Scoop: Russia state propaganda alums launch new D.C. media venture
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.
- Its U.S. broadcasting arm announced it would shut down shortly after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
- This week, French authorities seized RT assets in the country, citing EU sanctions over disinformation related to the invasion.
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.