The US Treasury placed sanctions Monday on four Ukrainians who aided President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani in an election campaign effort to smear Democrat Joe Biden.
Former Ukrainian government officials Konstantin Kulyk, Oleksandr Onyshchenko, Andriy Telizhenko, and current Ukraine lawmaker Oleksandr Dubinsky were called part of an effort led by “Russian agent” Andrii Derkach to undermine Biden’s presidential run, the Treasury said.
All four were in contact with or met with Giuliani in late 2019 as he sought to compile evidence that now President-elect Biden and his son Hunter were involved in corruption in Ukraine.
That effort was made just as Trump himself faced impeachment for his own allegedly corrupt use of political pressure on Ukraine’s government to provide dirt on the Bidens.
Working with already-sanctioned Derkach, the four “coordinated dissemination and promotion of fraudulent and unsubstantiated allegations involving a US political candidate,” the Treasury said.
“They have made repeated public statements to advance disinformation narratives that US government officials have engaged in corrupt dealings in Ukraine.”
The Treasury also placed on its blacklist three other Derkach aides and four Ukraine media companies Derkach used to “disseminate false narratives”, the Treasury said.
Derkach played an important role in the Trump-Giuliani effort to attack Trump’s lead election rival, former Democratic vice president Biden, in 2019 a year before the election.
Giuliani traveled to Ukraine and met with Derkach and his team, appearing with Derkach on the pro-Trump One America News Network to present a concocted story about the Bidens having been engaged in corruption in the Eastern European country.
Giuliani continued to use those meetings and the material they generated to try to smear Biden well into 2020 until the Treasury placed sanctions on Derkach in September, labelling him a Russian intelligence operative.
Kulyk, a state prosecutor until he was fired in late 2019, was the source of a seven-page dossier that purportedly proved “crimes” by the Bidens that was used by Giuliani and Trump supporters in Congress to batter the Democrat.
Onyshchenko is a former senior political official and lawmaker who fled into exile when he was removed in 2016 under allegations of corruption.
Telizhenko is a former Ukrainian diplomat who traveled with Giuliani as he sought to promote the Biden corruption claim.
Dubinsky currently serves in the Ukraine parliament and met with Giuliani in December 2019.
The sanctions seek to freeze any assets those blacklisted have under US jurisdiction.
The sanctions also ban US businesses and individuals from dealings with them, an effort aimed mainly at locking them out of the global financial system.
“Russian disinformation campaigns targeting American citizens are a threat to our democracy,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.