NEW YORK (AP) – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has resigned. A woman with dual citizenship in Russia and the United States, who established what prosecutors called a “Russian propaganda center” in New York City, was charged on Tuesday with violating federal laws that have been in effect for more than a decade and require foreign agents to register with the United States.
A criminal complaint against Elena Branson was unsealed in Manhattan federal court, and the allegations against her have publicized shortly after. According to U.S. Attorney Damian Williams, Branson, who is believed to have fled the nation for Russia after September 2020 and is still at large, was said to have spoken directly with Russian President Vladimir Putin when Putin was conducting an aggressive propaganda campaign.
Her 2012 foundation of the Russian Center New York, which the prosecutor termed as a “Russian propaganda center,” was preceded by contact with Putin and a high-ranking Russian official, Williams said in a press statement. She conducted promotional outreach while simultaneously serving as chairman of the Russian Community Council of the United States, which included an “I Love Russia” campaign targeted at American teenagers.
Meanwhile, Branson was aware that she was required to register as an agent of the Russian government but decided not to do so, instead of instructing others on how to avoid doing so, according to William’s report unlawfully. According to the district attorney, it is vital to identify and deter efforts at foreign influence in today’s world, especially in light of recent global events, and the Southern District of New York is honored to play a role in the battle against tyranny.
According to the criminal complaint, Branson has been operating unlawfully on behalf of the Russian government since 2011, at the very least. In the article, it was said that she established the Russian Center New York after obtaining tens of thousands of dollars in money from the Russian government.
Mr. Branson was charged with conspiracy to serve as an agent of a foreign government without alerting the United States Attorney General, among other things. He is 61 years old.
Among her responsibilities on behalf of the Russian government, according to the lawsuit, was arranging meetings for herself and other Russian officials with officials from the United States government and executives from firms operating in the United States.
It claimed she attempted to invite then-presidential candidate Donald Trump or one of his children to a “Russia Forum New York” in April 2016, even though there was no evidence that Trump or one of his children attended the meeting, according to the lawsuit.
After the November 2016 presidential election, she sent an email to a Trump adviser to express her congratulations and attempt to persuade the president-elect to attend a World Chess Championship in Manhattan, the complaint stated. However, “there was no indication that the now-former President attended the referenced event.” According to the lawsuit, on Nov. 10, 2016, Branson was photographed with Putin’s current press secretary, who was also present at the event.
According to the report, a former New York state senator and executives from several major American corporations were among those who attended. She also assisted in arranging meetings for the head of the Department of Foreign Economic Activity and International Relations for the Government of Moscow in March 2016.
Authorities claim that she orchestrated a campaign to urge Hawaiian officials not to alter the name of Fort Elizabeth on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, which is the sole surviving old Russian fort in the Hawaiian islands, via her New York center in 2019.
Her accusers said that she sent Russian government officials to Hawaiian authorities and orchestrated a trip to Moscow for Hawaiian officials responsible for the proposed name change to meet with senior government officials. Sources claim that Branson regularly receives cash and guidance from the Russian government, including from the country’s embassy in Washington. He is assigned tasks by high-ranking Russian government officials and state-owned enterprises.
An official statement stated that the FBI interviewed Branson on September 29, 2020. She falsely claimed Russian officials had never asked her to coordinate any meetings between business leaders or politicians from the United States and officials from the government of Moscow during their interview.
According to the lawsuit, the FBI obtained search warrants to access eight of Branson’s electronic accounts and 34 electronic devices, including about 11 cellular phones, throughout its investigation. According to the report, her New York City apartment was sold in March of last year, and she traveled to Moscow less than a month after her FBI interview.
According to the lawsuit, Branson stated in an email to Putin on January 30, 2012, that she was writing a letter to him, requesting him to offer administrative help so that she could conduct events at the Russian Consulate in New York and the Russian Embassy in Washington, among other locations.
According to the complaint, Branson wrote a person who worked in the New York City mayor’s office in April 2012 to express her gratitude for assisting her in obtaining “statistical data” that would be useful in helping her in launching the Russian Center New York.
According to the lawsuit, she was accused of receiving about $173,000 from Russian government-controlled companies between August 2013 and November 22, 2019, in connection with her employment at the center.
The October, Branson told a Russian government-controlled television channel that she had fled the United States because she believed she would be jailed if she remained in-the country.
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