The Albanian Democratic Party (PD) received some $500,000 in 2017 from Russia, according to sources who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity, but ex-chairman Lulzim Basha has denied the claims.
A US State Department cable published on Tuesday found that Russia spent at least $300 million on bankrolling foreign political parties and candidates since 2014 in an attempt to influence the course of world politics.
This money was used to try and buy influence and power in up to two dozen countries. A source told AFP that the Democratic Party was amongst them, along with parties in Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In a Tweet posted shortly after the news broke, Basha said that DP had not received any foreign funding, much less from Russia.
“We are proud of the steadfast partnership with our strategic ally, the USA, and determined to move forward alongside our Euro-Atlantic allies for the consolidation of Western values and the full integration of Albania into the EU,” wrote Basha.
Basha also emphasised that when such claims circulated in some media at the time, the PD officially asked the judiciary to investigate these accusations and fully cooperated with the justice system, which ultimately rejected any claims of foreign funding.
In 2018, it was reported by Mother Jones that a Scottish company with links to Russia, Biniatta Trade, paid a US Republican lobbyist to help the PD.
The PD confirmed a contract with former Trump campaign aid, Nick Muzin but said they paid no more than $25,000 for his services.
But the PD adamantly denied the claims and accused the ruling Socialist Party (PS) of staging a smear campaign, something the PS refutes.
Both parties have repeatedly failed to declare the full amount of campaign funding, leaving the public with little information on who funds rallies and events during the run-up to election time.
Prior to the 2017 general election, won by the PS, the Albanian Institute of Political Studies sounded the alarm that the total amount spent and declared was likely to be many times less than what was actually used.
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