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Russia spreads propaganda in Europe through human rights state fund - The Guardian

Russia spreads propaganda in Europe through human rights state fund - The Guardian Russia spreads propaganda in Europe through a human rights fund (photo: Getty Images)

Because of a leak of internal documents from the Russian state Fund for Support and Protection of the Rights of Compatriots Living Abroad (Pravfond), it became known about the dissemination of Kremlin propaganda by this organization in European countries, according to The Guardian.

According to The Guardian, European intelligence services and analysts believe that this Russian state fund is a Moscow influence operation operating in 48 countries in Europe and around the world.

For example, the Danish public broadcaster DR obtained over 40 documents from Pravfond from a European intelligence source and provided them to a consortium of European journalists.

Activities of the Russian human rights fund

The leaked documents indicate that the fund finances propaganda websites targeting Europeans. In particular, the group has spent millions of euros on funding propaganda and legal campaigns.

Public data also shows that local partners of Pravfond have received million-dollar state subsidies from several European countries where the fund has local branches.

The British press notes that this raises questions about the use of public funds and concerns about national security just days before the European Parliament elections.

Additionally, Pravfond has also helped pay for the defense of convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout and the killer Vadim Krasikov, as well as hired a number of former intelligence officers as heads of its operations in European countries.

Fund's leadership

Pravfond was founded in 2012 by presidential decree and was backed by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the federal agency Rossotrudnichestvo, which administers foreign aid and has been described by the head of Pravfond, Alexander Udaltsov, as a unique element of Russian soft power. Udaltsov has been subject to sanctions by the European Union since 2023 for supporting and implementing actions and policies which undermine and threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.

Documents leaked after the incident indicate that among the organization's leadership are several documented former intelligence agents. Among them is Vladymyr Pozdravkyn, whom sources in European intelligence identify as an agent of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, and in public documents as the curator of Pravfond for its operations in Northern Europe and the Baltic States.

Additionally, the leadership includes Anatoliy Sorokyn, who, according to documents, is a member of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, and oversees the department of Pravfond dealing with the Middle East, Moldova, and the unrecognized Transnistria.

The head of the Institute of Russian Diaspora, listed in official documents as the project implementer of Pravfond, is Serhei Panteleev, who has been sanctioned in EU countries as an employee of a unit of Russian military intelligence specializing, among other things, in psychological activities.

Andriy Soldatov, an expert on Russian special services, stated that the deputy chief of the Fifth Service's operational information department of the FSB of Russia, Andrei Myliutyn, was a member of the government committee on compatriots living abroad. This indicates a connection between intelligence activities and the explanatory work of the Russian diaspora.

Influence operations fund

In the Estonian Security Service's 2020 national security report, Pravfond was referred to as a pseudo legal defense system which is a fund for influence operations.

The Estonian side has also stated that the FSB uses groups to recruit employees abroad.