The European Parliament is “looking into allegations” that some of its members were paid by a Russian propaganda network foiled earlier this week by Czech authorities, its press services confirmed to Euronews.

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It comes after Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said on Thursday that “Russia had approached EU lawmakers” and paid them to “promote Russian propaganda” in Europe, as part of an operation uncovered in a Czech investigation.

The Parliament’s services were unable to confirm how many MEPs could be under scrutiny, but said on Friday it was working “in coordination with its institutional partners” in response to the explosive allegations.

In a letter addressed to the president of the Parliament Roberta Metsola, the chief of the centrist Renew Europe group, Valérie Hayer, describes the allegations as a “clear attack” on the parliament and its “democratic mandate.”

“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 said.

It comes just over two months before EU voters head to the polls to elect 720 members to the European Parliament, and amid mounting fears Kremlin proxies could be using information manipulation to skew the democratic vote.

The Greens group in the parliament also weighed in, asking for a “swift and thorough” investigation into election candidates “on Putin’s payroll.”

“The politicians who have received money from Russia should be severely punished, both politically and legally,” Terry Reintke, one of the Greens’ lead candidates for the upcoming election, said.

MEP Maximilian Krah of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), has **spoken out on X**after being associated with Voice of Europe, the news company through which the Russian operation has been channelled, according to the Czech investigation.

Krah asserted he had given just two interviews to Voice of Europe over the past two years.

“There is no specific allegation that I was paid for any of these,” Krah said. “This shows what to think of the current campaign: Nothing!”

Speaking during a debate on foreign interference in the Belgian parliament on Thursday, De Croo confirmed that Belgian intelligence services had been made aware of the allegations regarding MEPs by the Czech secret services. 

According to Czech media citing officials from intelligence services, the allegations involve politicians from Germany, France, Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands and Hungary.

At the heart of the operation busted by the Czech authorities was the news company Voice of Europe, which has been sanctioned by the Czech Republic along with two individuals.

One of the individuals sanctioned in the Czech Republic is pro-Kremlin Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk, who according to the Czech foreign ministry had used Voice of Europe to spread propaganda aimed at undermining the “territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence” of Ukraine.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said that the uncovered operation aimed to destabilise the whole of Europe, and revealed other European countries had instigated investigations as the result of Czech efforts.

Poland’s Internal Security Agency said on Thursday it was also carrying out searches in its capital Warsaw and the city of Tychy as part of a joint investigation “coordinated” with other European countries.

Speaking from New York on Thursday evening, European Commission vice-president Věra Jourová confirmed that more accusations could soon result from the Polish investigation, and accused Putin of using “dodgy outlets” to pedal influence and “domestic parties” as his mouthpiece.

Voice of Europe at heart of allegations

The outlet at the heart of the investigations is Voice of Europe, a Dutch-listed company with its official headquarters in a small village in the province of North Brabant. 

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The company claims on its social media channels to provide “uncensored news from Europe and the world.” As recently as 11 days ago, it hosted a debate at the European Parliament in Strasbourg during a plenary session, hosting sitting MEPs from Spain’s Vox, and the Netherlands’ far-right Forum for Democracy.

The company’s website has been down since Wednesday evening, website archives suggest. While its X, Facebook and YouTube accounts have been inactive since March 27, its Telegram account is still active.

But its content clearly shows that it had full access to the parliament and its members. Its social media videos feature a string of MEPs, predominantly from the far-right Identity and Democracy (ID) group or non-attached members.

Renew Europe’s Hayer calls in her letter to Metsola for Voice of Europe’s access to the European Parliament premises to be suspended, and for the bloc to follow the Czech Republic in slapping EU-wide sanctions on the company.

The other parliamentary groups and the parliament’s president are yet to comment on the allegations.

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