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Russian legal foundation working in EU is actually 'Kremlin influence operation,' Guardian says

by Nate Ostiller June 3, 2024 4:42 PM 2 min read
Convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout (R) walks past temporary cells ahead of a hearing at the Criminal Court in Bangkok on Aug. 20, 2010. (Christophe Archambault/AFP via Getty Images)
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Leaked documents from the Russian Fund for Support and Protection of the Rights of Compatriots Living Abroad (Pravfond) show that the purported legal foundation is actually a Kremlin-linked disinformation outlet, the Guardian and other media outlets reported on June 2.

Pravfond describes its goal as providing "Russian compatriots with comprehensive legal and other necessary support in cases of violation of their rights, freedoms, and legitimate interests."

The foundation was created in 2012 with the support of Russia's Foreign Ministry.

According to the leaked documents, Pravfond helped pay legal fees for convicted Russian arms smuggler Viktor Bout and assassin Vadim Krasikov, who is currently serving a prison sentence in Germany for the murder of a Georgian-Chechen dissident in 2019.

Pravfond also reportedly employs several former Russian intelligence operatives and has spent millions of dollars on disinformation campaigns in almost 50 countries in Europe and the rest of the world.

Estonia's security service characterized Pravfond in 2020 as a "pseudo legal protection system" that "in reality is an influence operations fund."

The "news" section on Pravfond's website contains a number of articles echoing typical Russian propaganda talking points, such as an item published on June 3 about the opening of a new exhibition about so-called "Russophobia" in Finland.

The Guardian said that Pravfond did not respond to a request for comment.

Bloomberg: Russia uses TikTok content to undermine Ukrainian leadership, Kyiv says
“Russia is dominating us on TikTok due to the scale” of its operation, said Andrii Kovalenko, the head of a department countering disinformation at the National Security and Defense Council.

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