Belgium raids EU lawmaker aide's home, offices on Russia propaganda suspicions

Reuters:  Belgian investigators searched the home and offices of an assistant at the European Parliament on Wednesday, who prosecutors say may have played a role in spreading Russian propaganda ahead of an election for the EU assembly.

Investigators searched the assistant's residence in Brussels, as well as his office at the European Parliament there, federal prosecutors said, while French judicial authorities searched his office at the European Union's assembly in Strasbourg.

Prosecutors said the searches were part of an investigation into possible Russian interference whereby members of the European Parliament were approached and paid to promote Russian propaganda via the Voice of Europe news website.

"There are indications that the European Parliament employee concerned played a significant role in this," prosecutors said in a statement.

The prosecutors did not name the employee, or the lawmaker for whom the person worked.

The European Parliament said it could not comment on an ongoing investigation.

"When and if requested to, the European Parliament fully cooperates with law enforcement and judicial authorities to assist the course of justice and will continue to do so. It is this context that access to an office was provided," a parliamentary spokesperson said.

Voters in the 27 countries of the European Union will go to the polls to elect 720 lawmakers to the European Parliament on June 6-9. Mainstream groups say voters are likely to be bombarded with lies and disinformation.

The European Union has imposed sanctions on Czech-registered Voice of Europe and two businessmen connected to it. The Council of the EU said the Voice of Europe and its social media accounts actively spread disinformation on Ukraine and promoted "pro-Kremlin false narratives".

Voice of Europe has said in an unsigned article on its website that it "categorically rejected" the EU action.

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