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Ukraine calls for investigation after video allegedly shows Russian troops torturing POWs

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The United States imposed sanctions on two Russians and four Russian entities in connection with US allegations of Russian interference in US elections and charged one of those sanctioned with allegedly using US citizens and political groups to spread Russian propaganda.

The US Treasury Department said on July 29 that the named individuals and entities played various roles in Russia’s attempts to manipulate and destabilize the United States and its allies and partners, including Ukraine.

The sanctioned individuals and entities raised funds and disseminated false information to disrupt the US election process and were supported by Russian intelligence services to “create or deepen divisions within the country”, the government said.

Brian Nelson, the department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement that the sanctions were a response to repeated attempts by the Kremlin to “threaten and undermine our democratic processes and institutions.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said it was crucial for democracies to hold free and fair elections without malicious outside interference.

He said the Treasury Department’s action is separate from the wide range of economic measures that the United States and its allies and partners have imposed in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, “which constitutes a another clear example of Russia’s contempt for the sovereignty and political independence of other states.”

The sanctions announced on July 29 follow a series of designations aimed at “exposing and disrupting Russia’s persistent election interference and destabilization efforts against Ukraine,” he added in a statement.

One of the individuals sanctioned is Aleksandr Ionov and one of the four designated entities is the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia (AGMR) of which Ionov is the president and founder.

AGMR’s English-language website claims it is a socio-political movement that opposes “certain aspects of the globalization process” and seeks to stop “manifestations” of the so-called “new world order”. , the Treasury Department said.

The AGMR maintained ties with anti-establishment groups in the United States and other countries, organizing conferences and demonstrations against American policies, according to the department. AGMR has received funding from the Russian National Benevolent Fund, a trust established by Russian President Vladimir Putin that raises funds from state-owned enterprises and Russian oligarchs.

The criminal charge was filed against Ionov as part of a malicious foreign influence campaign that the United States said lasted at least from December 2014 to March 2022.

“As court documents show, Ionov allegedly orchestrated a brazen influence campaign, turning American political groups and American citizens into instruments of the Russian government,” said Deputy Attorney General Matthew Olsen of the National Security Division of the National Security Division. Ministry of Justice.

According to the indictment unsealed on July 29, Ionov worked under the supervision of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and with the support of the Russian government. He recruited political groups in the United States, including in the US states of Florida, Georgia and California, “and exercised direction or control over them on behalf of the FSB”.

The Justice Department statement does not identify the US political groups by name, but does provide details about their alleged involvement with Ionov.

The leader of the political group in Florida, for example, received an all-expenses-paid trip to Russia in May 2015, and for at least the next seven years, Ionov “exercised direction and control over senior members of the group”, the department said. .

Ionov “provided financial support to these groups, ordered them to publish pro-Russian propaganda, coordinated and financed direct action by these groups in the United States intended to promote Russian interests, and coordinated coverage of this activity in the Russian media,” according to the indictment. said.

The indictment also says Ionov’s relationship with the Florida political group continued until at least March 2022, and following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the group hosted him in virtual conferences to discuss the war.

Ionov falsely stated at the conferences that anyone who supported Ukraine also supported Nazism and white supremacy. Ionov then reported to the FSB that he had enlisted the group to support Russia in the “information war unleashed” by the West, the indictment says.

Ionov is accused of conspiring to get American citizens to act as unlawful agents of the Russian government. If found guilty, he faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison. It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf, and he is not currently in custody.

The sanctions imposed on him and others freeze all assets they hold in the United States and prohibit people in the United States from doing business with them.

The other person sanctioned by the Treasury Department is Natalya Valeryevna Burlinova. Its Center for Support and Development of Creative Diplomacy of Public Initiative (PICREADI) is one of four entities designated for its work on behalf of the Russian government.

With reports from Reuters, AFP and AP