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Ukrainian PM Denys Shmyhal, left, with his Polish counterpart, Donald Tusk, right, before talks in Warsaw today Alamy
european institutions

Poland raids Russian spy network targeting EU with propaganda and disinformation

The services said their operations were linked to charges against a Polish citizen suspected of spying for Russia.

POLISH SECURITY SERVICES have said that they raided a Russian spy network in cooperation with Czech intelligence, which a day earlier had busted a major Russian propaganda network.

The services said their operations were linked to charges filed earlier this year against a Polish citizen suspected of spying for Russia.

“The Internal Security Agency is conducting activities as part of an investigation into espionage activities for Russia directed against European Union countries and institutions,” agency spokesman Jacek Dobrzynski said on social media.

He added in a statement that the agency had carried out raids in the capital Warsaw and the southern city of Tychy and interrogations in connection with the case.

He said the spy network’s “goal was to implement the Kremlin’s foreign policy objectives, including weakening Poland’s position on the world stage, discrediting Ukraine as well as the image of EU organs”.

“The operations carried out are the result of the agency’s international cooperation with a number of European services, coordinated in particular with Czech partners.”

Dobrzynski added that the security agency’s operations began from an investigation that in January resulted in charges against a Polish citizen suspected of Russian espionage.

“The man, embedded in Polish and EU parliament circles, carried out tasks commissioned and financed by colleagues from Russian intelligence,” he said in the statement.

These tasks notably included “propaganda activity, disinformation as well as political provocation. Their objective was to build Russian spheres of influence in Europe.”

The security agency has not revealed the man’s identity.

‘Extensive’ Russian operations

The Czech Republic announced on Wednesday that it had busted a Moscow-financed network that spread Russian propaganda and wielded influence across Europe, including in the European Parliament.

Prague said the group used the Prague-based Voice of Europe news site to spread information seeking to discourage the European Union from sending aid to Ukraine, which has been battling a Russian invasion since February 2022.

The Czech government has added the Voice of Europe and two pro-Kremlin Ukrainian politicians – Viktor Medvedchuk and Artem Marchevsky – to its sanctions list in relation to the network’s activities.

The Denik N daily said the news site had published statements by politicians demanding the EU halt aid to Ukraine.

Some European politicians cooperating with the news site were paid from Russian funds that in some cases also covered their 2024 EU election campaign, the daily adds.

The payments targeted politicians from Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands and Poland, Denik N said, citing a Czech foreign ministry source.

Asked about the network, a spokeswoman for the German interior ministry said “this case is another example of Russia’s extensive and wide-ranging influence activities”.

“The Federal Republic of Germany also remains an important target of Russian influence operations,” she told AFP.

“The German security authorities will continue to use all available means and in cooperation with their foreign partners to investigate such influence operations and take measures to prevent them.”

 © AFP 2024

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