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Soviet Born Naturalized US Citizen Charged with Russian Influence Activities

March 9th, 2022 13:04

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.

Read the rest here.

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.