Russian State-linked Figures Promoted Portland ‘Cruise Rally’ & Fake News Site Inciting New American Civil War
Iggy Ostantin reveals how Vladimir Putin’s interference in US politics appears to be even deeper and darker in 2020
The stated aims of The Russian Community Council of the USA are to promote Russian heritage and to strengthen the community’s ties to their homeland. The Russian Community Council is part of a network of Russian diaspora organisations managed through a worldwide council which is ultimately controlled by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
But Byline Times can reveal that two US-based figures involved in the Russian Community Council, Sergey Gladysh and Elena Branson, became administrators of Russian-Speaking Americans for Law and Order, a Facebook group with over 8,000 members. This Facebook group has promoted an upcoming “Trump 2020 Labor Day Cruise Rally” in Portland, Oregon.
This event is set to take place just over a week after a member of far-right group “Patriot Prayer” Aaron J. Danielson was shot and killed at a Portland Cruise Rally.
The Russian-Speaking Americans for Law and Order Facebook group has published posts promoting violence against demonstrators protesting police violence.
One example posted by a group moderator on August 17 features the text “Don’t Brake for Communists.” The image shows a cartoon of a driver wearing a “MAGA” shirt running over a protester.
Group administrator Sergey Gladysh is also the founder of the Russian-American Cooperation Initiative, a Seattle-based NGO which states its aim is “to help build professional ties, advance dialogue and cultivate trust between the proactive citizens of both countries.” A previous version of the organisation’s website archived in August 2018 shows a header image of Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump shaking hands with the text “A US-Russia Partnership is a Win for the World.”
The Second American Civil War
Gladysh and the president of this NGO, Vladimir Rodzianko have been involved in TheDuran.com, a website that has spread Russian disinformation since it was established in May 2016. Rodzianko remains its managing director, Gladysh stepped down as its editor in March 2017, according to his LinkedIn profile.
TheDuran.com has published content about the violence in Portland and Kenosha. An article titled ‘Murder of Trump Supporter in Portland escalates civil war’ posted on the 1st of September was tagged with terms including #PATRIOT PRAYER and appears to have been aimed at far-right Christian groups. It ended on a message encouraging confrontation; “the patriots are those supporting Christianity, President Trump as the defender of the right to pray and be Christian… When the patriots say, “bring it on”, that is when this will end.”
An article about the killings in Kenosha defended the shooter, Kyle Rittenhouse, and suggested that Black Lives Matter and Antifa need to be defeated by violent militias:
“The Second American Civil War may be the most pathetic conflict in recorded history, but it is a deadly conflict, nonetheless, made all the more so by the tremendous irrational rage of the antagonists of Antifa and Black Lives Matter. These people truly do not care who they destroy. Perhaps the only hope in defeating them rests in the new citizen militias taking shape. Perhaps Kyle’s only error is that he went into the warzone alone.”
This article, posted on 2 September 2020 was subsequently deleted from TheDuran.com, but it has been possible to archive it from Google cache here.
The Portland Cruise Rally
The Russian-American Cooperation Initiative, headed by Sergey Gladysh and Vladimir Rodzianko advertises its Global Russia programme on its website. It organises trips to Russia as part of “an independent citizen diplomacy program for America’s emerging leaders.” Its partners include the Embassy of the Russian Federation in the US. The Russian-American Cooperation Initiative has also launched its own publication, The Russian American (RussianAmerican.org).
The RussianAmerican.org Facebook page shared videos of the 29 August Portland Cruise Rally to the groups Russian-Speaking Americans for Law and Order and Russian Speaking Americans for Trump 2020, which has with over 16,000 members.
The videos were captioned with “Oregonians tired of unrest organised a mass car rally in support of Donald Trump” in Russian.
The Portland Cruise Rally was itself organised by “Alex Kyzik”, whose real name is Alex Kuzmenko. Alex Kuzmenko also appears to be a member of the post-Soviet diaspora and has been pictured at events of Slavic Youth Boise, an Idaho group between 2012-14.
In advance of the event, Kuzmenko posted that “concealed carry” of firearms was welcome at the Portland rally.
Kuzmenko’s social media pages show he kept a low profile until recent unrest, presently his YouTube Channel features slickly edited videos of the rallies he organised.
An article written by Sergey Gladysh on RussianAmerican.org titled “Russian Americans denounce calls to defund police, mobilize in support of law and order” also promotes second-amendment rights. Gladysh writes: “in Seattle, a group of Russian-speaking second amendment supporters plans to organize a series of activities, including basic handgun and home protection classes, to address the community’s growing concern for safety and rising interest in self-defense.”
He also quoted a post from the Facebook group Russian-Americans for Law and Order: “As a minority, we reserve the right to unite all Russian-speaking citizens of the United States to form an organization to protect our lives, our jobs, our properties, and our freedom.”
In 2018, Gladysh told Russian State outlet Sputnik News that individuals who helped him organize a World War Two Victory march for the Russian diaspora in Seattle were visited by the FBI. Gladysh said these participants were asked about the organizers of the event.
Sputnik reported: “The agents asked participants, “Who are these guys? We saw that you know them, do they get assignments from Moscow?” according to Gladysh, adding that while the visits left unpleasant feelings, they did not affect their lives.”
The article also noted the visits came shortly before the US government shuttered the Russian Consulate General in Seattle in March 2018. Gladysh maintained he and his associates did nothing wrong – “we are certain of our innocence. And we tell them this. We don’t hide anything from anyone, we openly say that we are against the US foreign policy and we have a right to do that.”
A February 2018 indictment released by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller noted the Internet Research Agency, an entity linked to an ally of Vladimir Putin directed its employees to increase “political intensity through supporting radical groups, users dissatisfied with [the] social and economic situation and oppositional social movements.”
If the Russian state is attempting to repeat these efforts to interfere in the coming US Presidential election, recent events in Kenosha and Portland have shown these campaigns could lead to further bloodshed.
what the papers don’t say
Thank youfor reading this article
New to Byline Times? Find out about us
Our leading investigations include Brexit Bites, Empire & the Culture War, Russian Interference, Coronavirus, Cronyism and Far Right Radicalisation. We also introduce new voices of colour in Our Lives Matter.
Support our journalists
To have an impact, our investigations need an audience.
But emails don’t pay our journalists, and nor do billionaires or intrusive ads. We’re funded by readers’ subscription fees: