A dual citizen of Russia and the United States has been accused by the Justice Department with serving as a Kremlin spy for Vladimir Putin and failing to register as a foreign agent.
Elena Branson, 61, was charged with actively subverting foreign agent registration laws in the United States in order to promote Russian policies and ideology, according to Damian Williams, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. She became a dual citizen in 1999 after nine years in the United States.
Williams claimed that Branson was aware that she was required to register as a Russian government agent but decided not to do so, instead instructing others on how to do so illegally.
Branson was charged in a federal court in New York on Tuesday with acting and conspiring to act as an agent of the Russian government in the United States illegally, willfully failing to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, conspiring to commit visa fraud, and making false statements to the FBI.
According to court documents, Branson began working on behalf of the Russian government and Russian officials in the United States in at least 2011, coordinating meetings for Russian officials to lobby U.S. political officials and businesspeople, and operating organizations in the US for the purpose of publicly promoting Russian government policies.
According to Assistant Director Alan E. Kohler Jr. of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, the evidence acquired in the Branson case reveals she is a serial offender in breaching the Foreign Agents Registration Act in order to advance Russian objectives.