DOJ indicts Russian national in scheme to recruit U.S. citizens to spread pro-Russian propaganda
The announcement alleges that Ionov coordinated with the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) to recruit and direct three American political groups
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The Department of Justice on Friday announced the indictment of a Russian national for allegedly orchestrating a scheme to recruit U.S. political groups to spread pro-Russian propaganda.
Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov "allegedly orchestrated a brazen influence campaign, turning U.S. political groups and U.S. citizens into instruments of the Russian government,” Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen said in a press release.
The announcement alleges that Ionov coordinated with the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) to recruit and direct three American political groups based in Florida, Georgia, and California.
"Specifically, Ionov provided financial support to these groups, directed them to publish pro-Russian propaganda, coordinated and funded direct action by these groups within the United States intended to further Russian interests, and coordinated coverage of this activity in Russian media outlets," according to the DOJ. "Ionov also relayed detailed information about this influence campaign to three FSB officials."
Ionov's efforts ranged from consulting on political campaigns to pushing Moscow's talking points on the war in Ukraine. A report he made to the FSB said he "had enlisted U.S. [one of the groups] to support Russia in the 'information war unleashed' by the West."
The announcement did not identify the political groups or the candidates with whom Ionov allegedly worked. Law enforcement connected to the case warned of the dangers the campaign posed to the United States and vowed to root out similar efforts in the future.
“The impact of Russian malign foreign influence cannot be overstated,” FBI Criminal Investigative Division Assistant Director Luis Quesada said. “The FBI will aggressively pursue any foreign government that attempts to divide American citizens and poison our democratic process.”