A bipartisan group of U.S. senators today introduced a bill Tuesday that would increase sanctions against Russia, VOA reports.
The sanctions bill, dubbed the “Countering Russian Hostilities Act of 2017,” would impose visa bans and freeze the assets of “those who undermine the cybersecurity of public or private infrastructure and democratic institutions,” POLITICO adds. It would also impose sanctions on transactions with the Russian defense and intelligence sectors, potentially making it harder for banks to do business with the Russian military and spy agencies.
Europe and Eurasia Democracy and Anti-Corruption Fund
“Russia has sought to exert influence throughout Europe and Eurasia by overtly and covertly providing resources to political parties, think tanks, and civil society groups that sow distrust in democratic institutions, promote xenophobic and illiberal views,” the bill states. “The Russian government has also engaged in well-documented corruption practices as a means toward undermining and buying influence in these European countries. This bill would support programs that build the resilience of democratic institutions in Europe against Russian aggression exerted through corruption, propaganda and other forms of political interference,” it adds:
The State Department, Global Engagement Center and USAID are mandated to provide support for programming to:
- improve democratic governance, transparency, accountability, rule of law, and combat corruption, including by strengthening democratic civil society and political parties, and independent and nonpartisan think tanks;
- support the efforts of independent media outlets and public broadcasters to broadcast, distribute, and share information in all regions;
- support objective, Russian-language, independent media, investigative journalism, and civil society watchdog groups working to combat corruption;
- promote and protect Internet freedom;
- support, as appropriate, the operations and activities of national anti-corruption and auditing offices;
- support programs that strengthen independent judiciaries and prosecutor general offices;
- strengthen cybersecurity practices of governments and civil society organizations;
- support research and analysis on the effects of information warfare on target audiences and best practices for promoting resilience;
- support evidence-based civic education and advocacy programs to strengthen resilience to misinformation;
- encourage cooperation with social media companies to strengthen the integrity of information on the Internet; and
- support programs to counter “fake news”.
- The bill would authorize $100 million for these activities.
- The bill mandates that the Secretary of Homeland Security conduct a series of public service campaigns to educate the public on threats to cybersecurity and urging better online practices to ensure better protection of online information.