A Federal grand jury in Tampa indicts a Russian foreign agent for running a “brazen influence campaign, turning U.S. political groups and U.S. citizens into instruments of the Russian government,” according to the FBI.
Aleksandr Ionov set up his base of operations in St. Petersburg, Florida, and coordinated a campaign to influence U.S. politics. Federal prosecutors listed a laundry list of efforts to undermine U.S. cohesion. Including:
- Provided financial support for a Florida-based political group, on behalf of the FSB and, in turn, financially supported a candidate for St. Petersburg mayor;
- Coordinated and funded direct action by U.S. political groups to further Russian interests and coordinated coverage of these groups’ activities in Russian media outlets;
- Petitioned the United Nations, accusing the U.S. of genocide against African people;
- Arranged meetings with Russian FSB operatives and traveled to and from the country from Tampa for the meetings;
- Reported his progress back to specific FSB and Russian officials over the course of his seven-year campaign.
The US Attorney for the Middle District of Florida outlined the 24-page indictment, which was unsealed Friday morning. The charge says Ionov provided financial support for a Florida-based political group on behalf of the FSB.
According to the FBI, a Russian foreign agent spread false information and influenced city politics in St. Petersburg, Florida. He allegedly supported the Russian Olympic team and worked with unidentified political candidates to extend support for messaging about “reparations.”
In a video posted on Youtube by “The Burning Spear TV,” Alexander Ionov appears with members of the Uhuru Movement. Ionov claims to be the president of the Anti-globalization Movement of Russia.
The Uhuru group in St. Petersburg, Florida, parroted Russian talking points during the 2017 mayoral campaign. A secret agent encouraged members of the group to discuss “reparations.”
The African People’s Socialist Party leader defended and promoted Russia, saying the U.S. and other “world Colonial powers” had been collaborating against Russia well into the early 1900s.
The indictment leaves out the Uhuru name but says that UIC-2 caused US Political Group 1 to post a petition on Change.org and promote it on its own news website.
For more on this story, please consider these sources:
- FBI investigating Russian interference possibly linked to St. Petersburg Uhuru Movement Tampa Bay Times
- Russian National Charged With Spreading Propaganda Through U.S. Groups The New York Times
- Russian accused of influencing US political groups to interfere in elections is indicted CNN
- From Russia to Florida: FBI halts Russian agent’s 7-year influence campaign FOX 13 Tampa
- FBI Raids Florida Office Allegedly Used by Russia for Election Interference Newsweek