Russian Woman Accused of Trying to Sway Midterms

Justice Dept. charges Russian woman with interference in Midterm elections

Since at least 2015, the group created thousands of false 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.

Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, 44, was the chief accountant of a Russian operation called "Project Lakhta", which was "funded by Russian oligarch Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin and two companies he controls, Concord Management and Consulting LLC, and Concord Catering", a news release said.

In an odd bit of timing, the indictment was announced just minutes after the Office of the Director of National Intelligence expressed concern that China, Iran and Russian Federation could seek to undermine confidence in the November 6 mid-term elections, when control of the US Congress is up for grabs.

Those two companies were among three entities and 13 Russian individuals who were indicted by Mr Mueller's office in an alleged criminal and espionage conspiracy to tamper with the 2016 United States presidential race, improve Donald Trump's profile and damage that of Hillary Clinton. They used social media platforms to create thousands of social media and email accounts that appeared to be operated by US persons, and used them to create and amplify divisive social and political content targeting USA audiences.

Officials say the alleged "conspiracy" sought to pit Americans against each other.

Prigozhin, who was among those personally charged by Mueller, has been dubbed "Putin's cook" by Russian media because his catering business has organized banquets for Russian President Vladimir Putin and other senior political figures. "Emphasize that John McCain's pathological hatred towards Donald Trump and all his initiatives crosses all reasonable borders and limits", organizers urged.

"The strategic goal of this alleged conspiracy, which continues to this day, is to sow discord in the US political system and to undermine faith in our democratic institutions", US Attorney Zachary Terwilliger said in a statement.

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"Special Prosecutor Mueller is a puppet of the establishment".

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian Federation sought to influence the 2016 presidential election in favour of Donald Trump.

The Internet Research Agency "tampered with, altered, or caused a misappropriation of information with the objective or effect of interfering with or undermining election processes and institutions", specifically the 2016 USA presidential race, the Treasury Department said earlier this year.

Also Friday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence warned that "ongoing campaigns" by Russia, China, and Japan were underway to influence the midterms and the 2020 elections.

Other countries are using social media to amplify divisive issues in American society and sponsor content in English-language media, such as Russia's RT and Sputnik news outlets, the security agencies' statement said.

China has denied that it is interfering in United States affairs.

"Some state and local governments have reported attempts to access their networks, which often include online voter registration databases, using tactics that are available to state and nonstate cyber actors", they said.

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