Published: Sun, October 21, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Russian charged with conspiring to interfere in US congressional elections

Russian charged with conspiring to interfere in US congressional elections

Officials say she was the chief accountant for a project to "sow discord in the U.S. political system".

Since at least 2015, the group created thousands of fake social media profiles and email accounts that appeared to be from people inside the USA and were aimed to "create and amplify divisive social and political content", including on significant current events, such as deadly shootings in SC and Las Vegas, prosecutors said in court papers.

Khusyaynova's case was unsealed at the same time law enforcement and intelligence agencies issued a warning that Russia, China, Iran and other foreign entities are attempting to interfere with November 6 congressional elections, Reuters reported.

Between January 2016 and June 2018, Project Lakhta had a proposed operating budget of more than $35 million for all of its operations, including those directed at the US.

Ms Khusyaynova was the chief accountant for "Project Lakhta", funded by Russian oligarch Evgeny Viktorovich Prigozhin who allegedly has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

On Friday, the Justice Department, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security released a joint statement ahead of the announcement of Khusyaynova's indictment that said "foreign interference in US elections is a threat to our democracy and preventing this interference is a top priority of the Federal Government".

Trump, who at a news conference in Helsinki in July with Putin cast doubt on his own intelligence agencies' findings that Russian Federation had meddled with the 2016 election, dismissed the latest charge against Russian Federation as unrelated to him.

"The conspirators allegedly took extraordinary steps to make it appear that they were ordinary American political activists", by setting up thousands of accounts made to appear to be owned by Americans, the Justice Department said.

Fake social media accounts and online personas controlled by Project Lakhta members have pushed out propaganda against both Democrats and Republicans, and even Mueller's investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

The two companies - Concord Management and Concord Catering - were among three entities and 13 Russian individuals who were indicted by Mr Mueller in February.

The indictment laid out examples of multiple Facebook and Twitter postings on American-looking accounts, some of which attacked conservatives and others progressives.

"They hate the Police They hate the Military They hate YOUR President".

"The actors also developed playbooks and strategic messaging documents that offered guidance on how to target particular social groups, including the timing of messages, the types of news outlets to use, and how to frame divisive messages", the DOJ said.

Just ahead of the indictment, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a statement expressing concern over possible election meddling.

America's justice department disclosed the latest criminal complaint soon after U.S. intelligence agencies said they were concerned about efforts by Russia, Chinaand Iran to influence United States voters and policy.

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