Russian businessman and politician Alexander Babakov on February 22, 2021, in Moscow, Russia.
Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images
The Department of Justice charged a high-ranking Russian legislator and two of his staffers with running a yearslong scheme to influence U.S. officials peddle disinformation to advance the Kremlin’s interests, according to court documents made public Thursday.
The three Russians, who have previously been sanctioned by the U.S., worked to undermine America’s international alliances and policies and “promote Russia’s illicit actions designed to destroy the sovereignty of Ukraine,” alleged an indictment filed in federal court in Manhattan.
Their scheme included “staged events, paid propaganda, and the recruitment of at least one American citizen to do their bidding in unofficial capacities,” the indictment alleged.
Aleksandr Mikhaylovich Babakov, 59, Aleksandr Nikolayevich Vorobev, 52, and Mikhail Alekseyevich Plisyuk, 58, are each charged with conspiring to act as Russian agents in the U.S. without notifying the attorney general and conspiring to commit visa fraud.
“Today’s indictment demonstrates that Russia’s illegitimate actions against Ukraine extend beyond the battlefield, as political influencers under Russia’s control allegedly plotted to steer geopolitical change in Russia’s favor through surreptitious and illegal means in the United States and elsewhere in the West,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a press release from the Justice Department.
“Such malign foreign interference will be exposed, and we will pursue justice against its perpetrators,” Williams said.
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