FBI Alleges Link Between St. Pete Nonprofit and Russian FSB Agent
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WWSB) – A federal indictment states that a St. Petersburg, Fla.-based organization was used as a means to spread Russian propaganda.
Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov has been charged in federal court in Florida with conspiring to get US citizens to act as unlawful agents of the Russian government. Federal agents executed a search warrant at the Uhuru House, which served as a base for an African socialist group. In recent weeks, the organization has been in the news after its flag was set on fire with a flamethrower. A Tampa man has been arrested and charged with criminal mischief in this particular incident.
Court documents indicate that Ionov worked with political organizations to support political candidates and spread pro-Russian propaganda during his invasion of Ukraine. The federal indictment says Ionov was in constant contact with unnamed conspirators in Moscow as early as 2014 and included a trail of wire transfers. Ionov’s goal, say investigators, was to recruit a separatist organization to use as a means of disseminating information.
In 2015, Ionov reportedly sent movement leader Uhuru on an all-expenses-paid trip to Moscow.
The Treasury Department also announced sanctions against him on Friday, accusing him of donating money to organizations it and Russian intelligence believe would create political disruption in the United States and also sought ways to support an unspecified gubernatorial candidate in 2022.
The Uhuru movement denies involvement in anti-American activities and has said it is allowed to have relations with countries like Russia and China and called the government’s actions an “attack”.
Copyright 2022 WWSB. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.