Federal prosecutors have charged a Russian national with using U.S. political groups to advance pro-Russian propaganda and interfere in elections.
According to an indictment unsealed Friday in Tampa, Florida, Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov and at least three Russian officials engaged in a foreign malign influence campaign targeting the United States from at least December 2014 until March 2022, the Justice Department said in a news release on Friday.
“As court documents show, Ionov allegedly orchestrated a brazen influence campaign, turning U.S. political groups and U.S. citizens into instruments of the Russian government,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division in the news release. “The Department of Justice will not allow Russia to unlawfully sow division and spread misinformation inside the United States.”
Prosecutors allege that Ionov recruited U.S. political groups in Florida, Georgia, and California on behalf of the Russian Federal Security Service by exercising direction or control over them, according to an indictment.
"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," prosecutors allege in the indictment.