A Russian spy has been charged with bankrolling three American activist groups to spread pro-Putin propaganda and try to meddle in US elections.
Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov, 32, was indicted by the US Justice Department Friday, although he remains in Moscow, and took to Facebook to moan about the charges.
His alleged behavior reflects what U.S. officials say are ongoing Russian government efforts to meddle in the American political process, to shape public opinion and to sow discord and dissent on hot-button social issues.
Ionov is believed to spy for Russia's feared FSB security services, the successor to its infamous KGB. His main target was an African rights' group based in St Petersburg, Florida, with whom he held a YouTube seminar to support Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
He is also accused of funding a group who support California's secession from the United States, and a third group who targeted California-based social media firms for censoring Russia in the wake of Putin's invasion.
He is a resident of Moscow. Prior to the announcement of the charges against him, Ionov wrote on Facebook: 'I don't care about sanctions. I love my country, my people and my president!'
The suspect later confirmed he was charged saying: 'The United States Attorney General filed a criminal case against me.'
FBI Special Agent in Charge David Walker in Tampa called the latest Russian efforts to destabilize American society 'some of the most egregious and blatant violations we´ve seen.'