are forbidden from making funds available to them. Individuals are additionally subject to a travel ban, which prevents them from entering or transiting through EU territories.

The Council has also established a new framework for restrictive measures against those responsible for serious human rights violations or abuses, repression of civil society and democratic opposition, and undermining democracy and the rule of law in Russia. The decision to establish this new sanctions’ regime is part of the EU’s response to the accelerating and systematic repression in Russia.

The new regime was proposed by High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell after the untimely death of the opposition politician Alexei Navalny in a Siberian prison in February. “Alexei Navalny’s shocking death was another sign of the accelerating and systematic repression by the Kremlin regime. He, as with other political prisoners and victims, gave hope to democrats and civil society in Russia”, said Josep Borrell. “We will spare no efforts to hold the Russian political leadership and authorities to account, including through this new sanctions regime, targeting those limiting the respect for and violating human rights in Russia”.

The new sanctions regime introduces trade restrictions on exporting to Russia equipment which might be used for internal repression, as well as on equipment, technology or software intended primarily for use in information security and the monitoring or interception of telecommunication. The Council also decided to list one organisation and 19 individuals under the new regime:

-the Federal Penitentiary Service of the Russian Federation, which is the central authority managing the Russian prison system, known for its widespread and systematic abuses against, and ill-treatment of, political prisoners in Russia. As a federal agency, FSIN is responsible for the penal colonies where Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny was held on politically motivated charges and ultimately died on 16 February 2024.

-several judges, prosecutors and members of the judiciary, who played a key role in the imprisonment and ultimate death of Alexei Navalny, as well as the sentencing on politically motivated charges of Oleg Orlov, one of the most respected and longest-serving human rights defenders in Russia, one of the leaders of 2022 Nobel Peace Prize-winning organisation Memorial Human Rights Defence Centre, and the artist Alexandra Skochilenko.

The EU remains deeply concerned about the continuing deterioration of human rights in Russia, especially in the context of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. It strongly condemns the severe expansion of restrictive legislation, the systematic and intensifying repression against civil society and human rights defenders, as well as the unabated crackdown on independent media, individual journalists and media workers, political opposition members and other critical voices active throughout the Russian Federation and outside the country.


 

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