How a Doug Mastriano ad has a Kremlin connection: report

How a Doug Mastriano ad has a Kremlin connection: report
Pennsylvania State Sen. Doug Mastriano, from Wikimedia Commons

When Kremlin propaganda is translated from Russian into English, it can sound a lot like MAGA propaganda. There are references to “cancel culture” and “traditional values,” and such rhetoric was used when the Russian Embassy in Spain posted an English-language video on Twitter in July. The video depicted two blonde girls running through the grass holding hands and encouraged social conservatives to move to Russia — where they won’t have to worry about “cancel culture” getting in the way of a socially conservative Christian lifestyle.

The image of those two girls has also been used in an ad for far-right MAGA Republican and “Stop the Steal” conspiracy theorist Doug Mastriano — who is running for governor of Pennsylvania. According to Business Insider, the blonde girls in the ad are from Belarus. Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus’ authoritarian far-right president, is a major ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Journalist Charles R. Davis, in an article published by Business Insider on October 19, explains, “In a new ad, the GOP candidate — who won his May primary after a late endorsement from former President Donald Trump — even features an image from the same photoshoot used by the Russian government. Posted on Monday, (October 17), the ad features two blonde girls holding hands. ‘For their future,’ it reads, ‘there is hope.’ Visitors to the Mastriano campaign's Facebook page will see it featured as the header. But the girls are not Pennsylvanians, and they are not in Pennsylvania.”

READ MORE: Its 'not a book ban': Doug Mastriano claims while advocating for books to be banned

Davis continues, “Insider was able to track the image back to Pexels, a company based in Germany that offers a repository of free stock photos and videos. It was posted by a videographer who lists their location as Minsk, the capital of Belarus.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer has reported that a liberal super PAC has also traced the images to Pexels.

Davis notes that one of the reasons candidates use “stock footage” like the image in Mastriano’s ad is a need to save money. Attorney Jenna Ellis, who promoted former President Donald Trump’s false voter fraud claims after the 2020 election and is now part of Mastriano’s campaign, has complained that the Republican Governors Association (RGA) isn’t doing enough to help Mastriano — who has been trailing his Democratic opponent, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, in polls.

“Those complaints have come as Mastriano has been mired in controversy over his associations, with the candidate recently campaigning with Jack Posobiec, a far-right conspiracy theorist who previously claimed that leading Democrats were part of a pedophile ring that operated inside a pizza parlor in Washington, D.C.,” Davis observes. “Mastriano has also praised Andrew Torba, an anti-Semite and self-styled Christian nationalist, paying $5000 to Torba's social media company, Gab, in ‘consulting’ fees. The Republican nominee later distanced himself from Gab following criticism from Jewish and Republican leaders, only to then accept a $500 donation from Torba himself.”

READ MORE: Doug Mastriano shredded by Philly paper for 'chilling' plans to overturn future elections

Davis adds, “Another controversy was sparked after Reuters uncovered Mastriano donning a Confederate uniform while a serving as an instructor at the U.S. Army War College.”

Manuel Bonder, a Shapiro spokesman, told Business Insider, “From constantly lying about the 2020 election and peddling dangerous conspiracies, to repeatedly using Russian propaganda in his videos, Doug Mastriano's skullduggery knows no bounds — and it is further proof that he is unfit to be governor of Pennsylvania.”

READ MORE: 'Yes': Doug Mastriano confirms that he wants women who get abortions to be charged with murder

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