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Russian Woman Accused of Trying to Sway Midterms

20 October 2018
Russian Woman Accused of Trying to Sway Midterms

They have been accused of embedding ideas of distrust amongst United States political candidates, using information warfare to effectively interfere in the election voting process.

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

A Russian national was charged by the USA for allegedly being one of the masterminds behind a conspiracy to interfere in both the 2016 and 2018 elections, marking the first charges related to next month's congressional midterm vote.

The ODNI statement did not, however, say that such efforts had taken place.

Prigozhin, sometimes dubbed "Putin's chef" because he has managed catering for the Russian leader, was already indicted in February along with 12 other IRA employees over their disinformation campaigns during the 2016 presidential election.

The concerned about the foreign campaigns "to undermine confidence in democratic institutions and influence public sentiment and government policies", said the statement from national security officials.

Prosecutors said the accused is the chief accountant for a Russian venture named Project Lakhta, funded by a Russian oligarch whose Concord companies were named in Robert Mueller's July indictment regarding attempted interference in the 2016 election.

The campaign aimed to boost Donald Trump's chances of winning the presidency, according to USA intelligence.

Project Lakhta has a budget of $35m, but not all of their projects are directed at the U.S., according to officials. Between January 2016 and June 2018, Project Lakhta's proposed operating budget totaled more than $35 million, although only a portion of these funds were directed at the United States.

Khusyaynova, according to the complaint, assembled and submitted to Concord Management an itemized budget that broke down expenses by categories like rent, utilities, and garbage disposal, as well the costs of registering domain names and buying advertisements on various social media platforms.

While all of the social media identities cited in the indictment have since been removed or blocked, postings by others show their messages were frequently liked, forwarded, and retweeted.

The accounts were used "to create and amplify divisive social and political content targeting USA audiences".

This comes after U.S. intelligence officials said they feared "ongoing campaigns" by Russia, China, Iran and other states to influence USA voters.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Justice Department, FBI and Department of Homeland Security said they do not have any evidence that anyone went far enough to prevent voting or change vote counts.