Justice Department charges Russian woman for 2018 midterm election interference

Justice Department charges Russian woman for 2018 midterm election interference

Justice Department charges Russian woman for 2018 midterm election interference

A US indictment charging a Russian national with playing a prominent role in a Kremlin-backed plan to conduct "information warfare" to influence the USA midterm elections suggested that Russian influence operations have become more sophisticated since a campaign to impact the USA 2016 presidential election.

Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, 44, became the first person charged with a crime for attempting to interfere in the 2018 USA midterm elections, according to a government official with knowledge of the investigation.

According to the Department of Justice, the influence operation did not have any effect on the outcome of any election but may have had success in its goal of dividing Americans and sowing distrust in the American political process. The company's USA lawyer, Eric Dubelier of Reed Smith, won a significant legal point this week when the presiding judge ordered Mueller's prosecutors to justify the charges they'd brought against Concord.

To carry out the campaign, Khusyaynova allegedly prepared "hundreds of financial vouchers, budgets and payment requests for Project Lakhta entities, often putting all company names on the same paperwork and identifying them as part of Project Lakhta", the complaint states.

According to the complaint, Russians used fake personas on social media to inflame arguments about "race, gun rights, voter fraud and other contentious issues".

It also says that between January 2016 and June 2018, Project Lakhta had a proposed budget of more than $35 million for all of its operations. They adopted a variety of ideological perspectives, writing on varied topics and from opposing views, prosecutors said.

"Members of the conspiracy were directed, among other things, to create "political intensity through supporting radical groups" and to "aggravate the conflict between minorities and the rest of the population".

The Khusyaynova case shows "in detail that when we talk about Russian interference it is not something in history it is now", Carlin said. Prior to this, Washington's intelligence accused Moscow of meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

The conclusion reached by Americans spymasters led the US Department of Justice to appoint former Federal Bureau of Investigation director Robert Mueller to investigate foreign attempts to influence the US electoral system.

"The complaint states that Khusyaynova, 44, of St. Petersburg, Russia, served as the chief accountant of "Project Lakhta", a Russian umbrella effort funded by Russian oligarch Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin and two companies he controls: Concord Management and Consulting LLC and Concord Catering". The group was indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller in February.

Citing two Russian state-controlled media outlets, a joint statement on Friday by the Justice Department, FBI, Homeland Security Department and Office of the Director of National Intelligence said the effort includes a campaign to "amplify divisive issues, sponsoring specific content in English-language media like RT and Sputnik, seeding disinformation through sympathetic spokespersons regarding political candidates and disseminating foreign propaganda".

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