In September, the Southern Poverty Law Center published a profile of Charles Bausman, a US Capitol insurrectionist known for producing Russia Insider, a publication described as “infused with overtly fascist and antisemitic content.” According to the SPLC Hatewatch report:
September 1, 2022 Russia Insider founder Charles Bausman traveled from his home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to Washington, D. C., on Jan. 6, and video appears to show him among the insurrectionists that breached the building’s walls. Soon after, he left the country for Moscow. Bausman, 57, is an American man known for producing the pro-Kremlin website Russia Insider, which he has in recent years infused with overtly fascist and antisemitic content. He mystifies not only researchers of the far right, who struggle to understand his objectives or his funding, but also his own family. Bausman’s older sister, Mary Watkins, who says she loves her brother but opposes his fascist politics, told Hatewatch she watched online as his wife, Kristina Bausman, originally from the rural community of Mednogorsk, Russia, posted a video to Facebook of what looked to her like a live scene from the Trump rally that descended into violence. Charles Bausman of Russia Insider appears at a 2015 RT conference in Moscow. “I messaged her as everything was happening and said, ‘You’re not there, are you?’ She said, ‘No, no, we’re here in Lancaster,’” Watkins recalled of Jan. 6. Hatewatch launched this investigation in January after an anonymous tipster alleged to us that Bausman “fled the country” after traveling to Washington, D. C., for the fateful Trump event. Hatewatch then visited Bausman’s home in Lancaster twice in March and interviewed more than a dozen of his neighbors but found no trace of him. Neighbors told Hatewatch that Bausman moved into their community in 2018, shortly after relocating from Russia. He promoted hard-right causes, including the anti-lockdown protests during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. He involved himself in #StoptheSteal activism perpetuating the lie of a stolen election alongside others in the far right, such as members of the gun-worshipping Unification Church cult. He hyped the Jan. 6 event on social media. Then he seemed to disappear from Lancaster, leaving his 2020 Christmas lights and a Betsy Ross-style American flag dangling from his porch.
The SPLC report goes on to confirm that Bausman left the US for Russia following the Capitol insurrection and after translating three Russian television appearances he made. The report cites his appeal to Trump supporters to become part of the Global National Conservative Alliance:
“America is awake now,” Bausman said in Russian on one program that aired in the immediate aftermath of the insurrection, referring to the willingness of Trump supporters to embrace Russia as an ally in a shared struggle. Russia “now has the chance to build big bridges with half of the United States,” Bausman also boasted. He described the U.S. as being irrevocably divided following Biden’s election.
The SPLC report also takes up the issue of Bausman’s finances, at one point amounting to over $700,000 in a savings account, and points to a company in Cyprus, a country known in the past as a source for Russian funds. The SPLC also details how Bausman in 2015 sought funding from Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev (aka Konstantin Malofeyev):
The Interpreter, an online journal that produces translations and analysis related to Russia, published emails in 2015 showing Bausman asking for money through an associate of pro-Kremlin Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev. Like Bausman, Malofeev views himself as a promoter of the Russian Orthodox faith, and he is known for his far-right political views and ties to anti-LGBTQ hate.
Although his sister says Bausman privately denied Russian funding, no other plausible source of funds that large was identified. The Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) reported last week on Malofeyev and his role in sponsoring new Russian anti-gay legislation, enhancing a 2013 law that bans exposing minors to “gay propaganda.” GIOR also reported the same week that Malofeyev had reportedly chosen one of two MEPs from Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National party to participate in a secret project called “AltIntern,” intended to promote values such as “Christendom as the foundation of life” and marriage as “the union of a man and a woman.“In March 2022, we reported on leaked emails and documents showing how a Russian influence group known as Tsargrad cooperated with senior far-right politicians in Italy, France, Germany, and Austria. As that post detailed is funded by Malofeyev, known by US intelligence as the Russian President’s “right arm for operations of political interference in Europe,” and designated by the US in 2014 over his interference in Ukraine. Malofeyev is also known for his role in funding European anti-abortion, anti-LGBTIQ initiatives. According to a recent profile:
Malofeyev gained his wealth in telecommunications during the late 2000s. He has used his power to wage an information war on Europe, allegedly providing loans to far-right parties and funding anti-abortion, anti-LGBTIQ initiatives in the region. His influence empire includes the Katehon think-tank which regularly platforms far-right authors and is “considered one of the instruments for Russian interference in the West”. The US State Department describes Katehon as “a proliferator of virulent anti-Western disinformation and propaganda”. Tsargrad TV is the public entertainment face of Katehon. Dubbed by the Financial Times as “God’s TV, Russian style”, the channel was deliberately designed to mimic Fox News and judge political candidates’ views on issues such as religion, abortion, LGBTIQ rights and Putin.
The SPLC report cites comments by a US academic explaining how the Bausman case illustrates what she calls Russia’s “ideological entrepreneurship:”
Political scientist Marlene Laruelle of George Washington University, an expert on Russia and its influence on far-right nationalist movements worldwide, previously told Hatewatch in the context of understanding Bausman’s motives that Russia’s influence on foreign extremists sometimes manifests in a decentralized way, which she described as “ideological entrepreneurship.” She continued: Each ideological entrepreneur has his own portfolio and is put in competition with others; nothing is secured or guaranteed. They create new networks and platforms that may be later approved or disapproved by the Kremlin. This is a largely decentralized process: The centralization only comes later, post-factum – if successful.
Read the full SPLC report here.
Russia Insider here (WARNING: extremist content)