The Department of Justice (DOJ) has charged Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov, a resident of Moscow, with allegedly orchestrating a “foreign malign influence campaign” in the United States.
Ionov, who was working on behalf of the Russian government and in conjunction with the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), pushed the influence campaign for several years through various political groups in America, a July 29 DOJ press release states. Through the campaign, the Russian national attempted to spread pro-Russian propaganda, sow discord, and interfere in the U.S. elections. The indictment alleges the influence campaign to have been carried out between December 2014 and March 2022.
Ionov’s campaign against the United States was assisted by at least three Russian officials. He is the founder of Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia (AGMR), a Russian government-funded organization with headquarters in Moscow. Ionov utilized funds from AGMR for the influence campaign.
Working under the supervision of the FSB, Ionov is accused of recruiting U.S. political groups in states like California, Florida, Georgia, and so on.
In January 2016, Ionov funded a protest by the Florida U.S. political group in support of a “Petition on Crime of Genocide against African People in the United States” in four cities. The political group had earlier submitted the petition to the U.N. at Ionov’s direction.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Ionov participated in a video conference hosted by the Florida political group. During the conference, he falsely claimed that people supporting Ukraine were also supporting white supremacy and Nazism, according to the DOJ report.
Charged with conspiring to have U.S. citizens act as illegal agents of the Russian government, Ionov faces a maximum prison term of five years if convicted.
On July 29, the U.S. Treasury also announced sanctions against Ionov together with another individual and four entities accused of supporting “the Kremlin’s global malign influence operations and election interference activities.”
In 2022, Ionov collaborated with Russian oligarch Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin’s Foundation for Battling Injustice (FBR) about potentially directly supporting a candidate in the 2022 U.S. gubernatorial election, the department said in a press release.
AGMR is found to have received funds from the National Charity Fund which was created by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The fund collects money from Russian oligarchs and state-owned companies.
Due to the Treasury sanctions, Ionov’s properties and interests in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons will be blocked. Individuals or entities engaging in transactions with Ionov may also expose themselves to sanctions, the department warned.
“The Kremlin has repeatedly sought to threaten and undermine our democratic processes and institutions. The United States will continue our extensive work to counter these efforts and safeguard our democracy from Russia’s interference,” Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson in the release.