© Reuters. A pro-Palestinian demonstrator tries to stop a NYPD car, as others take part in a protest, outside Jamaica Station to JFK via AirTrain in New York City, U.S., January 27, 2024. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo
By Kanishka Singh
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday that she thinks some protests in the United States demanding a ceasefire in Gaza could be linked to Russia, and that the FBI should conduct a probe into their funding.
Pelosi, who made the remarks in a CNN interview, provided no evidence for her claims. She was asked whether opposition to President Joe Biden’s policy in the war in Gaza could hurt the Democrat in November’s presidential election.
“For them to call for a ceasefire is Mr. Putin’s message, Mr. Putin’s message. Make no mistake, this is directly connected to what he (Russian President Vladimir Putin) would like to see,” Pelosi told CNN.
“I think some of these protesters are spontaneous, and organic, and sincere. Some I think are connected to Russia,” she said. “Some financing should be investigated and I want to ask the FBI to investigate that.”
Pelosi’s comments marked the first time a prominent U.S. lawmaker has accused Russia’s leader of backing U.S. protesters calling for a ceasefire.
Protests demanding a ceasefire in Gaza have recently erupted across the U.S., including near airports and bridges in New York City and Los Angeles, vigils outside the White House and marches in Washington. Demonstrators have also interrupted Biden speeches and events.
The protests have been organized by a range of human rights, Jewish and anti-war activist groups.
Democratic U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said on Sunday that opposition by many to the war in Gaza was based on “the indiscriminate loss of life” in the region.
“I think what we are seeing right now throughout the country is that young people are appalled at the violence and the indiscriminate loss of life,” she told NBC News when asked about the protests against Biden’s policy in Gaza.
The U.N. has demanded an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, but Washington has vetoed resolutions for such calls in the United Nations Security Council, saying it would let Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, which governs Gaza, regroup and rebuild.
Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel killed 1,200 people, according to Israeli tallies. Israel’s subsequent assault on Gaza has killed more than 26,000 Palestinians, over 1% of the 2.3 million population there, according to Gaza’s health ministry. Many are feared buried in rubble.
Israeli bombardments have flattened much of the densely populated enclave, leaving most Gazans homeless, sparking food shortages that threaten famine and incapacitating most hospitals.