Derkach has previously denied trying to interfere in the US election, calling it “nonsense” in a statement to POLITICO earlier this summer. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the sanctions designation.
But Treasury’s announcement underscores growing evidence that Russia is mounting a similar campaign to its efforts in 2016 in an attempt to boost Trump’s candidacy and damage his rival. Trump administration intelligence officials have concluded that Russia is seeking to damage Biden and support Trump through actors like Derkach.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin called the sanctions decision an effort to “counter these Russian disinformation campaigns and uphold the integrity of our election system.”
“Andrii Derkach and other Russian agents employ manipulation and deceit to attempt to influence elections in the United States and elsewhere around the world,” Mnuchin said.
In his earlier statement, Derkach denounced efforts “to tie me to the special services of other countries,” like Russia, and said his critics were trying to discredit him by drawing attention to his studies at Moscow’s FSB academy, formerly known as the Dzerzhinsky Higher School of the KGB.
Derkach’s father, Leonid, was a KGB operative for decades before becoming the head of Ukraine’s security services; he was fired in 2004 over his alleged involvement in a murder plot.
“The main purpose of our activity is pursuing the interests of Ukraine, exposing international corruption, [and] maintaining partnership relations between strategic partners – Ukraine and the USA,” Derkach said at the time. He hired lobbyists earlier this year to set up meetings for him with White House officials and members of the Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs committees
Derkach has since alleged that his visa was revoked, and his lobbyists dropped him as a client last month. One of the lobbyists told POLITICO that they have been cooperating with U.S. law enforcement.
Democrats have raised alarms about evidence that Derkach has disseminated packets of anti-Biden information to Republican lawmakers investigating Biden’s role in Ukraine, worrying that he was seeding disinformation into ongoing congressional probes.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, led by GOP Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, has been investigating Hunter Biden’s work on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. Though Johnson has sharply denied the suggestion that Derkach has supplied the committee with any information, Democrats have accused him of amplifying discredited allegations that have originated from pro-Russia factions in Ukraine.
Derkach has also promoted leaked audio recordings of Biden’s conversations with Ukrainian leaders when he was leading the Obama administration’s diplomatic and anti-corruption efforts in the country. Trump has amplified awareness of the tapes on his Twitter feed, promoting coverage of them by pro-Trump TV station OANN, which has dedicated significant airtime to the leaked tapes.