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US citizen indicted on charges of Crimea-related sanction violations

US citizen indicted on charges of Crimea-related sanction violations

7.03.2022 | M. Tyler Gillett | U. Pittsburgh School of Law, US MARCH 4, 2022 02:00:29 PM | 1373

A US federal district court Thursday unsealed the first ever criminal indictment involving a violation of sanctions stemming from the 2014 Russian interference in democratic processes in Ukraine.

The indictment alleges that John Hanick, a US citizen, violated sanctions and made false statements in connection with his work for Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev. Malofeyev was sanctioned under Executive Order 13660, which declared a national emergency in relation to the then-situation in Ukraine. Under the order, individuals responsible for or complicit in the undermining of the peace, security and sovereignty of Ukraine would have their US property blocked. In 2014, the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) found Malofeyev was a source of financing for Russian separatism in Crimea and provided material support for the Donetsk People’s Republic, a Russian separatist organization in the Donetsk region of Ukraine.

According to the indictment, Hanick worked for Malofeyev from about 2013 to 2017, assisting him with plans to create a new Russian cable television news network, the Russian TV Network. The network went on the air in Russia in 2015, and Hanick took on a leadership role. He also worked at Malofeyev’s direction to start a Greek network and to acquire a Bulgarian network. These were characterized as projects to further a Russian point of view in Greece and Bulgaria.

In February 2021 during an interview with the FBI, Hanick made false statements regarding his relationship with Malofeyev, including that Malofeyev had no involvement with Hanick’s travel to Bulgaria and that he had no knowledge of Malofeyev’s involvement in trying to acquire the Bulgarian network until afterward. Hanick is charged with violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which carries a potential penalty of twenty years in prison, and making false statements, which has a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

“The Justice Department will do everything it can to stamp out Russian aggression and interference,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen. He continued that the Justice Department would work “to hold accountable actors who would support flagrant and unjustified acts of war.” The FBI’s New York Field Office released a statement saying that the legal action against Hanick “should serve as an example to all that we will use all the resources at our disposal to aggressively enforce our nation’s sanctions.”

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