Russian Influence: Echoes of European сorruption, a warning sign for the U.S.

Dubbed “Moscow Marjorie” by some of her Republican colleagues, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene’s alignment with Russian propaganda has raised eyebrows within her own party. What was once whispered behind closed doors is now being openly discussed, with prominent GOP members expressing alarm over the infiltration of Russian narratives into American politics.

The revelations come amidst a broader backdrop of European authorities uncovering a sprawling corruption network orchestrated by pro-Russia Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk. This network, which spanned across several European countries, involved the direct payment of politicians to disseminate anti-Ukraine and pro-Russia messaging.

Contrary to popular belief, Russian influence operations extend beyond social media manipulation, incorporating sophisticated human intelligence tactics. Operatives from Russia’s security apparatus engage directly with politicians, journalists, and influencers, incentivizing them to promote narratives favorable to the Kremlin while maintaining plausible deniability.

The recent Voice of Europe scandal exemplifies the pervasive nature of Russian influence in Europe. Politicians in Germany, Italy, and Cyprus were found to have been paid to introduce legislation authored by Russian intelligence officers. Additionally, individuals posing as activists and think tank members published articles in European media outlets under their names, despite being authored by Russian handlers.

While we cannot say for sure if any Republican officials are on the Russian payroll in ways similar to their European counterparts, we can be sure that they’ve been approached. As the director of national intelligence wrote in 2021, Russian intelligence operatives and their proxies “sought to use prominent US persons and media conduits to launder their narratives to US officials and audiences. These Russian proxies met with and provided materials to Trump administration-linked US persons to advocate for formal investigations; hired a US firm to petition US officials; and attempted to make contact with several senior US officials. They also made contact with established US media figures.”

The opacity surrounding campaign donations, particularly through anonymous LLCs, further complicates efforts to trace illicit funding. Nevertheless, the pattern of financial transactions and political rhetoric paints a concerning picture, especially given the Trump administration’s reported overtures toward accommodating Russian interests in Ukraine.

Among the entities promoted by the Voice of Europe propaganda network was Hungary’s Center for Fundamental Rights, which “considers preserving national identity, sovereignty, and Judeo-Christian social traditions as its primary mission.” CFR is funded by the government of Viktor Orbán and has twice organized a conference in Budapest for the Conservative Political Action Committee, which helps shape policy on the American right. The Heritage Foundation—which has spearheaded Project 2025, the authoritarian blueprint for a future Republican administration—has become increasingly cozy with Hungary, and even hosted Orbán privately last month. It is quite possible, perhaps even likely, that some people who are on the Russian payroll were at the Heritage event, their role to influence and build support for pro-Russian policies.

We now have overwhelming evidence of vast pro-Russian influence operations throughout Europe that seek to exploit politicians, media personalities, and others—and some of these efforts have been successful. Here in the United States, while a pattern has emerged, we don’t know the full extent of the influence yet. But it would be foolish, not to mention dangerous, to think we are immune.

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