ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It’s been almost a year since the FBI raided the Uhuru House in St. Petersburg in connection with an indictment of a Russian national accused of interfering with local elections.

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Now leaders of the Uhuru group are speaking out while also preparing for a possible indictment.

“This is St. Petersburg, Fla., not St. Petersburg Russia,” Uhuru Chairman Omali Yeshitela said during a press conference Monday.

He recounted the day in July of 2022 that the group's offices and members' homes in different cities were raided by the FBI.

“They come in, they knock in the door, they use battling rams, they knocked in stuff, they used flash bang grenades,” he said.

The Uhuru’s aren’t listed by name in an unsealed indictment that details trips to Russia, thousands of dollars in financial support, and election interference. But the indictment lays out alleged connections between a Russian national and a St. Petersburg political group.

Yeshitela said the group being referring to is the Uhurus, but he maintains that the claims are false.

“To say that we work for the Russians and took money from the Russians, the Russian government — the Russian Government don’t owe us reparations," he said. "Who owes us reparations is the United States government."

Yeshitela and the Uhurus are part of a worldwide organization under the leadership of the African People's Socialist Party. The indictment charges Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov with conspiring to have U.S. citizens act as illegal agents of the Russian government.

In one case, Ionov is accused of funding an all-expense paid trip for a leader of the St. Pete group, but Yeshitela defended those claims.

“There’s a Russian NGO (non-governmental organization),” he said. “There’s a an NGO we have a relationship with. We have never received a single penny, not one penny from the Russian government. Never, never, never.”

Yeshitela said the claims that his group is accused of helping Russia sow division in the U.S. to influence U.S. elections are false. He claims the case is about race, plain and simple.

“Who’s sowing doubts in the elections?" he asked. "Black people have doubts in the elections overall because of how the election never brings us anything. Black people vote not because people promise to give us something, they vote out of fear.”

He pointed to civil rights leaders being attacked the past for their work to help the Black community.

“Here they’re saying they’re attacking Russia — they can’t say, 'I’m attacking you because you put up a radio station for Black people that didn’t exist before,'" Yeshitela said. "They can’t say, 'I’m attacking you because you’re building health care centers for women that didn’t exist before.'"

“They can’t say,' I’m attacking you because you put together this center that was an eyesore and you changed it and made it what it is,'" he added. "So they say, 'I’m attacking you because of Russia.'”

No formal charges have been filed against anyone connected to the Uhurus so far, and the FBI has declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.

Ionov, the Russian national, is living in Moscow and investigators have accused him of committing 50 specific acts from 2014 to this 2023 under the supervision of the Russian Federal Security Service. If convicted, Ionov faces up to five years in prison.