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US announces new charges against 4 Americans, 3 Russians for ‘malign influence campaign’

by The Kyiv Independent news desk April 19, 2023 5:14 AM 1 min read
The Department of Justice building in Washington, DC, on February 9, 2022. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds / AFP)
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The U.S. Justice Department announced additional charges on April 18 against four Americans and three Russians for partaking in a “multi-year campaign of harmful foreign influence in the United States” allegedly to further Russian interests.

The fresh indictment alleges that Moscow resident Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov, along with Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officers Aleksey Borisovich Sukhodolov and Yegor Sergeyevich Popov “recruited, funded and directed U.S. political groups to act as unregistered illegal agents of the Russian government and sow discord and spread pro-Russian propaganda.”

The Justice Department also said that the two indicted intelligence officers “participated in covertly funding and directing candidates for local office within the United States.”

One of the main goals of the three Russian defendants was to “directly and substantially influence democratic elections in the United States,” through the funding and directing of select political candidates in Florida.

Ionov was charged the first time by the Justice Department on July 29 for a multi-year campaign to use political groups in the states of Florida, Georgia, and California to spread Russian propaganda and interfere in U.S. elections.

Four Florida residents involved in political groups were also charged, allegedly recruited by Ionov to “act as agents of Russia in the United States.”

The four Florida residents were named as Omali Yeshitela, Penny Joanne Hess, Jesse Nevel, and Augustus C. Romain Jr., aka Gazi Kodzo. They were allegedly involved in the African People’s Socialist Party and the Uhuru Movement (collectively, the APSP) in Florida and Black Hammer in Georgia, according to the Justice Department.  

In a separate case out of Washington, D.C., Russian national Natalia Burlinova was charged with with conspiring with an FSB officer to act as an illegal agent of Russia in the U.S.

Acting Assistant Director Kurt Ronnow of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division said that the indictment demonstrates “the lengths to which the FSB will go to interfere with our elections, sow discord in our nation and ultimately recruit U.S citizens to their efforts.”

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