Vladimir Putin’s allies target the Australian group fighting Russian propaganda

An Australian community group campaigning against the Kremlin and the invasion of Ukraine has been targeted by politicians linked to Vladimir Putin, potentially leading members of the organization to face hefty fines or up to six years in prison if they travel to Russia.

The Svoboda Alliance of Australia and New Zealand is a Russian ethnic group that organizes public protests and tries to combat Russian propaganda Down Under.

This year it published a report that branded Russian Ambassador Alexey Pavlovsky a liar, questioned the true purpose and extent of Russia’s diplomatic presence in Australia and alleged that some new Russian passports were packaged in Coles free plastic supermarket bags that were normally used for nuts and had the words “may cause allergy”.

Last month, the alliance also helped organize a conference at the Australian National University in Canberra that looked at information warfare and how Russian diasporas were mobilized by the Kremlin’s intelligence services.

The Svoboda Alliance had known for some time that the Russian government was deeply unhappy with its work.

A Russian passport in a zip bag is labeled with a caption: "Russian Passport: Sold by weight, may cause allergy".
Svoboda Alliance mocked the Russian Consulate in Sydney for supposedly delivering passports in supermarket scoop & weight ziplock bags.(Svoboda Alliance)

But on Wednesday night, a Russian parliamentary committee on countering foreign interference formally proposed to recognize the alliance’s activities — and the actions of 29 other organizations from 16 different “unfriendly” countries — as “undesirable.”

Some groups will also be considered “extremist”.

Commission President Vasily Piskarev claimed, without evidence, that “all these structures are controlled by authorities of NATO member states and are aimed at undermining our country (Russia) from within”.

The statement also added that the “committee had collected material on 150 citizens” who had called for sanctions against Russia and that the information would be sent to law enforcement agencies.

Australia is not a member of NATO, although it has irritated the Kremlin for its support for Ukraine since the Russian invasion.

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