UK media is reporting that the US has charged a Russian man with orchestrating a multi-year effort to use political groups to sow discord, spread Russian propaganda or interfere in American elections. According to a Reuters report:
July 29, 2022 The U.S. Justice Department said on Friday it has charged a Russian man with orchestrating a multi-year effort to use political groups in Florida, Georgia and California to sow discord, spread Russian propaganda or interfere in American elections. Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov, a Moscow resident, was accused of conspiring to have U.S. citizens act as illegal agents of the Russian government, according to a department statement. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison. Acting on behalf of the FSB Russian intelligence agency, the department said Ionov financially supported the groups, ordered them to publish pro-Russian propaganda and coordinated actions by them intended to further Russian interests. The department also said Ionov used his control over a U.S. political group in Florida to interfere in local elections, supporting the St. Petersburg, Florida political campaigns of two people in 2017 and 2019. It listed the group and individuals as “unindicted co-conspirators” but did not name them.
Read the rest here.
The report also says the US Treasury has designated four entities that “support the Kremlin’s global malign influence operations and election interference activities.” A US Treasury press release identifies the following entities:
- The Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia, founded by Ionov and “maintained connections with separatists and anti-establishment groups in the United States and abroad.”
- Ionov Transkontinental, also founded by Ionov and which “has a footprint in Iran, Venezuela, and Lebanon.”
- STOP-Imperialism, an English and Russian-language website used by Ionov “as a means of further disseminating disinformation in fulfillment of the Kremlin’s overall malign influence campaign.”
- The Center for Support and Development of Public Initiative Creative Diplomacy directed and funded by Russia’s intelligence services.
The Global Influence Operations Report has extensively covered US sanctions of Russia-linked disinformation entities, including the sanctioning of 32 Russian entities and individuals for disinformation efforts in April 2021 and the sanctioning of another 33 individuals and seven entities associated with Russia’s global disinformation campaign in March 2022.
Russia is a prolific actor in the influence operations space. It is well known for its attempts to interfere in the elections of democratic countries, particularly in the United States. Most of its influence operations appear to be conducted via cyber activities.