Who is Aleksandr Ionov? Russian national charged for influencing political groups in the US

Ionov allegedly carried out conspiracies in the US for 7 years (image via Evgeny Feldman)
Ionov allegedly carried out conspiracies in the US for 7 years (image via Evgeny Feldman)

On Friday, the US Justice Department stated that they had charged Russian national Aleksandr Ionov with conspiracy, alleging that he was a Kremlin-affiliated operative who spread pro-Russian propaganda in America for at least seven years.

As per the Independent, Aleksandr Ionov worked with several figures from political factions across Florida, Georgia, and California. He is accused of interfering in both the 2014 and 2022 elections.

Allegedly, Aleksandr Ionov was a liaison for the FSB, establishing connections with fringe, secessionist political groups. Reuters reported that a lot of the propaganda was aimed at countering pro-Ukraine support among Americans.

The indictment states:

“(Aleksandr Ionov attempted to) sow discord, spread pro-Russian propaganda, and interfere in elections within the United States."

CNN reported that the US Treasury Department has also revealed sanctions against Ionov.

Aleksandr Ionov is a Kremlin operative

As per Law and Crime, Ionov is allegedly a Moscow-based Kremlin operative spearheading Russia's Anti-Globalisation Movement. The movement is reportedly a socio-political group that claims to be dedicated to undermining large private institutions, such as transnational corporations.

However, the US Department of Justice claims that the movement, under Ionov, was dedicated to political conspiracies and agitation. However, prosecutors allege that they worked towards creating political discord in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, and Spain.

Prosecutors claimed Ionov and his operatives recruited local political figures to spread propaganda.

Prosecutors stated:

“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."

His initiatives reportedly ranged from online propaganda to mass political rallies. He has been accused of initiating a Change.org petition in which the USA is implicated in genocides against African people.

It has been speculated that Ionov may have also financed the Uhuru movement, which reportedly works towards civil rights and development in the African continent. NBC reported that after Ionov's indictment, the FBI raided the movement's offices.

Besides accusations that Ionov maligned the American government, he was also accused of tampering in local elections in St. Petersburg, Florida, with prosecutors claiming that he served as the Kremlin's liaison in backing specific political campaigns. The documents did not identify the US politicians involved in this conspiracy.

According to prosecutors, during a 2019 Florida election, Ionov and the FSB reportedly supervised specific candidates and played a role in organizing their campaigns.

Ionov, however, has rejected the accusations. After the indictment was announced, he released an official statement.

He said:

"Today we received disturbing news about my inclusion in the sanctions list and the initiation of a criminal case. I have reviewed the documents and consulted with lawyers in the USA."

He added:

"I was particularly struck by the fact that I allegedly work for the special services. At the same time, the names and officials are not called. I consider these accusations destructive."

The Department of Justice has not yet announced the names of the Americans involved in the suspected conspiracy.

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Edited by Sayati Das
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