MEPs call for ‘urgent’ debate into Russian influence scandal

Allegations that Moscow paid members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to interfere in the upcoming European election must be investigated, according to Liberals and Greens in Parliament.

The Czech government on Wednesday sanctioned the news site Voice of Europe, saying it was part of a pro-Russian influence operation. Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo came out Thursday saying Russia had approached MEPs and “paid [them], to promote Russian propaganda.”

In response, the president of the liberal Renew group, Valérie Hayer — who is also French President Emmanuel Macron’s top candidate for the European Union election — called for an “urgent debate” in Parliament in a letter to its President Roberta Metsola.

This debate should take place at the next plenary session, on April 10 in Brussels. “If sitting MEPs or candidates in the upcoming European elections have taken money from or been corrupted by the Russian Government or their proxies, they must be exposed,” Hayer wrote in the letter.

Dutch Green EU lawmaker Bas Eickhout also called for an investigation into candidates standing for the European election.

“The European elections are in 10 weeks’ time. We need to be sure that none of the candidates for these elections are being paid by Russians,” he said in a statement. 

The Parliament’s two largest political groups, the European People’s Party and the Socialists and Democrats, have barely commented on the allegations. A spokesperson for Metsola, who hails from the EPP, said: “The president is aware of the allegations being made and is looking into specific allegations.”

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