March 26, 2024

U.S. sanctions Russia-based individuals and entities tied to malign influence campaigns

On March 20, 2024, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control designated the Social Design Agency and the Company Group Structura LLC, both based in Russia, and their respective owners for allegedly engaging in malign influence campaigns for the Government of Russia.  According to OFAC, Russia has utilized a variety of tools to engage in public deception by creating websites designed to impersonate government organizations and legitimate media outlets in Europe.  Russia allegedly implemented the campaigns to undermine the interests of the United States and its allies and partners, including efforts to influence elections in the United States, subvert democracy in Moldova, and destabilize Ukraine.  These actions include the development of impersonated news websites, staged videos, and fake social media personas that give the impression that they are from independent news sources.  In or around the Fall of 2022, the designees were allegedly involved in the creation of a network of more than 60 websites that impersonate legitimate news organizations – websites that include embedded images and cookies from the impersonated websites and contain links to legitimate sites that further disguise them.

The designations were imposed pursuant to Executive Order 14024 for having acted or purported to act on behalf of the Government of Russia.  As a result of these designations, all property and interests in property of the designated persons within the United States or within the possession or control of a U.S. person are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions involving a designated person.  Entities owned 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked.

U.S. Department of Treasury Press Release