Global Engagement Center
October 19, 2023
The Kremlin uses both overt and covert networks to manipulate information and spread anti-democratic and authoritarian ideologies around the world. One example is the Syncretic Disinformation Network (SDN), which includes the New Resistance movement, the Fort Russ News portal (FRN) and the Center for Syncretic Studies (CSS).
New Resistance, FRN and CSS try to look like authentic, local organizations, but in fact they have and cultivate close ties with Russian actors known for their malign influences.
They all promote the neo-fascist ideologies of Russian philosopher Aleksandr Dugin, whose Fourth Political Theory (4PT) seeks to unite far-right and far-left groups around the world in order to destabilize democracy and overthrow the rules-based international order.
The organizations’ connections to known malign actors in Russia’s disinformation and propaganda ecosystem, its history of deploying fighters to assist Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and its efforts to form a Latin America-wide group of pro-Russian nationalist revolutionary organizations should be a major cause for concern.
New Resistance is a neo-fascist quasi-paramilitary organization operating in South America, Europe and North America with deep connections to individuals and corporations within Russia’s disinformation and propaganda ecosystem. Together with the English-language propaganda website Fort Russ News (FRN) and the pseudo-authoritarian think tank Center for Syncretic Studies (CSS) – both inactive since February 2022 – New Resistance was formed by a pro-Kremlin disinformation and propaganda network and was inspired by Aleksandr Dugin, a Russian “philosopher” targeted by US sanctions and the main proponent of a Russian-led anti-Western Eurasian imperialist movement.
The network, henceforth called the Syncretic Disinformation Network (SDN), aggressively promotes Dugin’s Fourth Political Theory (4PT), which seeks to unite far-right and far-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 in the global sphere and promotes the Kremlin’s geopolitical goals of destabilizing democracies and undermining the rules-based international order.
Nova Resistência, the Brazilian branch of New Resistance, is particularly active and works to extend New Resistance’s malign influence throughout Latin America. New Resistance co-hosts events with Dugin, which include high-ranking Russian officials and “academic” seminars and training courses on its YouTube channel and website with local and international professors, historians and philosophers.
The New Resistance website – registered in Moscow – regularly publishes pro-Kremlin and pro-authoritarian disinformation, comparable in content and timing to media outlets with known links 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 Hezbollah, a terrorist organization supported by Iran.
Regionally, the New Resistance has been instrumental in creating a group of “nationalist and revolutionary organizations” with similar ideals throughout Latin America. The organization’s efforts are not limited to political coordination and philosophy, but also extend to supporting paramilitary activities.
In addition to the New Resistance’s open 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 Donbass region of eastern Ukraine.
The FRN, the now inactive media component of the Syncretic Disinformation Network, has disseminated disinformation and pro-Kremlin propaganda on topics ranging from Russia’s military operations in Ukraine and Syria to disinformation about Covid-19, questions about electoral legitimacy and climate change propaganda.
When it began operating in 2014, FRN focused mainly on translating and amplifying Kremlin disinformation and propaganda aimed at foreign audiences, as well as promoting Kremlin-linked websites – including those identified by the US government as being controlled, directed, commissioned or influenced by Russia’s intelligence or military services.
The pro-Kremlin Russian-language media, meanwhile, tried to portray FRN as a reliable Western media outlet and cited its content for propaganda purposes inside the country. FRN was shut down, for unknown reasons, 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 the FRN’s disinformation and propaganda activities, until it too went into an apparent hiatus a few days after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 – again for unknown reasons.
The CSS was also used to translate many of Aleksandr Dugin’s writings and helped spread his ideas through articles, workshops and seminars.
Individuals behind the Syncretic Disinformation Network have regularly cooperated with legal entities linked to US sanctioned actors and linked to the Russian government, known to serve as representatives of Moscow’s global malign influence operations, including Aleksandr Dugin, Konstantin Malofeyev and Yevgeniy Prigozhin. Individuals from the SDN and CSS have also contributed to websites attributed to Russia’s intelligence services by the US government. This Network uses Kremlin disinformation and propaganda to try to destabilize democracies, engage in support for revanchist military activities through quasi-paramilitary groups, and subvert the rules-based international order.