A Russian national, and alleged FSB asset, Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov, has been charged with influencing U.S. political groups to act as illegal arms of the Russian government.
According to an indictment that was unsealed on Friday, Ionov allegedly operated a successful campaign from December 2014 until March 2022. His work was supervised by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) and approved by high levels of the Russian government.
What did he do? Ionov provided funding and media exposure to political groups located in the states of Georgia, California, and Florida.
“Ionov allegedly orchestrated a brazen influence campaign, turning U.S. political groups and U.S. citizens into instruments of the Russian government,” stated Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen in a Department of Justice press release. “The Department of Justice will not allow Russia to unlawfully sow division and spread misinformation inside the United States.”
One of Ionov’s targets was the Uhuru Movement. The Uhuru Movement is a black political group that is part of the African Peoples Socialist Party. The group sponsored by Russia, participated in protests alongside Black Lives Matter. The Uhuru Movement was in conflict with most other black political movements and viewed them as too moderate.
The Department of Justice doesn’t name The Uhuru Movement in its press release. The movement itself claims to be an urban and African American political movement. Acting on Ionov’s advice the group submitted a petition to the United Nations charging the American government with the “crime of genocide against African people in the United States.” That petition received over 100,000 signatures.
Ionov is alleged to have exerted control over groups under his influence, relaying his progress to FSB handlers. He then used campaign funding to take similar control over candidates for local offices.