Glenn Greenwald Keeps Bitching about a Law Requiring Notice If You’re Funded by Russian Spies

The other day, DOJ announced charges in two cases related to FSB efforts to recruit in the US and overseas. Neither set of allegations was entirely new. But what got added to the allegations is of some interest.

Certainly, the fact that American citizens got charged in a Florida case for not disclosing that their political activism was funded, in part, by the FSB, seems to be of interest to Glenn Greenwald. The charges, along with a few overt acts, and the names of two FSB colleagues are what got added to an earlier indictment against the FSB handler, Aleksandr Ionov, filed last July.

Glenn won’t shut up about those charges, making appearances on Glenn Beck and Tucker Carlson’s show so all of them could lie about why members of the African People’s Socialist Party were charged.

The members of the APSP weren’t charged because they disagree with Joe Biden. They weren’t charged because they oppose the war in Ukraine.

They were charged because after one, Omali Yeshiteli, went on an all-expenses paid trip to Russia in 2015, the group started getting funding and completing requests for their FSB handler, Aleksandr Ionov, who ran a front called the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia. For example, shortly after the trip, Ionov wrote the group and asked them to start a petition against the genocide of the African people in the US so that AGMR could start using it as propaganda. And when Russia needed someone to legitimize the “Donetsk People’s Republic,” in 2020, Ionov contacted the Floridians to publicly do so. And when Russia wanted to protest Twitter’s restrictions on Russian disinformation after the Ukraine invasion, Ionov flew one of the Americans to San Francisco to make it happen.

Russia wanted to be able to point to a certain kind of dissidence in the US, so they paid money to help sustain it. And the Americans didn’t disclose that they knew they were working with agents of Russia.

Glenn thinks only rich people like Tony Podesta should be held to foreign agent laws (Podesta wasn’t charged under a different law, FARA, for hiding his ties to a Ukrainian front group that Paul Manafort set up because he was paid by Manafort, and in any case, Glenn didn’t think much of Manafort’s charges for hiding the ties in real time). Glenn doesn’t think other people should have to disclose if they’re taking money — after they go on trips to Russia and start spouting Russian talking points non-stop from that point forward — from Russian spies.

It’s an interesting cause for Glenn and Tucker — who has his own curious tale about Russian ties — to champion.

Which brings us to the other case.

It charges Natalia Burlinova with attempting to do what Ionov succeeded in doing: getting Americans and others to unwittingly act as agents of Russia by recruiting them through her Russian government backed NGO, Creative Diplomacy, or PICREADI.

Burlinova was sanctioned — along with Ionov — last year, which suggests they may have a tie, perhaps the FSB officer they both report to.

Since she was already sanctioned, which would likely prevent her from traveling in any case, this complaint serves largely as a speaking document, which allows everyone she has had prior association with to understand her ties to the FSB.

For example, the complaint provides a detailed description of a trip she made to the US in 2018 and the emails the American participants sent to Burlinova after meeting with her. It doesn’t provide the content of the emails — but it makes those who sent them aware that the FBI knows what got sent.

Of even more interest is an article a former participant of Burlinova’s event wrote in 2020. Without explaining how he received it, Burlinova’s FSB handler sent it to her and said it’d be a really huge deal if it were published.

On October 30, 2020, the FSB Officer forwarded to Burlinova an article written by a participant in the 2019 Meeting Russia program, which argued that Russian malign influence efforts were actually legitimate uses of state soft power. The FSB Officer commented to Burlinova that the article was a huge result for them and would be revolutionary if printed by a named English-language newspaper in the United States and a named English-language newspaper in Europe.

The complaint doesn’t tell us whether it was published (update: it was this one, which was also posted on Burlinova’s site; h/t Alex Finley). But the description would be plenty for its author to understand that it had been the focus of internal discussion at the FSB.

Both these indictments necessarily focus on the US, but both conspiracies are international. Laying out the charges in the US and arresting anyone that would one day be arrested might something the FBI would want to do before sharing the underlying intelligence with allies.

And some of the details describe the greater international success of this effort. One of Burlinova’s biggest successes, for example, came in seeing two former participants in her yearly event elected to parliament.

On October 5, 2018, Burlinova informed the FSB Officer about two prior participants in another Russian public diplomacy program in which Burlinova had been involved. Burlinova reported that the two prior participants, both of whom resided in a European country, were running for public office. Burlinova stated that these were the results that take years to come into fruition. The FSB Officer responded that this was truly the result for which they were striving and requested that Burlinova provide more information about these prior participants and the election for public office so that the FSB Officer could prepare a report. The two candidates ran for parliamentary positions; one won in that election, and the other was elected subsequently to parliament.

Again, we don’t know which members of parliament these are and in which country, but others in their country likely recognize it.

A report in the WaPo — the timing of which may be coincidental or may explain why DOJ rolled out the charges earlier this week — describes the stakes. It describes the Kremlin’s involvement in the red-brown coalition opposing the Ukraine war in Germany.

The coming together of political opposites in Berlin under the banner of peace had been percolating for months, though the union remains ad hoc and unofficial. But marrying Germany’s extremes is an explicit Kremlin goal and was first proposed by senior officials in Moscow in early September, according to a trove of sensitive Russian documents largely dated from July to November that were obtained by a European intelligence service and reviewed by The Washington Post.

The documents record meetings between Kremlin officials and Russian political strategists, and the Kremlin’s orders for the strategists to focus on Germany to build antiwar sentiment in Europe and dampen support for Ukraine. The files also chronicle the strategists’ efforts to implement these plans and their reports back to the Kremlin. The documents do not contain any material that records communications between the Russian strategists and any allies in Germany. But interviews show at least one person close to Wagenknecht and several AfD members were in contact with Russian officials at the time the plans were being drawn up.

Like the Florida effort, the German one features manifestos written by the Kremlin.

The aim of a new political formation, according to a document dated Sept. 9, would be to win “a majority in elections at any level” in Germany and reset the AfD to boost its standing beyond the 13 percent the party was polling at then. The reset, laid out among the documents in a proposed manifesto for the AfD that was written by Kremlin political strategists, includes forging the AfD into the party of “German unity” and declaring sanctions on Russia as counter to German interests.


It is not clear from the documents how the political strategists working with the Kremlin attempted to communicate with members of the AfD or other potential German allies about Moscow’s plans. But soon after the Kremlin gave the order for a union to be forged between Wagenknecht and the far right, AfD deputies began speaking in support of her in parliament and party members chanted her name at rallies. Björn Höcke, chairman of the AfD in Thüringen in eastern Germany, publicly invited her to join the party.

This is the same kind of effort — but much more impactful — as the Ionov one was fostering in the US (though the right wing secessionist described in it as an unindicted co-conspirator, understood to be Louis Marinelli, was not arrested).

And it’s the kind of horseshoe leftist that Greenwald once posed as before he joined up with Tucker full time … most recently to claim these socialists were arrested for their dissidence and not because they were hiding ties with Russian spies.

Update: RFERL did a bunch of interviews with people who attended Burlinova’s program, some who were shocked about the FSB tie, some who were quite blasé about it.

39 replies
  1. StainedGlass says:

    It might make him feel uncomfortable because of the RT/Alternet/GrayZoan company he’s kept for so long.

    He’s been in the midst of that snake pit for years

    Great breakdown of that here

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    • emptywheel says:

      Thanks, I hadn’t read that but am aware of the significance of the trip: Mike Flynn, Jill Stein, and Ray McGovern were also there (plus one other person I’m forgetting).

      Glenn had his own Russia trip in 2018.

      • Rugger_9 says:

        A fairly substantial pile of GOP leadership types have solidly documented Russian links (including DeSantis) so I have a feeling this story will grow as more is learned.

        GG seems to be ‘protesting too much’ about this and if one applies the GOP rule of ‘every accusation is an admission’ he’s better off staying in Brazil.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          Marjorie Taylor Greene’s opposition to Ukraine has made me wonder if there’s something more than political opportunism (and idiocy) behind her position on the war.

        • Troutwaxer says:

          She was way too stupid to know what it meant when the Russian agent asked her to sign a receipt.

  2. klynn says:

    Thank you for this post and being a continued voice holding GG accountable.

    Sorry to go off topic. Just read your retweet of Lauren Windsor’s coverage of Cleta M voting interference. Just had to bring up this 2008 blast from the past. It’s interesting to reread that post and then read Cleta’s plan!

    And I add this to the read:

    • Rugger_9 says:

      It’s the horseshoe political theory, where radicals and fringes stick together regardless of spectrum location. It also might be the source of the axiom of ‘scratch a liberal, find a fascist’. After all both extremes insist on enforced compliance for our own good.

      • BobBobCon says:

        Trump is trying the same deal, hoping for more press like this idiotic Politico horse race piece that doesn’t once bother to ask if he actually is a dove (he’s not).

        The horseshoe is hoping to find enough dupes like the Times in 2016 when Maureen Dowd proclaimed Trump was a dove and Carolyn Ryan cited a Greenwald piece to defend the Times’s biased anti-Clinton coverage.

        To be fair, this time around I think a bigger percentage of the press has been burned enough times to be wary. Not sure about Carolyn Ryan, though. She’s awfully slow on the uptake.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Mifepristone ruling from Supremes, as expected, is disappointing. Reporting so far sketchy. Halts Texas judge’s ruling, but only to let the normal appeals process proceed. Court avoids the most obvious solution, which was to toss the case for plaintiff’s lack of standing. Outrageous.

    No opinion from the majority, but Alito and Thomas dissent. Intellectually dishonest and laughably obtuse, Alito concluded that the defendants had failed to show that they would suffer irreparable harm were Mifepristone sales to be halted. He’s purposely enraging those still engaged in rational thought rather than in thrall to religious ecstasy.

      • Doctor My Eyes says:

        Alito seems to have had what we sixth graders used to call a hissy-fit. Just petty. He pouts that 3 justices who have criticized this court’s use of the shadow docket in the past voted in favor of this ruling. He disagrees with their prior criticisms, mind you, but calls them out for participating in its use here. Is he suggesting that some justices who oppose this sort of use of the shadow docket should sit out votes in protest? Also some bitchy ass whining about the Washington judge’s ruling. Distinctively unjudicial from Alito.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Hissy fit is a good description of Alito’s intellectual dishonesty. He ignored the facts surrounding plaintiffs’ utter lack of standing, as he ignored the facts that amply demonstrated the likelihood of irreparable harm. He’s a toddler who wants what he wants because he wants it.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          I can’t imagine a man of Samuel Alito’s self-estimation *not* having wanted–and feeling he deserved–to be named Chief Justice. His intellectual deficits, clearly manifest to us, seem to strike him as virtues, as does a “temperament” the farthest thing from what most of us consider judicial.

          This hissy fit goes back a long way, much like Trump’s. He will keep taking it out on any scapegoat he can get away with.

    • Ebenezer Scrooge says:

      Once upon a time, Sam Alito was a fine judicial technician. (This is not a moral or political judgment.) Nowadays? Snide Sammy. Smarmy Sammy. Sniveling Sammy. Superficial/supercilious Sammy. I don’t know if the degeneration is intellectual or moral. Maybe both.

      Let’s leave it as Smarmy Sammy.

      • brucefan says:

        Hopefully those with Pacer will share updates on subsequent proceedings below.

        I hoped for a Supreme Court outcome that would discourage Cannon-like rogue actions. The district court granting plaintiff all the relief it sought in a preliminary “stay” has put this case into a puzzling posture, which increases the chances for mischief.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          Have you met the Fifth Circuit? They are considered the “most conservative” district court in the country, and James Ho scares a lot of us more than Cannon or Kaczmarek.

  4. bgThenNow says:

    On a personal level, it is painful to be in the living nightmare resulting from migration into the fold by old “political” friends. I was willing to disregard a nearly 50 year friendship with someone who was always at the edge of the RW, a conspiracy believer and supporter of 45. On the left we seem to die on our hills rather than compromise sufficiently to work together. Organizing is difficult. Republicans are followers. They get right in line, and then go farther, and then the followers go along.. Now farther than most of us ever imagined. I used to think I was anti-war. But there comes a point. Whatever the “left” is today, I guess I am ready to die on the hill. I don’t feel alone.

    I appreciate this post and the added links and the conversation. Thank you, Marcy.

  5. vigetnovus says:

    Horseshoe theory is very real folks. I especially feel it when I visit the west coast given the proximity of ultra-rightists in the inlands to some ultra-leftists on the coasts. And then there’s the issue of some of those leftists being corrupted by the obscene money flows from Silicon Valley (yet another foreign influence operation). It’s no wonder Tim Draper has tried to break up CA by appealing to these horseshoe factions.

    Then there’s the Tulsi Gabbard experiment in HI…. same sort of play, turn indigenous peoples against federalism.

  6. Savage Librarian says:

    Money, Ideology, Coercion, Ego

    Purblind MICE,
    Purblind MICE,
    Who hit-and-run,
    Who hit-and-run,
    They’ve bent their wills
    to the buyers’ price,
    Without thinking twice
    of the sacrifice,
    Did you ever hear
    such fools’ bad advice
    as purblind MICE?

    “The Three Stooges (Three Blind Mice)”

  7. JayBlam says:

    I’ve wondered if Substack was really just a way to launder FSB money to propagandists like GG or Michael Tracey.

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    • J R in WV says:

      Really? Money laundering from FSB to Rus propagandists?


      How outre can you get, but how likely is it to be real ~!!!~ Very likely to be true, does anyone report on Substack funding? Or is that a black hole of money laundering unattended by anyone at all???

    • Rayne says:

      Can’t deny it’s a possibility subscriptions and/or donations to Substack writers provide overseas entities a possible means of paying for propaganda. Folks could say the same about contributions to this site, though; the key difference is that for Substack it’s a business model Substack has used to solicit and obtain financing as well as offer equity with the intent to operate as a for-profit media organization.

      • w33g33 says:

        This is extremely paranoid of you. Some people who blog on substack are on the left and/or antiwar. Moss Robeson is a ukrainian-american many should have heard before this whole situation happened, he predicted it to the day, and as usual both sides are at fault. The knowledge he’s brought to me about the OUN-B was/is extremely alarming. He’s appeared a couple times on an old podcast called The Farm if you prefer a condensed/audio experience. I know the two people I give money to on substack are paying very very little to be able to blog there, I don’t assume it is a very profitable entreprise. Might have some unsavory backers, but that’s the case for almost any social media services.

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        • Rayne says:

          Uh-huh. Right. Except there are a few problems with Substack which have been discussed both in posts and comments here.

          First, Substack’s funding which includes Andreesen Horowitz (a16z) which also has invested in Musk’s X Corp Twitter. Clearly a16z doesn’t care about democracy based on where its funders invest.

          Second, founder Chris Best’s grossly negligent if not malignant approach to moderation — which now includes its microblog facility, Notes.

          Third, Substack’s commitment to certain philosophies and politics is evident in the writers to which they’ve paid out sizeable incentives, including the highly-problematic Greenwald.

          Fourth, there’s no accounting for the naïveté (or desperation) of writers who’ll allow themselves to be co-opted to whitewash Substack’s failings. This also includes writers who were naïve enough to take up Best’s offer of equity when Substack needed to raise cash last month.

          Fifth, just because one is paranoid doesn’t mean there isn’t good reason to be. If Substack were a publicly-held company I wouldn’t invest in it, and I certainly won’t open a newsletter there when there are better alternatives which don’t require one to rub shoulders with Russian assets or useful idiots.

          Lastly, I hope you realize by plugging Robeson as a Substacker here you’ve done him no favors.

          Welcome to emptywheel.

        • Glenn_24APR2023_1253h says:

          No problem, although this is temporary, I’ll use a less silly name if/when I post again, which I think I will have to do.

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        • ItsNeverSimple says:

          Well, I had chosen that nickname and written an entire reply but you apparently didn’t accept it to tell me that the tongue-in-cheek post I made as Eightletterscreenname was just to say, fine, I’ll adhere to your rules, my next post will have a compliant nickname. Now I think I spent 30 minutes replying to you here and it’s gone, le sigh.

  8. Orestes Secundus says:

    [name changed to eight characters and amended to avoid doubling]

    Wagenknecht was always a Stalinist, that’s been well known since her PDS days and she really doesn’t make it secret. She does, however, have a striking resemblance to Rosa Luxumburg and she certainly exploits that. That Wagenknecht and her faction within Die Linke are probably on the FSB payroll would not be a surprise.

    FSB influence hasn’t really worked – some anti-vaxxers and Querdenker (Q-anon) stuff but not a lot of influence in the population. It did expose a schism within the Party and Gregor Gysi, a former SED politician and attorney and a current representative and foreign policy spokesman of Die Linke in the Bundestag, stood on the floor and decried Wagenknecht and seven others; he also published his severe criticism:

    “What really horrifies me about your statement is the complete lack of emotion regarding the war of aggression, the dead, the injured and the suffering,” writes Gysi in a letter to his seven colleagues in the parliamentary group.” … “NATO is evil, the USA is evil, the federal government is evil and that’s the end of it for you,” the left-wing veteran reproaches them. And he asks: “Don’t we also have to think about ourselves, understand a certain caesura?”–Co/!5838062/

    Conversely, everything Russia does is is good and justified. The problem they fail to see is that it’s not the USSR anymore but rather the Tsar that they’re supporting and I do believe it is ideology for them and not just FSB deposits.

    That sounds to me very much like what Greenwald is doing, so much so that it could plausibly be consideedr a standard operation procedure of the FSB. No evidence of that but geez, it’s almost the same program in various countries and that can’t be a coincedence.

    The AfD as well. The term “Alt-right” started over here around 2007-2009 when the [real] Nazis decided to trade in their bomber jackets for chinos and button-downs because the NPD was just too much like the party they descended from politically. When PEGIDA and the [Nazi-lite] AfD started getting going with Chancellor Merkel’s refugee policy, one of the largest groups to support them were the Volga Germans who settled in Saxony after the “Wende,” who are basically Russians of German descent.

    So that the AfD has connections with the Russian Federation is also no surprise.

    Unfortunately, here in Thüringen, once you reach the rural areas, there is a lot of AfD support where the previously was CDU but not enough. We also have a Linke government but not the Wagenknecht faction.

    Point is, people are wise to the likes of Wagenknecht and Höcke and they are seen much like MTG and Gosar back there. And while the The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz or BfV) has had its share of problems, I still whole-heartedly trust them to keep a very close eye on this, especially after the war started.

    Just thought I’d add a bit of detail of how our versions of Greenwald are received here since those characters popped up in the post.

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  9. surfer2099 says:

    Greenwald is a failed journo. After not delivering promised revelations with the Snowden material & his husband being detained in a show of naked political power, he’s decided it’s easier (and safer) to use conspiracy theories & barking at the moon to make money.

    • w33g33 says:

      Agreed on that. It felt more like a stunt than anything, I think Barton Gellman (sic) at WaPo (or is it NYT?) leaked more Snowden materials.

      Then Greenwald gives it to the Intercept who announced in an article that they were deleting the Snowden cache, entirely, or at least make it impossible to reach for its journalists who did. Slow Clap…

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