Washington (CNN)The Trump administration on Monday slapped sanctions on a key ally of President Vladimir Putin for attempting to influence the 2018 US midterm elections.

The US government also took the additional step of putting limits on Priogzhin’s assets — including three aircraft and a yacht — as well as on six employees of the agency he finances to increase pressure.

“The Treasury Department is also imposing sanctions on six members of the Internet Research Agency for their efforts in furthering the objectives of the organization. As of 2018, Dzheykhun Nasimi Ogly Aslanov (Aslanov), Mikhail Leonidovich Burchik (Burchik), Vadim Vladimirovich Podkopaev (Podkopaev), Vladimir Dmitriyevich Venkov (Venkov), Igor Vladimirovich Nesterov (Nesterov), and Denis Igorevich Kuzmin (Kuzmin) were all members of the Internet Research Agency involved in attempting to interfere in U.S. elections,” according to a Treasury press release.

    “Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of American democracy, and we will use our authorities against anyone seeking to undermine our processes and subversively influence voters,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a statement. “This Administration will work tirelessly to safeguard our electoral process, and will aggressively pursue any other foreign actor that attempts to interfere in the 2020 elections.”

    Priogzhin had previously been indicted by the US in case involving a troll factory that spearheaded Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 election.

    Prigozhin has a colorful past.

    He spent nine years in prison in the 1980s for fraud and robbery, according to Russian media reports. After his release, he went into the catering business — renovating a boat and opening New Island, one of a half-dozen upscale restaurants he owns in St. Petersburg. Putin turned to him to cater his birthday parties as well as dinners with visiting leaders. A headline in The Moscow Times referred to Prigozhin as Putin’s “Personal Chef.”

      In 2002, he served caviar and truffles to President George W. Bush during a summit in St. Petersburg. Before that, he renovated a boat that became the city’s most exclusive restaurant.

      This story is breaking and will be updated.

      Source: http://edition.cnn.com/


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