Wearing a T-shirt that read, “Russia so great,” Alexander Malkevich sat in the lobby of a Manhattan hotel and talked about his new venture, a pro-Kremlin, Russian-backed website called USA Really, whose purported objective is summed up in its tagline: “Waking Up America!”
The site, which doesn’t promote fake news as much as attempt to sow discord in the United States by pushing hot-button issues such as Black Lives Matter protests, illegal immigration and economic turmoil, shares an office in Washington with the Federal News Agency, an organization owned by Russian billionaire Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller for interference in the 2016 presidential election.
But Malkevich scoffs at the suggestion that USA Really is simply a thinly disguised Russian troll farm operating on American soil.
“How can Russia influence on America elections? It’s so strange,” Malkevich told Grant Burningham, host of the Yahoo News podcast “Bots & Ballots.”
The editor of USA Really, Malkevich is also a civil member of the Russian Federation, which “is a consultative civil society institution,” and he said that starting the website proved to him that the U.S. “deep state is real.”
“I can’t understand why in six hours of our launch, Facebook banned our account,” Malkevich declared. “We have three or four posts, and we have zero subscribers. Zero followers on our account on Facebook. We were banned immediately.”
USA Really’s coverage, which depicts American democracy as suspect, appears designed to provoke a reaction. A picture of Donald Trump adorns the wall of USA Really’s Moscow office, along with Confederate and U.S. flags.
Download or subscribe on iTunes: “Bots & Ballots” by Yahoo News
Malkevich also decries what he sees as the outright censorship of another professional provocateur, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
“Alex Jones has millions of subscribers, millions of people who watch his videos,” Malkevich said. “But you know that several days ago he was thrown away from Facebook. He was thrown away from YouTube, and his podcasts were deleted from the App Store. I think it is real censorship. It’s so strange to see it in the country with the great Constitution with famous amendments.”
On its site, USA Really promotes itself as exposing “crucial information and problems, which are hushed up by the conventional American media controlled by the establishment and oligarchy of the United States,” and Malkevich emphasized that view at every turn.
“Thinking again about freedom of speech and about freedom of media, I cannot understand why one little media project from Russia cannot easily work in the United States,” Malkevich said. “Our policy is to give voice for everybody who wants to be heard.”
To listen to Burningham’s full interview with Malkevich, click here.
More “Bots & Ballots” episodes from Yahoo News:
- Facebook is a surveillance system, author Cory Doctorow says
- Why QAnon gained traction in Trump’s America
- Ex-FBI agent: Trump got elected thanks to Russia
- Tech leaders lament the mess they’ve created
- Ex-NSA official: Russian hack of Democrats was ‘assembly line operation’
- Expert: Putin can hack our midterm elections
- Ex-Twitter exec: Trump is in denial over social media threat to midterms
- How Trump weaponized fake news — and changed the rules for fact checkers
- Bots are poised to wreak havoc on the 2018 midterm elections