Russian woman charged with interfering in U.S. midterm elections

Russian woman charged with political interference in next month's midterm elections

A St. Petersburg building believed to be the headquarters of the Internet Research Agency

The charges, filed Friday in the Eastern District of Virginia, accuse Elena A. Khusyaynova of St. Petersburg with using social media platforms to create thousands of social media and e-mail accounts - appearing to be from USA persons - to "create and amplify divisive social media and political content".

Concord Management and Concord Catering were among the three entities and 13 Russian individuals who were indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office in February in an alleged criminal and espionage conspiracy to tamper with the 2016 U.S. presidential race, boost Trump and disparage his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Topics discussed included gun control, gay rights, the women's march, and the debate over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem, the outlet reported, as well as talking about the Las Vegas shooting and the Charlottesville rally.

Khusyaynova is a resident of St. Petersburg, Russia, and is not in US custody.

She allegedly spent millions in an operation called Project Lakhta, buying advertising on social media, acquiring internet domain names, and pushing "news postings on social networks".

The criminal complaint unsealed on Friday makes 44-year-old Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova the first individual to be indicted for attempting to interfere in the November elections, according to a government official with knowledge of the matter.

The charges come as top US law enforcement and intelligence agencies warn Americans about ongoing efforts by Russia, China and other foreign actors to interfere in the 2018 midterm and 2020 presidential elections.

US intelligence officials say they're concerned about "ongoing campaigns" by Russia, China, Iran and other countries to undermine confidence in American democracy.

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Intelligence officials said previous year that Russian Federation sought to influence the 2016 presidential election through similar means. The statement, which provided no details about any such efforts, said, "These activities also may seek to influence voter perceptions and decision-making in the 2018 and 2020 USA elections".

Justice Department officials believe she helped manage the finances of Project Lakhta, a branch of the Kremlin's foreign influence operations. They also distribute propaganda and plant disinformation against political candidates, the departments said.

"Currently, we do not have any evidence of a compromise or disruption of infrastructure that would enable adversaries to prevent voting, change vote counts or disrupt our ability to tally votes in the midterm elections", the agencies said.

- An article that allegedly described "the 8 dirtiest scandals" of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.

Far more hacking activity occurred ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

China has denied that it is interfering in USA affairs.

Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said his country has no intention to interfere in the midterm elections in the U.S. or meddle elsewhere.

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