Exporting Pro-Kremlin Disinformation: The Case of Nova Resistência in Brazil
The Kremlin uses both open and hidden networks to manipulate information and spread anti-democratic, authoritarian ideologies around the world. One example is the Syncretic Disinformation Network (SDN), which includes the New Resistance (Nova Resistênca in Brazil) movement, Fort Russ News (FRN), and the Center for Syncretic Studies (CSS). New Resistance, FRN and CSS try to appear to be authentic, homegrown organizations but in truth have close ties to and are cultivated by Russia’s known malign influence actors. They all promote the neo-fascist ideologies of Russian philosopher Aleksandr Dugin, whose Fourth Political Theory (4PT) seeks to unite far-right and hard-left groups around the world to destabilize democracy and upend the rules-based international order. The organizations’ connections with known malign actors in Russia’s disinformation and propaganda ecosystem, their history of sending fighters to aid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and their efforts to form a Latin American-wide group of pro-Russia nationalist revolutionary organizations should be significant cause for concern.
New Resistance is a quasi-paramilitary neo-fascist organization operating in South America, Europe, and North America with deep connections to entities and individuals within Russia’s disinformation and propaganda ecosystem. Along with the English-language propaganda website Fort Russ News (FRN) and the authoritarian pseudo-think tank Center for Syncretic Studies (CSS) – both dormant since February 2022 – New Resistance was formed by a pro-Kremlin disinformation and propaganda network and was inspired by Aleksandr Dugin, a U.S.-sanctioned Russian “philosopher” and the principal proponent of an anti-Western, Russia-led Eurasian imperialist movement. The network, referred to henceforth as the Syncretic Disinformation Network (SDN), aggressively promotes Dugin’s Fourth Political Theory (4PT), which seeks to unite far-right and the hard-left movements with the aim of destroying the post-World War II order. New Resistance actively supports authoritarian regimes on both the left and right globally and furthers the Kremlin’s geopolitical goals of destabilizing democracies and undermining the rules-based international order.
Nova Resistência, the Brazilian chapter of New Resistance, is particularly active and works to extend the malign influence of New Resistance throughout Latin America. Nova Resistência co-hosts events with Dugin featuring high-ranking Russian officials and holds “academic” seminars and training courses on their YouTube channel and website with local and international professors, historians, and philosophers. Nova Resistência’s website – registered in Moscow – regularly publishes pro-Kremlin, pro-authoritarian disinformation comparable in content and timing to outlets with known ties to Russian intelligence. Members of the group have repeatedly met with representatives from Belarus, North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela, and have openly expressed their support for the Iran-backed terrorist organization Hezbollah.
Regionally, Nova Resistência was central to the creation of a group of likeminded “nationalist and revolutionary organizations” across Latin America. The organization’s efforts are not limited to political organizing and philosophizing, but also extend into support for paramilitary activities. In addition to Nova Resistência’s overt propaganda and disinformation in support of Russia’s war against Ukraine, the organization has been involved in efforts to mobilize Brazilians to fight on the side of Russia and its proxies in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
FRN, the Syncretic Disinformation Network’s now-dormant media component, disseminated pro-Kremlin disinformation and propaganda on topics ranging from Russia’s military operations in Ukraine and Syria, to COVID-19 disinformation, questions about election legitimacy, and propaganda about climate change. When it first began operating in 2014, FRN focused primarily on translating and amplifying Kremlin disinformation and propaganda aimed at foreign audiences, as well as promoting Kremlin-linked websites — including those identified by the U.S. government as being controlled, directed, tasked, or influenced by Russia’s intelligence services or military. Pro-Kremlin Russian-language media, in turn, tried to portray FRN as a credible Western media outlet and quoted its content for domestic propaganda purposes. FRN was shuttered, for reasons unknown, in February 2022 just days before Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Founded in 2013, the Center for Syncretic Studies (CSS) served as a pseudo-academic veneer for FRN’s disinformation and propaganda activities, until it also took an apparent hiatus just days after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 – again for reasons unknown. CSS was also used to translate many of Aleksandr Dugin’s writings, and helped disseminate his ideas through papers, workshops, and seminars.
The individuals behind the Syncretic Disinformation Network have regularly cooperated with entities connected to U.S.-sanctioned, Russian government-linked actors known for serving as proxies for Moscow’s global malign influence operations, including Aleksandr Dugin, Konstantin Malofeyev, and Yevgeniy Prigozhin. Individuals affiliated with SDN also contributed to websites attributed to Russia’s intelligence services by the U.S. government. This Network uses Kremlin disinformation and propaganda to attempt to destabilize democracies, engage in support for revanchist military activity through quasi-paramilitary groups, and upend the rules-based international order.