Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Justice Dept. charges Russian woman with interference in Midterm elections

Justice Dept. charges Russian woman with interference in Midterm elections Russian Woman Accused of Trying to Sway Midterms
Patty Aguilar | 20 October, 2018, 00:40

Khusyaynova allegedly managed the financing of Project Lakhta operations, including foreign influence activities directed at the United States.

Elena Khusyaynova, 44, was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States.

The U.S.is concerned about the campaigns "to undermine confidence in democratic institutions and influence public sentiment and government policies", the officials said in a joint statement.

"Today's charges allege that Russian national Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova conspired with others who were part of a Russian influence campaign to interfere with US democracy", the news release said. "These activities also may seek to influence voter perceptions and decision making in the 2018 and 2020 USA elections".

Intelligence officials said previous year that Russian Federation sought to influence the 2016 presidential election through similar means. "These accounts also were used to advocate for the election or electoral defeat of particular candidates in the 2016 and 2018 USA elections".

In July, 12 Russians were charged with hacking Democratic Party emails during the 2016 United States presidential election.

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"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", the USA attorney overseeing the case, Zach Terwilliger of the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence blasted China in a speech saying Russia's influence efforts in America pale in comparison with the covert and overt activities of the Chinese to interfere in the midterms and counter Trump's tough trade policies against Beijing.

The officials have cited largely public steps taken by China, such as aiming tariffs at politically important states and pressuring US businesses to speak out against the Trump administration.

And, according to the Justice Department, they "took advantage of specific events in the United States to anchor their themes", including the racially-motivated shooting at a Charleston, South Carolina, church three years ago that left nine people dead, and the Charlottesville "Unite the Right" rally last year that left one woman dead.

The issue is a particularly fraught one for federal prosecutors. The department identified the operation as "a Russian umbrella effort funded by Russian oligarch Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin and two companies he controls, Concord Management and Consulting LLC, and Concord Catering".

Former FBI Director James B. Comey faced criticism for talking publicly on the eve of the election about the bureau resuming its investigation of Hillary Clinton, while keeping secret the separate probe into possible ties between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign.

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