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Russian Woman Charged With Interfering With 2018 Elections

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

In the first case of its kind involving the upcoming election, the Justice Department Friday announced that a Russian national has been charged with conspiracy to interfere in the U.S. political system, including the 2018 midterm election.

“Today’s charges allege that Russian national Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova conspired with others who were part of a Russian influence campaign to interfere with U.S. democracy,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers in a statement. “Our nation is built upon a hard-fought and unwavering commitment to democracy. Americans disagree in good faith on all manner of issues, and we will protect their right to do so. Unlawful foreign interference with these debates debases their democratic integrity, and we will make every effort to disrupt it and hold those involved accountable.”

In a criminal complaint, authorities alleged that Khusyaynova, 44, of St. Petersburg, Russia, served as the chief accountant of “Project Lakhta,” a Russian umbrella effort funded by Russian oligarch Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin and two companies he controls, Concord Management and Consulting LLC, and Concord Catering.

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

The financial documents she controlled include detailed expenses for activities in the United States, such as expenditures for activists, advertisements on social media platforms, registration of domain names, the purchase of proxy servers and “promoting news postings on social networks,” the Justice Department alleged in a press release.

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, the Justice Department said. Between January and June 2018 alone, Project Lakhta’s proposed operating budget totaled more than $10 million.

Those involved, the Justice Department alleged,  “took extraordinary” steps to make it appear as if they were ordinary American political activists. This included the use of virtual private networks and other means to disguise their activities and to obfuscate their Russian origin.

 


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