The U.S. on Monday announced the imposition of a fresh round of sanctions on several Russian individuals and entities accused of interfering in both the 2016 and 2018 elections.
The sanctions are the first to be implemented under an executive order signed by President Trump last year that aimed to curb foreign interference in U.S. elections.
“We have been clear: We will not tolerate foreign interference in our elections,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement. “The United States will continue to push back against malign actors who seek to subvert our democratic processes and we will not hesitate to impose further costs on Russia for its destabilizing and unacceptable activities.”
The new sanctions are in part directed at financier Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a principal backer of the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a group that led a disinformation campaign “designed to provoke and amplify political and social discord in the United States” in the run up to the 2016 presidential election, according to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report. Six other individuals were also blacklisted due to their involvement in IRA attempts to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections. Several of them were already under separate U.S. sanctions at the time of the announcement, as was Prigozhin.
A statement from the Treasury Department mentioned that the sanctions were meant to serve as a message to other foreign powers ahead of the 2020 presidential elections that the U.S. government is “safeguarding our democratic processes from adversaries — primarily Russia, Iran, and China.”