According to a government disclosure intended to document foreign-funded operations in the U.S. filed with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on August 5, 2022, former El Paso television anchor, Ben Swann, was paid over $5 million by a Russian non-profit that receives “funding from the Russian Federation.” Swann signed a contract with the Russian company, TV-Novosti, to produce video content. Swann’s government filing states that he will create video content to air “in the markets of India, China, Africa and South America.”
Ben Swann has been working for Russian television for years, has acted as a Russian proxy to settle Russian wages with American workers and is now producing Russian propaganda.
When Russia invaded the Ukraine in February 2022, the U.S. government imposed several sanctions on Vladimir Putin’s government. Among the casualties of the Russian sanctions was the Russian cable news network RT America. In March 2022, RT America shut down its U.S. operations, laying off more than 100 employees effective May 3, 2022.
T&R Productions, LLC operated the American version of the Russian RT network. RT America began operating in Moscow in 2005 as Russia Today. It operates as an English broadcaster “with the stated intention of rehabilitating Russia’s global image.” Five years setting up shop in Moscow, RT America appeared on American television sets, wanting “to speak to American audiences specifically.” By 2011, the Russian government was spending upwards of $300 million a year on RT.
On August 17, 2017, the United States Department of Justice sent a letter to Mikhail Solodovnikov, T&R Productions’ general manager. The DOJ had determined that T&R Productions was obligated to “register pursuant to the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).” The letter explains that the news station’s obligation to register under FARA came about because of the news outlet’s “political activities in the United States on behalf of RT and TV-Novosti.” Both are “both foreign principals under the Act and proxies of the Russian Government,” the letter explained.
The DOJ letter states that the U.S government had determined that RT “serves as the Russian Government’s ‘principal international propaganda outlet’.” The letter added that Vladimir Putin had “explicitly” said that RT, because it is funded by the Russian government, “cannot help but reflect the Russian Government’s official position.”
In February 2022, the British government accused RT of “being a tool of a Kremlin disinformation campaign.” Other western governments agreed. Critics of RT America argue that it “is the propaganda arm of the Russian state and aims to undermine confidence in Western institutions.”
T&R Productions countered the DOJ by arguing that RT America did not believe it would “influence” American politics. It argued that T&R Productions’ purpose was “to produce news, talk shows, and entertainment programs that are designed merely to inform, not influence.” The company added that the content it produced was “not aimed to primarily benefit any foreign government or political party.”
About three months after the DOJ sent the letter advising T&R Productions it needed to register under FARA, the company filed its registration. According to T&R’s FARA registration on November 10, 2017, the owner was TV-Novosti. This is the same Russian company that Ben Swann was recently contracted by, according to his own FARA filing on August 5, 2022.
Several English-language programs were ordered by TV-Novosti, including Larry King Live, according to the April 1, 2017, contract between TV-Novosti and T&R. Larry King Live serves as an example of how Russian propaganda is designed to influence Americans by the use of familiar faces and content created specifically to be American.
Larry King Live
The Larry King Live Show ran between 1985 and 2010 on CNN. According to the Moscow Times, the “last public figure to be interviewed [by Larry King Live] was…Vladimir Putin. Putin had appeared in 2000 shortly after becoming president of Russia.
The T&R contract with TV-Novasti called for ten episodes of the Larry King Now show and an additional eight episodes of Politicking, per month.
Larry King returned to television on July 17, 2012 on Hulu. King also launched Larry King Now, with the financial backing of Mexican billionaire and business owner, Carlos Slim. The following year, King brought his show, Larry King Now to RT America. He also produced another show on RT America called Politicking With Larry King. In 2016, King interviewed Donald J. Trump on his show, Politicking With Larry King which was broadcast on RT.
As soon as King asked Trump about his “feelings about Mexican immigrants.” Trump abruptly hung-up on him, leaving King’s question unanswered. Later Trump’s representative told CNN that Trump did not know King’s show would be broadcast on the Russian-backed RT America.
When King was criticized for creating content for the Russian television station, he replied that “they pay us a lot of money.”
We need your support to keep delivering the news and information that is important to you. We are seeking to raise $5,000 to cover our costs through the end of the year. We would not be asking if we did not need your support.
Who Is TV-Novosti
TV-Novosti, is a Russian ANO, or non-profit. It owns RT. In 2009, Russia Today changed its name to RT, dropping “Russia” from its name. According to a 2021 Cyber Defense Review article, RT’s editor-in-chief at the time, Margarita Simonyan, said that the rebranding was “so as not to scare the audience.” At the time, RT was looking to expand its audience by creating content in Arabic, English, French, German and Spanish.
RT, according to Simonyan, is for “conducting the information war” against the “Western world.” When she said this, Simonyan was defending the use of Russian taxpayer funds to operate RT. Simonyan later added that RT was “a weapon like any other” that is “used in critical moments.”
The problem critics have observed about RT’s content is that “some of the reporting is very good and genuine.” However, RT becomes a Russian propaganda outlet at critical moments while spending the rest of the time developing credibility with its audience to allow it to squeeze in propaganda items when the Russian government needs to influence audiences in the west.
According to Simonyan, the propaganda works by disguising RT’s true operation by using “English-speaking talking heads” that blend in with its counterparts, “BBC and CNN,” while waiting to pounce with propaganda during critical moments for the Russian state.
The declassified version of the January 6, 2017, U.S. government Assessing Russian Activities and Intention in Recent US Elections, report states that “in the runup to the 2012 US presidential election in November, English-language channel RT America — created and financed by the Russian Government and part of Russian Government-sponsored RT TV, — intensified its usually critical coverage of the United States.” The U.S. government report added that RT “portrayed the US electoral process as undemocratic.” Between August and November 2012, RT “ran numerous reports on alleged US election fraud and voting machine vulnerabilities, contending that US election results cannot be trusted,” said the government finding.
This was before the 2016 elections where the U.S. government found Russian interference. Donald Trump and some Republicans continue to insist to this day that Joe Biden “didn’t legitimately win the 2020 election.” Much of their argument lies on the belief that the American electoral process cannot be trusted.
Recently Dominion Voting Systems, a voting machine manufacturer used in American elections, settled a $787.5 million defamation lawsuit with Fox News. Fox News had alleged that Dominion’s voting machines were compromised.
The 2017 report also found that the hosts contracted by RT are chosen because they “think like us.” The report added that RT knows that it “has enough audience and money to be able to choose” the hosts willing to align with Moscow’s worldview. To further mask Russia’s influence, RT hosts identify themselves as representing “other [affiliated] media” and activist organizations in the country.
Starting around 2015, through at least 2018. Ben Swann was a regular contributor to RT America. The U.S. Senate maintains an official directory of who is credentialed to enter the Senate Press Gallery. The February 2016 list includes Ben Swann representing RT America. He was one of 43 other individuals representing RT America. Another name on the list is Manila Chan, who will become one of Swann’s employees in his Russian contract.
While working at RT America, Swann reported that “credible evidence does not seem to exist” that Russia was involved in the shootdown of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. Earlier this year, investigators said that “Russian President Vladimir Putin approved” the weapons used to shootdown Flight 17 in 2014. Although Russia continues to deny any involvement in the missile attack on the aircraft, a Dutch court convicted two Russians and a Ukrainian separatist on the attack in absentia.
When RT America closed in March 2022, it laid off about 100 employees working in the U.S. About two months after the layoffs at RT America, Ben Swann stepped in and paid the laid-off employees $609,792. In his FARA report to the DOJ, Swann reported making two payments to former employees of T&R Productions of $304,896, each.
The first payment was on May 19, 2022 and the second payment was made on July 28, 2022. The source of the funds was TV-Novosti, according to Swann’s FARA filing. In his government filing, Swann reported that T&R was “unable” to pay its laid off employees. The Russian company wired the first installment on May 11 and the second installment on July 25 to Swann.
On August 4, 2022, Ben Swann signed a $5 million contract with TV-Novasti.
Who Is Ben Swann?
Ben Swann was raised in Canutillo along with nine of his siblings. Swann was home-schooled in El Paso. He has four brothers and five sisters. Ben is married and has five children.
Before becoming a newscaster, Swann was a preacher traveling around Texas preaching in revivals. In a 2003 El Paso Times profile, Swann explained that he started out as a youth pastor around 1993 at a Baptist church in Canutillo. Unable to find a job in El Paso as a church minister, Swann started working at KDBC, Channel 4 after one of his four brothers suggested he work in television news. His brothers worked in television at the time. In 1998, Swann moved to KFOX as a cameraman and left the following year to work as a pastor in Portland Oregon. Six months later, he was back in El Paso.
In May 2000, Swann was ordained a minister at the Southern Baptist Convention. Instead of working in church ministry, Swann returned to KFOX, first as sports producer and later at the station’s Las Cruces bureau. Eight years later, in March 2008, Swann was hired by KTSM-TV as one its anchors. Swann had left KFOX-TV in 2007 and worked behind the scenes at KVIA while waiting for his KFOX non-compete clause to runout. In 2010, Swann left KTSM to co-anchor WXIX-TV in Cincinnati.
While at the Cincinnati station, Swann became nationally controversial because of his Youtube video questioning whether the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting was the work of a lone gunman. Swann also questioned whether massacres at the Aurora movie theater and Sikh temple in Wisconsin were caused by a lone gunman. In all three cases, Swann argued on video that “there has been no evidence” that in the three incidents “there was only one shooter.” Swann defended his videos as an “issue of asking questions.” Swann’s latest venture, Sovren Media provides a platform to Alex Jones, a proponent of Sandy Hook conspiracies.
More controversy followed Swann after the single gunman narratives he argued on Youtube.
While working as an anchor at CBS46 in Atlanta, Swann stated on air that the “media is telling you the entire story is a hoax or fake news, but what does that mean,” implying that the news media was covering up the debunked conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton was involved in a satanic cult abusing children. The conspiracy became known as Pizzagate. Shortly after the segment aired, Atlanta’s CBS46 suspended Swann over his conspiracy website, Truth In Media. Swann returned to the television station after shutting down his site “to keep his job.”
However, a year later in 2018, CBS46 fired Swann after the station discovered that he was working to bring back his controversial Youtube channel. After he was fired, Swann brought back his Truth In Media. He also launched Isegoria, a company building a platform for controversial content creators.
On September 26, 2018, Ben Swann filed paperwork in Georgia creating Isegoria, LLC. The sole owner was Swann. Isegoria comes from the Greek concept of allowing for free speech in government affairs. According to a press release issued by Isegoria on December 11, 2019, Isegoria’s mission “is to create an uncensored, blockchain-based, decentralized news and entertainment platform with a funding mechanism for independent media.” Blockchain is a technology that allows the recording of transactions, like payments, in a virtual ledger that cannot be changed.
Although blockchain technology is often associated with virtual currency, like Bitcoin, and with illegal activities because of its supposed anonymity, blockchain technology is simply a way to keep records that cannot be changed by others. It has many uses from banking to medical technology. In the case of journalism, blockchain can be used to create auditable news content, provide secure verified public data and as revenue model using cryptocurrencies.
In the case of Isegoria, Swann plans are to create a “block-chain based” platform that is “uncensored” and includes a “funding mechanism for independent media.” (https://isegoria.com/) Swann promotes Isegoria as the solution to censorship from technology companies like Google, says the website. Swann argues that Google and other big technology companies puts creators “at constant risk.” On October 25, 2021, Isegoria was rebranded as Sovren Media. Sovren, according to the September 22, 2021 press release is “a premium video and social media platform” for “free-thinking individuals.” Sovren began raising money for its operations.
On December 2, 2019, Isegoria issued a press release announcing that it had raised an undisclosed amount of investment for the company by teaming up with Illumnine. Illumnine, according to the press release, was a business incubator. John McAfee and his “Team McAffee,” as well as Patrick Devereaux were part of Illumnine. The other company involved with Illumnine was Apereum, who Devereaux is involved with today.
The month before Isegora issued its press release, Swann had McAfee on his Truth in Media podcast to “discuss the mass surveillance state, government’s control over citizens through central banking” and how cryptocurrencies can “fight this.”
In 2018, McAfee had started touting “initial coin offerings” on his Twitter account. In 2021, McAfee and Jimmy Gale Watson were indicted on federal fraud charges. According to the indictment, McAfee, Watson and “other members” formed the McAfee Team to perpetuate a fraud selling cryptocurrencies. The first charges involved fraud known as pump and dump. The pump and dump fraud relies on fraudsters artificially raising the price of a stock by buying up large quantities at low prices and selling it at higher prices when as the price increases through fraudulent news articles generated about them. The government alleged that McAfee and Watson made $2 million in the fraud.
The second fraud alleged by the government involved initial coin offerings (ICO). ICOs are public announcements to investors that a new cryptocurrency is about to be launched. The announcement is used to raise funds for the new crypto from investors. The government alleged that the McAfee Team members made $11 million from the ICO fraud.
In both cases, the prosecutors alleged that the fraud was committed through McAfee’s Twitter account.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) cautioned investors in 2017 that ICO’s “can be, and often are, offerings” subject to the SEC. The SEC warned that anyone promoting ICOs must “comply with federal securities laws.” According to the indictment, the MacAfee Team started promoting at least seven ICO’s through McAfee’s Twitter account on December 20, 2017.
In June 2021, the day after a Spanish court ruled that he could be extradited to the U.S. to face federal charges, MacAfee was found dead in his prison cell of an apparent suicide. On February 9, 2022, Jimmy Watson entered into a deferred adjudication agreement with the federal prosecutors. On July 14, 2022, Watson also settled with the SEC. The SEC’s order prohibits Watson from engaging in selling securities in the future and to pay restitution in the amount of $375,934.86. The Illumnine website is now defunct.
In early 2020, Swann converted Isegoria from a limited liability company to a “domestic profit corporation,” changing its name from Isegoria, LLC to Isegoria, Inc. Isegoria was now free to offer up to 1 million shares in the company. Ben Swann remained the sole owner of the reformed company, according to its Articles of Incorporation. However, by October 2020, Isegoria had Patrick Devereaux and Sam Eaton as officers of the company, including Swann, according to the company’s Georgia filing for that year.
According to his Linkedin profile, Devereaux has a finance and accounting background. Apereum’s website shows Devereaux as the individual in charge of finance and accounting. The website also lists an address in Wyoming. However, Wyoming’s business records show the company was dissolved on August 9, 2019. Apereum was first created as a limited liability company on June 28, 2018. It converted its company structure from a limited liability company to a profit corporation on January 9, 2019. Much like Swann has done with Isegoria. Devereaux was listed as one of four directors of the Apereum. On August 9, 2019, the company was dissolved by Wyoming officials for a tax issue.
Meanwhile Swann’s Isegoria company has gone through several company changes since 2021. According to the State of Georgia business records, Isegoria again converted itself. This time, the Georgia-based company changed its status to “a foreign profit corporation.” Now, instead of being a Georgia corporation, Isegoria had now become a State of Wyoming company.
Devereaux, Eaton and Swann remain the officers of the new Wyoming company, which was formed on October 18, 2021. On May 4, 2022, Isegoria, Inc. amended its articles of incorporation, according to state records. The amended articles modified the total shares issued by the company. Isegoria, Inc. can now issu 2,328,217 shares of Voting Common Stock, 150,000 share of Non-Voting Common Stock, 245,076 shares of Class A Preferred Stock, 360,604, a second set 245,076 Class A Preferred Stock shares, and two sets of Class B Preferred Stock, the first with 61,269 shares and the second with 90,151 shares.
In addition to Isegoria, Swann has another company. It is Rebel Media Productions and it recently accepted a multi-million dollar contract from a Russian company, funded by Vladimir Putin’s government to produce English disinformation content.
The Swann Russian Contract
Russian propaganda was never solely targeted at Americans. One of RT’s rapidly expanding footprints is RT Actualidad, a Spanish version launched in 2009. The production contract Ben Swann signed on August 4, 2022 with TV-Novosti for over $5 million tasks him with producing video content. Swann is to be paid monthly by the Russian company for his work.
TV-Novosti owns RT and previously controlled RT America before it was shuttered. The contracts between Swann’s company, Rebel Media Productions, LLC and the Russian calls for Swann to develop several English-language videos.
Rebel Media Productions, LLC., according to Florida business records, was registered on March 24, 2022. According to Georgia property records, the address for the company is the home of Swann and his wife. The owner of the company is Ben Swann. When Swann declared to the U.S. government that he would be receiving money from a Russian company, he used a shared office space address in Florida as the address for his company in his FARA declaration.
The other company listed in the Russian contract is Stark Industries, LLC. Stark Industries is registered in Armenia. Tatevik Arakelyan is the representative for Stark Industries, according to the contract.
The FARA declaration lists four shows that Swann’s company will create for the Russian media outlet. They are Cost of Everything, 360 View, Modus Operandi and The Whistleblowers. Each show will have 50 episodes. The English-language shows are intended to be broadcast in television markets in Africa, China, India and South America according to the government declaration.
The contract between Swann’s company and the Russian media company states that the production of the shows will be created in the United States.
The Whistleblowers Series
Like other Russian disinformation campaigns produce by RT America, The Whistleblowers imitates another American produced show available on American television with almost the same name, including similarities in the look-and-feel of the brand. This is part of how Russian influences audiences by creating content designed to feel American.
The American-version of The Whistleblower was a television true-crime series that ran between 2018 and 2019. It was hosted by attorney Alex Ferrer.
As can be observed, the CBS version of the show’s look-and-feel (on the right) was hijacked by the Russian version (left) running on RT today. Note the use of the dark grey/black and yellow line across the word Whistleblowers in the two logos.
As of May 17, 18 episodes of The Whistleblowers have been published on RT’s website. The last topic was about how a Dutch oil company bribes for oil business. Among the most recent episodes includes episodes on eavesdropping at the United Nations, the Google algorithm, and abortion lawsuits.
The host of the Russian version of The Whistleblowers is John Kiriakou. Kiriakou is a former CIA agent who in 2007 confirmed in an ABC News interview that CIA had waterboarded Abu Zubayadah. Although Kiriakou argues that he was protecting the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), he pleaded guilty in 2013 to a felony for revealing classified information, becoming the first CIA officer convicted for disclosing CIA secrets. Kiriakou was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. Before going to prison, Kiriakou posted on his Twitter account that he was “torture whistleblower.”
Shortly after his release from prison, Kiriakou appeared on RT in 2015 alleging that the U.S. government was keeping hm from working at the Institute of Policy Studies because he had shown a desire to advocate on prison reform. According to the RT report, Kiriakou was still under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Prisons while he served the remaining time of his prison sentence under house arrest. Kiriakou was to end his sentence in August 2015.
The last production of The Whistleblowers under Swann’s contract was scheduled for July 31, 2023. Swann’s company is to be paid $25,408 for each episode of The Whistleblowers, or $1,270,400.
The 360 View And The Cost of Everything
A second and third show was also contracted to Swann’s company on August 1, 2022. The name of the second show is The 360 View. The third show was named The Cost of Everything. Instead of Stark Industries, the third partner in this contract is Kart, LLC. a company registered in Russia. Representing Kart is Kiseleva N.N., according to the contract. Like The Whistleblowers contract, the second and third shows were also to be produced in America. This contract, also scheduled to end on July 31, is worth $2,540,800, or $25,408 per episode. Under the agreement, Swann’s company is to create 50 episodes, each shoe to be 25-minutes long. The Cost of Everything focuses on topics about rising prices on consumer goods. The 360 View focuses on cultural issues like “transgender issues in the United States,” and free speech issues in Canada.
The host of the 360 View is Scottie Nell Hughes. In 2018, after helping Donald Trump in the 2016 election, Hughes was hired by RT America as an anchor. She had been a regular on RT since 2013.
The first episode of the 360 View was published by RT on November 8, 2022. It focused on the abortion debate. To date, 42 episodes have been published through May 12, 2023. The latest episode focused on homeschooling.
The Cost of Everything
The Cost of Everything’s first episode on RT was on November 10, 2022. It focused on the rising cost of energy. Forty episodes have been published as of May 15 with the last episode on May 14 focusing on the cosmetic industry. Christy Ai is the host of the show.
Modus Operandi With Manila Chan
Another production was added on August 1, 2022. It is named the Modus Operandi. Like the other productions in Swann’s contract, the Modus Operandi is to have 50 episodes of 25 minutes each. Swann’s company is to be paid $1,270,400 for this production. The host of Modus Operandi is Manila Chan.
Manila Chan, who was born in Los Angeles, previously worked for RT America. Chan currently runs a personal blog critical of U.S. policies. Her last podcast on April 11 discussed the “hypocrisy” of using the term “war criminal” against Vladimir Putin when some have argued former U.S. presidents are also “war criminals” because of U.S. foreign policies in other countries. Chan, according to the contract, will host 50, 25-minute episodes. The episodes will focus on the “United States and NATO continuing to spread war around the world.” The episodes are to be created between August 1, 2022 and April 30, 2023.
The first episode of Modus Operandi was published on RT’s website on March 16, 2023. The episode focused on the control big technology companies exert over the news industry. Eighteen episodes have been published through May 15 with the last episode published on the same day. The latest episode’s topic was drug addiction across the globe.
In total, the Russian government through TV-Novosti will pay Ben Swann’s company $5,081,600 to create what the U.S. government and critics have argued is Russian propaganda to further the interests of the Russian government.
Isegoria, Inc. owns Sovren Media. Sovren is a content hosting platform much like Youtube. Among its featured creators are Ben Swann, one of the owners, and Brit Hume, Robert F. Kennedy, Alex Jones, and others. Alex Jones lost a court battle in October 2022 to the families of 20 students and six staff murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Jones had been sued by the families for his conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook murders. He was ordered to pay the families of the murdered victims $965 million.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. filed a lawsuit accusing top news media companies of colluding with social media platforms to “censor publications spreading right-wing conspiracy theories.” Kennedy is “a longtime critic of vaccination,” including the “discredited theory” that vaccinations cause autism. Among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit is Ben Swann.
In a recent post on Sovren, Swann advocated for the completion of the border wall on May 12. In another post, Swann said that Trump is “a huge threat to the leftist agenda.”
The site offers tokens to use to tip creators and to view content that some content providers have placed behind a paywall on the site. Each token, which costs ten cents each is worth seven cents.
The Ukraine Invasion
Although Russia no longer has access to American audiences through RT America, it, nonetheless, continues to use RT to sow distrust of America across the globe. The creations of the English-content news-style video content in an American studio allows Russia to control the narratives about Ukraine. According to The Bertelsmann Foundation, a non-profit think tank based in Washington, DC, Russia continues its disinformation campaigns as it prosecutes its invasion of the Ukraine.
Russia “released large amounts of Spanish-language disinformation in January to influence regional political discourse and shape Latin Americans’ understanding of Russia’s actions in Ukraine.” One of the target audiences for Swann’s content is Latin America. In February, “Russia’s state-owned Spanish language news outlets attracted more than triple the viewer engagement in the last two weeks of January than their U.S. media counterparts,” according to Bertelsmann. Bertelsmann added that “with 18 million followers, RT en Español’s Facebook page is more popular that the English-language RT News page with its 7.4 million followers.” With its coverage, Russia “capitalize[s] on that anti-American sentiment and focus[es] on producing content that raises the tension between Latin American publics and the U.S.”
Although the almost 200 episodes that Swann’s company is creating for Russia are not intended to be broadcast in America, their English language and American-style production suggests that they are designed to influence American and western world leaning viewers. They are also available to American audiences through the RT website. Swann’s contract calls for developing content for broadcast in Africa, China, India and South America.
In addition to stoking anti-Americanism in those countries, the broadcasts also help Russia’s cause across the globe, especially now that Russia prosecutes an invasion of Ukraine. When Russia invaded Ukraine last year, the United States, the UK and several other European countries shutdown RT and Sputnik to curb Russia’s disinformation campaigns. Youtube also closed the platform to Russian-funded disinformation platforms.
In Africa, a far-right political activist named Luc Michel once tried to create the “Republic of Detroit.” Today, the movement of the Republic of Detroit is nothing more than a website for “a Black Crimea in the heart of the United States.” () Michel is now in Africa using his Republic of Detroit, Black-empowerment narrative on social media to create support for the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. The “Russosphere” is part of Russia’s disinformation campaign expansion in Africa.
Although targeted at Africa, the disinformation campaigns “directly or indirectly expanded to target specific U.S. communities,” researchers recently said about Michel’s activities in Russian influence campaigns in Africa. By targeting China and India, Russia is looking to influence two of the largest population on Earth.
In South America, Russia is targeting the deep-seeded anti-American sentiments in the populations in the region. Brazil, although has voted against Russia at the United Nations, has done little else. Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, as expected, support the Russian invasion. Bolivia and El Salvador have stayed on the sidelines, neither condemning nor supporting Russia.
Russia’s disinformation campaigns are design to “chip away at the United States’ sphere of influence” in South America.
According to an August 2020 U.S. Department of State special report, “Russia’s disinformation and propaganda ecosystem is the collection of official, proxy, and unattributed communications channels and platforms that Russia uses to create and amplify false narratives.” RT, with a budget of over $300 million annually claims over a billion page views. That would make it the “most-watched source on the Internet,” if their claim is true. Russia’s propaganda model follows the Soviet style with technology enabling it to saturate the attention of the news consumers with disinformation to manipulate their belief systems.
The more content, the more channels and the continuous flow makes it difficult to contain the Russian public opinion influence operations across the globe, even when governments force outlets like RT American to shut down. Moreover, there are plenty of Americans, like Bes Swann, willing to serve the needs of the Russian state for 1% of the Russian government’s investment into RT.
Sources not linked
Kaitlyn Tiffany, “RT America, You Were Very Weird and Bad,” The Atlantic, March 28, 2022, (https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2022/03/russia-today-propaganda-shut-down/627606/).
Tobias Redington, “RT and the Element of Disguise: Russia’s Information Weapon,” The Cyber Defense Review, Vol. 6, No. 3, 2021, 75-88.
Steven Almond, “The Super Swanns,” El Paso Times, November 19, 1989, 1F & 2F.
Leonard Martinez, “Preaching The Good News,” El Paso Times, July 25, 2003, 1D-2D.
John Kiesewtter, “Precocious Texas climbed ranks to anchor,” The Cincinnati Enquirer, December 13, 2010, C5.
The Atlanta Constitution, June 22, 2017, D1.
Original source documents are available here.