Posted on August 1, 2022

Russian Charged With Using US Groups to Spread Propaganda

Eric Tucker and Matt Schneider, Associated Press, July 29, 2022

A Russian operative under the supervision of one of the Kremlin’s main intelligence services has been charged with recruiting political groups in the United States to advance pro-Russia propaganda, including during the invasion of Ukraine, the Justice Department said Friday.

The indictment of Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov reflects what U.S. officials say are ongoing Russian government efforts to meddle in the American political process, to shape public opinion and to sow discord and dissent on hot-button social issues.

In this case, the authorities say, Ionov for roughly the last decade recruited political groups in Florida, Georgia and California and directed them to spread pro-Russia talking points. He also paid for group members to attend government-funded conferences in Russia, as well as a protest in the U.S. against social media efforts to suppress online support for Moscow’s Ukraine invasion, the indictment says.


The indictment does not identify by name any of the organizations Ionov recruited, but it does describe one of them as a St. Petersburg, Florida group whose leaders were aware that Ionov and his group were agents of a foreign government.

Prosecutors say Ionov in 2015 directed the group to write a petition alleging that the U.S. had committed genocide against African people in America, and to send it to the United Nations, the White House and to

The document, titled “Petition to the United Nations on the Crime of Genocide against African People in the United States,” notes America’s history of slavery and denial of civil rights for Black people. It argues the U.S. government still fails “to protect our health and well-being as expected under full citizenship” and inflicts “state or state-supported violence and terror on us.”

The petition, which is still available online, is labeled as being from the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement, a Black international socialist organization. Representatives from the group said the FBI raided their center in St. Petersburg on Friday.

Akile Anai, who describes herself as director of agitation and propaganda for the African People’s Socialist Party, said agents searched her car and took her cellphone and laptop computer on Friday in addition to raiding the Uhuru House.


Members of the Uhuru movement first met Ionov in Russia when they were invited to an anti-globalization conference {snip}

Officials alleged Friday that Ionov sought to inject himself into local politics in by supporting members of the group for office. In 2017, the group put forth candidates for mayor and city council, and again in 2019 for a city council race. The candidates lost. Any money the campaigns received outside the U.S. was returned, Anai said.

“Their premise is these were Russian campaigns. It’s a really insulting statement,” Anai said. “It was the Black community that ran the campaigns in our own interests. It’s an insulting notion that Black people can’t do anything for ourselves.”