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US announces new sanctions targeting Russian global influence and election interference operations

<i>Maxim Shemetov/Reuters</i><br/>Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in Saint Petersburg
Maxim Shemetov/Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in Saint Petersburg

By Jennifer Hansler, CNN

The Biden administration announced sanctions targeting Russia over its global “malign influence” and election interference operations on Friday.

In a statement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the new tranche of sanctions “is separate and distinct from the broad range of measures the United States and its allies and partners continue to impose on Russia’s economy and financial system in response to its unlawful invasion of Ukraine.”

Friday’s sanctions hit “two individuals and four entities that support the Kremlin’s global malign influence operations and election interference activities,” Blinken said, adding that they “played various roles in Russia’s attempts to manipulate the United States and our allies and partners, including Ukraine.”

One of the individuals sanctioned Friday is Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov, a Russian national who was also charged Friday by the Department of Justice for allegedly “orchestrating a years-long foreign malign influence campaign that used various U.S. political groups to sow discord, spread pro-Russian propaganda, and interfere in elections within the United States.”

According to the Treasury Department, Ionov is president and founder of the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia, which “has maintained connections with separatists and anti-establishment groups in the United States and abroad” and “has received funding from Russia’s National Charity Fund, a trust created by Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin which gathers money from Russia’s state-owned companies and oligarchs.”

He “is also the president, founder, and 100% shareholder of Ionov Transkontinental, OOO (Ionov Transkontinental), which has a footprint in Iran, Venezuela, and Lebanon.”

Both of those entities were sanctioned Friday, as was an entity called “STOP-Imperialism” that the Treasury Department says Ionov used to spread disinformation.

In addition, a Russian national named Natalya Valeryevna Burlinova and her organization, the Center for Support and Development of Public Initiative Creative Diplomacy (PICREADI), were sanctioned.

“Despite trying to hide its relationship with the Russian government and its intelligence services, Russia’s intelligence services direct and fund Burlinova and PICREADI,” the Treasury Department said, noting that “since at least 2017, Russia’s intelligence services have tracked the activities and career paths of past participants in PICREADI’s events.”

Friday’s sanctions come a day after the State Department’s Rewards for Justice program announced a reward of up to $10 million for information on the Russian troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency, its leader Yevgeny Prigozhin — who is a key ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin — “and linked Russian entities and associates for their engagement in U.S. election interference.”

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