Pravfond and Natalia Kardash

Dmitry Khmelnitsky
Boris Demash 

On 11 June 2024, Radio Danmarks, citing the statement of the Security and Intelligence Service of Denmark, reported that a Russian national had been detained on suspicion of operating for Russian intelligence service.

The Russian-language information resource «Vot Tak» explored that the detained woman was likely Irina Petersen. She was born in Moscow, lives in the Danish town of Slagels, and heads the Centre for Legal Support and Integration of Compatriots in Denmark and the Russian-Danish club «RuDakis». In addition, Ms. Petersen has coordinated events in honor of Victory Day 9 May, including the «Immortal Regiment» processions for many years.

According to the Danish law enforcement reports, the case against Ms Petersen is related to the Russian State Foundation for the Support and Protection of the Rights of Compatriots Living Abroad (here and further — Pravfond) based in Moscow. This state entity founded and finances affiliated centers abroad in different countries and is widely used by the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service.

In addition, Radio Danmarks mentioned that four days after the beginning of the full-scale war in Ukraine, Pravfond held a conference for the heads of affiliated centers and editors of legal columns in Russian-language media. Ms. Petersen, head of the center in Denmark, attended the event. Moreover, her center received at least 338,000 Danish krones from the Pravfond headed by Vladimir Pozdorovkin, a former officer of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service and currently Pravfond’s deputy director with responsibility for Northern Europe and the Baltic States.

In total, Pravfond finances 34 affiliated centers in 21 countries. This was revealed over leaked internal documents of the fund, Radio Danmarks indicated.

Pravfond was established in 2012 by the decree of Vladimir Putin. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia and the Federal Agency Rossotrudnichestvo were defined as the founders of the entity.

In 2023, Pravfond and Alexander Udaltsov, Head of Organization were included in the EU sanctions list as supporters of the war in Ukraine.

Citing representatives of the intelligence services of some European countries, the main goal of such centers is to influence public opinion and «justify Russian interference in the internal affairs of other states».

Moreover, the Guardian indicated that among others Pravfond paid money to lawyers who advocated Russian arms dealer Viktor But and Russian killer Vadim Krasikov, who murdered Zelimkhan Khangoshvili in Berlin`s Tiergarten Park in 2019.

In Cyprus, Pravfond has worked closely with Natalia Kardash, editor-in-chief of the pro-Kremlin Russian-language newspaper Vestnik Kipra, for many years.

In November 2013, the official website of Pravfond published the article entitled «The Fund for Support and Protection of the Rights of Compatriots allocated grants and subventions«.

It included the next remarks: «A regular meeting of the Board of the Fund for the Support and Protection of the Rights of Compatriots Living Abroad was held On November 7. The agenda included the issues of conducted activities in September — November 2013 and consideration of proposals for the allocation of grants and subsidies to organizations of compatriots, human rights NGOs, and individuals…».

“It was decided to allocate finances to the Association «RusTolk» (Australia), the Agency «Eastern Mainline» (Germany), the Civil Society Organization «Compatriot» (Norway), «NG Cyprus Advertiser LTD» (Cyprus) to support legal columns on the Russian-language editions, websites and thematic programs on TV.»

Citing the Cyprus Companies Registry, Natalia Kardash and Igor Nasonov, ex-chairman of the Cyprus Coordination Council of Russian Compatriots and ex-president of the Association of Russian Speaking Residents of Cyprus «Horizon» had been beneficiaries and directors of “NG Cyprus Advertiser LTD” until 2018.

In October 2019, Pravfond in the article entitled «Pravfond and the newspaper Vestnik Kipra strengthen co-operation» indicated that » Alexander Udaltsov, Executive Director of the Found for the Support and Protection of the Rights of Compatriots Living Abroad, met with Natalia Kardash, Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper Vestnik Kipra and Vice-President of the Association of Russian Speaking Residents of Cyprus «Horizon». The sides discussed joint projects.»

On 28 October 2022, Pravfond issued the next article entitled «On the Experience of the Found for Supporting and Protecting the Rights of Compatriots Living Abroad» and stated: «This year, due to the sanctions war against Russia unleashed by the collective West and bans on the transfer of finance, the centers in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia suspended their work, and the websites in Denmark, Latvia, Norway and Estonia were closed. The Foundation had to find non-standard solutions to support our partners in Spain, France, and Cyprus…. Such Russian-language printed media as MK-Germany, MK-Athens Courier, Prague Telegraph, Vestnik Kipra, Rusia Dnes (Bulgaria), Novoe Vremya (Azerbaijan), Rights of Compatriots in Northern Europe (distributed in Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Sweden) and some other editions supported by the Foundation hold sustainable positions.»

The phrase «we had to find non-standard solutions to support our partners» means that Pravfond uses new and doubtful legal options for financing its affiliated centers.

Natalia Kardash has been conducting the annual international legal conferences in Cyprus branded Best Legal since 2014.

Media partnership provides her magazine Successful Business funded by Pravfond. She confirmed it praising the Foundation for the Protection of the Rights of Compatriots Living Abroad during the third conference (2016).

The next Best Legal conference is to be scheduled in Limassol in October 2024.

There is no reason to believe that the goals and approaches of Pravfond for Cyprus are different than for other countries. This is undoubtedly one of the branches of Russian special services and its key figure in Cyprus — Natalia Kardash with her publishing house, financed by Pravfond and the Foundation «Russian World». She retains wide capacities in the Cypriot establishment and has comprehensive experience due to membership in the journalistic pool of the former President of Cyprus.