Russian woman charged with USA election-meddling

Russian Woman Accused of Trying to Sway Midterms

Elena Khusyaynova, the woman charged by the DOJ, was apparently the chief accountant for this project funded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch who's been referred to as "Putin's chef".

They statement did not provide specific examples of foreign interference.

The case, Wray said, "serves as a stark reminder to all Americans: our foreign adversaries continue their efforts to interfere in our democracy by creating social and political division, spreading distrust in our political system, and advocating for the support or defeat of particular political candidates".

Khusyaynova and Project Lakhta are tied to the Russian agencies named in special counsel Robert Mueller's July federal indictment in Washington, D.C., against 12 Russian nationals for allegedly hacking the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Neither Khusyaynova nor the alleged conspiracy operation is accused of producing "any effect" on election results, the news release said.

She is accused of playing a key financial role in a Kremlin-backed plan to conduct "information warfare" against the USA, including to influence next month's congressional elections.

Prosecutors say the conduct singled out on Friday runs afoul of criminal laws that bar foreign nationals from attempting to influence American elections, or from engaging in political activities without first registering with the attorney general.

"This effort was not only created to spread distrust towards candidates for US political office and the USA political system in general, but also to defraud the United States by impeding the lawful functions of government agencies in administering relevant federal requirements", according to the department.

Operating under an umbrella organization called "Project Lakhta", Khusyaynova and her alleged conspirators used fake identities online to pretend to be "ordinary American political activists", prosecutors said.

The criminal complaint unsealed on Friday makes Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, 44, the first individual to be indicted for attempting to interfere in the 2018 USA elections, according to a government official with knowledge of the matter. He has been hit with sanctions by the US government. "Some social media accounts posted tens of thousands of messages, and had tens of thousands of followers".

The foreign influence scheme, dubbed "Project Lakhta", was intended "to sow division and discord in the United States political system", the DOJ complaint alleges, by stoking such hot-button issues as immigration, the Confederate flag, gun control and NFL players "taking a knee" during the national anthem.

Companies such as Facebook and Twitter provided "exceptional cooperation" to officials probing the allegations, the news release said.

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