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US senators seek tough sanctions to deter Russian election meddling

Sen. Marco Rubio (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
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This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

U.S. Republican and Democratic senators have introduced legislation threatening tough sanctions to discourage Russia from meddling in U.S. elections, Reuters reports.

The Deter Act is intended to sanction Russia’s banking, energy, and defense industries, and sovereign debt for election interference.

The legislation was introduced on April 3 by Senators Chris Van Hollen (Democrat-Maryland) and Marco Rubio (Republican-Florida).

The two legislators offered a similar bipartisan measure last year, which was never brought up for a vote by the Senate’s Republican leaders, who have close ties to President Donald Trump.

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Such an approach is thought to have better prospects this year, because control of the House of Representatives is in the hands of Democrats.

Reuters reports that the measure would require the U.S. Director of National Intelligence to determine, within 30 days of any federal election, if Russia or other foreign actors had engaged in election interference.

If such interference is detected, the act would require that mandatory sanctions be imposed within 10 days on Russian banks and energy companies among others.

The act would provide for sanctions to be imposed on two or more of the following Russian banks: Sberbank, VTB Bank, Gazprombank, Vnesheconombank, and Rosselkhozbank.

It also would ban all transactions subject to U.S. jurisdiction in Russian sovereign debt, Russian government bonds, and the debt of any entity owned or controlled by Russia’s government.

Moscow has denied trying to influence U.S. elections. But U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies have established that Moscow sought to interfere with the 2016 poll to boost Trump’s chances of winning the White House.

The Deter Act is aimed at Russia but notes that China, Iran, and North Korea are other major foreign government cyberthreats.

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