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TAMPA, Fla. — The Justice Department on Friday unsealed an indictment in Tampa charging a Russian operative with conspiring to influence unnamed groups in Florida, California and Georgia to interfere with U.S. elections and further Russian propaganda.

The Justice Department accused Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov of working for at least seven years on behalf of the Kremlin to recruit and pay American groups to “publish pro-Russian propaganda.” Ionov is not currently in custody.

“Ionov allegedly orchestrated a brazen influence campaign, turning U.S. political groups and U.S. citizens into instruments of the Russian government,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division in a news release.

Authorities say Ionov worked with one group in St. Petersburg, Fla., and is alleged to have sent the leader of the unidentified group to Russia — once for a conference sponsored by the organization Ionov founded, the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that the Florida-based group could be the Uhuru Movement, a socialist and African internationalist group. Federal authorities served a search warrant at a location connected to the group, the publication reported.

Ionov is also accused in 2016 of funding the Florida group’s multi-city demonstration “in support of a ‘Petition on Crime of Genocide against African People in the United States,’” and supported two of the leaders’ political campaigns.

In California, Ionov allegedly funded an unidentified organization’s efforts in 2018 to protest at the California Capitol building in Sacramento, where he tried to direct one of the group’s leaders to “physically enter the governor’s office.” The Justice Department said the California-based group aims to secede from the U.S.

Ionov also financially supported a group in Atlanta to fly to San Francisco and protest at an unidentified social media company’s headquarters that placed restrictions on content that supported Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The impact of Russian malign foreign influence cannot be overstated,” said Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division in a press release. “The FBI will aggressively pursue any foreign government that attempts to divide American citizens and poison our democratic process.”

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