US media is reporting that a naturalized US citizen has been charged with violating the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) in connection with her influence activities in the US on behalf of the Russian government. According to the Newsweek report, prosecutors charged that Soviet-born Elena Branson established a “Russian propaganda center” in New York City:
March 9, 2022 A complaint charging Elena Branson, a dual Russian-American national, with acting and conspiring to act in the United States illegally as an unregistered Russian agent was unsealed by a New York federal court on Tuesday. She is also accused of corresponding directly with Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of opening a Russian cultural organization in New York. Branson, 61, allegedly received thousands of dollars from the Russian government to run the Russian Center New York, which she founded in 2012, a statement from the U. S. Justice Department said. Prosecutors described the organization as “a propaganda center” that served the interests of the Russian government. One of its main campaigns was called “I love Russia.” It promoted Russian history and culture, and was aimed at young Americans. Prosecutors allege that campaigns like “I love Russia” exemplify Branson’s attempts “to act at the behest of the Russian government to illegally promote its interests in the United States”. The 61-year-old is alleged to have corresponded directly with Putin and met with a high-ranking Russian minister before founding the Russian Center New York. The Russian Center New York lobbied Hawaiian officials not to change the name of a formerly Russian fort on the island of Kauai. It also arranged a trip for Hawaiian officials to meet with Russian counterparts in Moscow, prosecutors said.
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In January, the Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) reported that a convicted Russian influence agent with strong ties to the Republican Party and Donald Trump had become a member of the Russian parliament.
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