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Russian State-Run News Agency Hires Washington Production Company Run By Russian Influence Operative

January 21st, 2021 15:16

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.

Read there rest here.

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.