US media is reported last year that a Russian state-run news agency had hired a new Washington, DC production company to create radio and web content for its Sputnik multimedia platform. According to the Foreign Lobby report, the new production company is known as Ghebi and was incorporated by the editor of another production company working for Sputnik:
September 17, 2020 Russia’s state-run Rossiya Segodnya news agency has hired a new Washington, DC production company to create radio and web content for its Sputnik multimedia platform. The agency signed a year-long, $5.2 million contract in August with a limited liability company called Ghebi, according to a new lobbying disclosure under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Ghebi was incorporated last September by Mindia Gavasheli, the editor-in-chief of RIA Global, another US production company working for Sputnik. The only registered agent on the account is Christopher Pyburn, the managing director for RIA Global.Gavasheli and Pyburn did not respond to requests for comment about whether the new company was meant to replace or complement RIA Global. Last year RIA signed a $9.4 million contract with Rossiya Segodnya covering 2019 and 2020. According to the registration, Ghebi will distribute content on both Sputnik’s website and spreaker.com, a podcasting site. The company received a 30 % down payment of $1.56 million in August.
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According to his LinkedIn profile, from 2005–2014, Mindia Gavasheli held various positions at RT (fka as Russia Today). A 2020 NPR article identified Gavasheli as the D.C. bureau chief of Russian-backed Sputnik News and that:
..two years after Russian state media began radio broadcasts in Washington D.C, Radio Sputnik has made its way to Kansas City. Sputnik officials are negotiating to start broadcasting in other cities.
A preliminary examination of “Informational Materials” distributed by Ghebi and publicly filed as part of its FARA registration suggests, not surprisingly, that the content produced by Ghebi aligns closely with themes pushed by other Russian-back media such as the shortcoming of US vaccination efforts, charges of election fraud in there 2020 US election, and the alleged “deep state” ties of US President Biden.
In November 2020, the Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) reported that intelligence officials and analysts had concluded that Russia may be shifting the vehicle for its influence operations from the use of so-called troll farms and fake social media accounts to state-backed media. The post identifies Russian state-backed media outlets such as RT, Sputnik, TASS, and Izvestia TV as the most “prolific” of the above-mentioned media. In late October, the Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) reported on a study that described the themes propagated by Russian state-backed media as follows:
Russian state-backed media such as Russia Today, Sputnik, or TASS focused on four key themes: the sad state of U.S. political culture, criticism of the U.S. media, divisions in the Democratic party, and Trump’s refusal to condemn white supremacy. Also, the issue of Russian interference provided an opening to hammer the U.S. for its alleged “Russophobia.”
We also reported in November 2020 on a EUvsDisinfo project analysis reporting that Russian state-backed media has shifted to claiming that US democracy is an illusion, the election was fraudulent, and that the US has no right to lecture others about human rights or democracy.