Published: Sun, October 21, 2018
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Russian is first to be charged with meddling in 2018 midterm elections

Russian is first to be charged with meddling in 2018 midterm elections

In June, Mueller said in a filing in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., that the government believes foreign "individuals and entities" are continuing to "engage in interference operations like those charged in the present indictment". The goal was not necessarily to espouse one political ideology over another, prosecutors say, but rather "create and amplify divisive social and political content" including on significant current events such as deadly shootings in SC and Las Vegas, prosecutors said.

Federal prosecutors in Virginia said Khusyaynova's work was part of an effort orchestrated by Yevgeniy Prigozhin, an oligarch known as "Putin's chef" who has already been charged for interference in the 2016 election.

Project Lakhta has a budget of $35m, but not all of their projects are directed at the USA, according to officials.

United States intelligence officials on Friday said they were anxious about "ongoing campaigns" by Russia, China, Iran and other countries to undermine confidence in American democracy.

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 USA presidential race, improve Donald Trump's profile and damage that of Hillary Clinton.

"It is a global campaign for a regime that views democracy as an existential threat", said John Carlin, former US Assistant Attorney General for National Security.

An itemized budget for Project Lakhta totaled about $1 million USA dollars for February 2017, according to the complaint. Operatives were given specific instructions for framing news stories and attacking key American figures, including Rep. Paul Ryan and special counsel Robert Mueller. The complaint also doesn't allege that any American knowingly participated in the Project Lakhta operation.

"Just a friendly reminder to vote in the 2018 Midterms", said a tweet from the IRA-controlled pro-Trump account @johncopper16 on March 22.

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

The conspirators "took extraordinary steps to make it appear that they were ordinary American political activists", prosecutors wrote.

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. "Over time, these accounts became the conspiracy's primary means to reach significant numbers of Americans for purposes of interfering with the USA political system". "These activities also may seek to influence voter perceptions and decision making in the 2018 and 2020 US elections".

The criminal complaint unsealed Friday "demonstrates that our elections continue to be a target for our adversaries", the Homeland Security Department said in a statement.

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