Belgium probing Russian ‘interference’ in European Parliament: PM

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM   -   Belgian prosecutors have opened a probe into Russian “interference” in the European Parliament following allegations lawmakers were paid to spread Kremlin propa­ganda, Belgian Prime Min­ister Alexander De Croo said Friday. “Our judicial authorities have now con­firmed this interference is subject to prosecution,” De Croo said. “The cash payments did not take place in Belgium, but the interference does. As Bel­gium is the seat of the EU institutions, we have a re­sponsibility to uphold ev­ery citizen’s right to a free and safe vote.” He said a summit of EU leaders next week would discuss the al­legations which have been raised just ahead of bloc-wide elections in June to choose a new parliament. De Croo said Moscow’s “clear” objectives were to “help elect more pro-Russian candidates to the European Parliament and reinforce the pro-Russian narrative in that institu­tion”. A spokesperson for Belgium’s prosecutors’ office confirmed to AFP that a probe was started on Thursday. The Czech Republic last month said its intelligence service had discovered a net­work that used EU law­makers to spread Russian propaganda through the Prague-based Voice of Eu­rope news site. Belgium says its own services have determined that some of the lawmakers had been paid to promote Moscow’s propaganda.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt