Russian authorities claim that a Russian network that “pays off European politicians” has been dismantled

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Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said that members of the European Parliament had received money from the network

A Russian-backed “propaganda” network for spreading anti-Ukrainian stories and paying unnamed European politicians has been dismantled, according to authorities in several countries.

Investigators alleged that she used the popular Voice of Europe website as a means to pay politicians.

The Czech Republic and Poland said the network aimed to influence European politics.

Voice of Europe did not respond to the BBC's request for comment.

Czech media reported, citing intelligence sources, that politicians from Germany, France, Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands and Hungary received money from Voice of Europe in order to influence the upcoming elections for the European Parliament.

German newspaper Der Spiegel said the money was delivered in cash at secret meetings in Prague or through cryptocurrency exchanges.

The Czech Republic claims that pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk is behind the network.

Medvedchuk was captured in Ukraine shortly after the Russian invasion, but was later transferred to Russia with about 50 prisoners of war and 215 Ukrainians.

Czech authorities also named Artyom Marchevski, claiming that he was managing the day-to-day operations of the site. The Czech authorities have imposed sanctions on both men.

The Polish intelligence agency said it conducted searches in the Warsaw and Tychy regions and seized €48,500 (£41,500) and $36,000 (£28,500).

The Bank for International Settlements said in a statement: “Money from Moscow was used to pay the salaries of some political actors who spread Russian propaganda.”

She added that the amounts amounted to “millions” of Czech crowns (tens of thousands of pounds sterling).

The BIS said the alleged propaganda network “aims to carry out activities against the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.”

The Bank for International Settlements did not mention the names of the politicians allegedly involved. However, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo claimed that among them were members of the European Parliament.

“It has emerged, for example, that Russia contacted members of the European Parliament, but also paid them [them]”To promote Russian propaganda here,” De Croo told Belgian lawmakers.

The Voice of Europe website was offline on Thursday. An archived version of its home page showed several articles highlighting internal divisions within European countries and expressing doubts about support for Ukraine.

These included: “Protest in Prague: The people's voice against corruption and military support for Ukraine and the government”, and “Ukrainian army faces increasing troop shortages amid ongoing challenges”.

Voice of Europe had more than 180,000 followers on Twitter/X. The newspaper did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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