On Tuesday, three Russian nationals were charged with attempting to influence a United States election by funding a candidate in a municipal race in St. Petersburg, Florida, in 2019.
According to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) announcement, Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov, a Moscow resident and founder of the Kremlin-funded Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia, collaborated with the Russian Federal Security Service in order to carry out a “malign influence campaign” on U.S. elections. In the indictment, four Florida-based members of the African People’s Socialist Party and the Uhuru Movement were also included in the efforts.
This is not the first time that Russia has been accused of trying to influence democratic elections, especially following the tense relations caused by the invasion of Ukraine by Russia on February 24, 2022. The Biden administration has provided aim and support to Ukraine which has led to increased criticisms from the Russian administration.
Ionov, and Federal Security Service officers Aleksey Borisovich Sukhodolov and Yegor Sergeyevich Popov, are accused of attempting “to directly and substantially influence democratic elections in the United States.” According to the charges they tried to fund and direct the political campaign of one of the candidates that were running in St. Petersburg’s 2019 municipal elections.
According to the indictment Popov had previously referred to the election as “our election campaign,” and Ionov had called the candidate “’candidate whom we supervise.'” Authorities have not disclosed which candidate it was that Russia was supporting.