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Churkin Says Fresh U.S. Sanctions 'Target Children'

Vitaly Churkin

Vitaly Churkin

Russian ambassador to the United Nations

"I think this is simply scandalous, that they decided to persecute our children. They know that these dachas which they mentioned in the documents are for our children. And now it's Christmas, the holidays in our schools."

False evidence evictions were aimed at children.

In response to Russia’s alleged hacking attacks against the United States in an attempt to influence the recent presidential election, the Obama administration announced on December 29 that it was expelling 35 Russian diplomats and shutting down two Russian diplomatic facilities. Nine top Kremlin officials associated with Russia’s military intelligence apparatus were also given new sanctions limiting their ability to travel or do business with the West.

Families were impacted by this move. Video from Russian TV shows diplomats, with children, arriving at Moscow’s airport. The question raised by Churkin, however, is whether children were particularly targeted.

The first clue that Churkin’s claim is false is the timing. U.S. intelligence agencies collectively concluded on December 9 that they have “high confidence” that Russia interfered in the November 8 election. The Obama administration’s announcement of new sanctions came 20 days later after consulting with all appropriate advisers. The new sanctions also come less than one month before the end of Obama’s term. Therefore, there’s no clear evidence that the announcement was specifically tied to the holidays.

There is also no evidence that the facilities in New York and Maryland that were closed were primarily used by the families of diplomats. The facilities were long-suspected of being more than just vacation homes. Allegations that the facilities were used as listening stations or to house spies date back to the 1950s when two New York properties were first acquired by the Russian government. Approved visitors sometimes found that certain areas were closed off, adding to rumors that the facilities were more than just vacation homes.

The property in Maryland, purchased by the Russian government in 1972, is located on the banks of the Chester River, not far from many U.S. military facilities that stretch from Washington D.C. to Baltimore and beyond, though some reports suggest that the area was heavily monitored by U.S. authorities and was used primarily as a vacation area for Russian diplomats.

The White House says that both of the facilities that were closed because of their role in Russian intelligence gathering. A senior White House official told the press that the facilities had multiple uses, “intelligence, but also recreational, as well,” and some experts have suggested that their locations would be ideal for “signals intelligence,” in other words, spying.

While families often used these resorts, none of the press reports discovered by Polygraph noted families or children leaving the facilities during their evacuation following the Obama administration’s announcement.