Jan 26, 2023 - World

Scoop: Russia state propaganda alums launch new D.C. media venture

Illustration of a TV flickering between no signal and a Russian flag

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

Former employees of Russian propaganda broadcaster RT America have taken over its old studios in downtown D.C. and are ramping up a new media venture, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: RT was a key node in a Russian-backed media apparatus that U.S. intelligence agencies described as integral to Kremlin foreign influence operations.

What's happening: Former RT America employee Georgy Zalevskiy formed a new company, GlobalTek LLC, in April 2022, shortly after RT America announced its wind-down. Corporate filings list the address of RT America's old Washington office.

  • In an interview, Zalevskiy confirmed his company is operating out of those studios.
  • Zalevskiy described GlobalTek as a technology company that provides broadcast services to clients and does not create any editorial products itself.
  • He declined to name any GlobalTek clients.

Zalevskiy also would not name any other individuals involved with the company, but confirmed: "Some people who worked for RT America work for GlobalTek."

  • "RT is gone forever," he said.

Between the lines: Job listings show GlobalTek is working to build out a production staff in Washington.

  • It's currently looking to hire a broadcast engineer, according to online job postings.
  • An earlier job listing sought an audio operator to "set up, operate and maintain the electronic equipment used to transmit television newscasts."

The intrigue: T&R Productions, RT America's old production company, was forced to register as a foreign agent for its work with RT's Russian parent, ANO TV Novosti.

  • After RT America's close, Novosti inked a new deal with a U.S. company run by an ex-Atlanta news anchor to air RT content in India, China and South America.
  • That company, Rebel Media Productions, also registered as a foreign agent, and reported receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars last year to pay former RT America staffers laid off by T&R Productions.
  • Zalevskiy would not say whether GlobalTek is working with Rebel Media, telling Axios: "I will not comment on that."

Rebel Media has looked to sell additional content to RT as well as state media in China and other countries, according to a booking request email sent to a potential guest last year and obtained by Axios.

  • The email was sent by Mona Zughbi, a former NBC producer who co-founded the firm Petra Star Media. Its other co-founder was previously an RT booker.
  • In an email to Axios, Zughbi did not address questions about Rebel Media's or Petra Star's relationship with GlobalTek.
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