US Exposes Russia’s Latin America Disinformation Campaign

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By Marco Echevarria

The U.S. Department of State has reported that the Russian government is actively funding a sophisticated disinformation operation across Latin America. According to a spokesperson from the Department, the Kremlin aims to infiltrate media in various Latin American countries, including Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay. The objective is to manipulate information subtly to erode support for Ukraine and foster anti-U.S. and anti-NATO sentiments by blending propaganda into local media narratives.

The campaign, led by the Social Design Agency (SDA), the Institute for Internet Development, and Structura, targets Latin America to advance Russia’s strategic interests. These firms, adept in digital influence, are noted for disseminating disinformation and propaganda aligning with Russia’s foreign influence goals.

The U.S. Intelligence Community’s Annual Threat Assessment highlights Russia’s evolving tactics, which involve concealing their involvement while pushing their messaging through seemingly independent proxies, websites, and organizations.

The Department identifies Ilya Gambashidze, director of the SDA, as heading this network of malign actors, which includes Andrey Perla of SDA, Structura CEO Nikolay Tupikin, and journalist Oleg Yasinskiy. The group reportedly orchestrates the dissemination of pro-Kremlin content by creating it in Russia and then having it edited and published by a curated team in Latin America to appear as local journalism.

Moscow-based editors, skilled in Spanish and using pseudonyms, play a crucial role in this ‘information laundering’ to maintain the illusion of authenticity. Yasinskiy, in particular, is said to utilize a wide network of Spanish and Portuguese-speaking media professionals to spread pro-Russian messages discreetly.

This strategy reportedly involves coordination with Russian embassies, state-funded media, and local outlets to amplify the pro-Kremlin narrative. The campaign’s thematic focus is on portraying Russia’s actions in Ukraine as just and presenting Russia as a bulwark against neocolonialism, which the Department states is contrary to Russia’s actual neo-imperial actions.

Furthermore, the Department of State’s spokesperson notes that the campaign’s success is measured and directed by the Russian government, with significant input from Gambashidze, Perla, and Tupikin. The operations are designed to ensure the narrative remains aligned with Kremlin priorities, with Russian embassies in the region playing a role in bolstering this messaging.