United States indicts Russian woman for interfering in 2018 election

Justice Dept. charges Russian woman with interference in Midterm elections

Russian Woman Accused of Trying to Sway Midterms

"The conspirators allegedly took extraordinary steps to make it appear that they were ordinary American political activists", by setting up thousands of accounts made to appear to be owned by Americans, the Justice Department said.

The complaint said Khusyaynova was the chief accountant for Project Lakhta, which it said was funded by Russian oligarch Evgeny Viktorovich Prigozhin and two companies he controls, Concord Management and Consulting LLC and Concord Catering.

In an odd bit of timing, the indictment was announced just minutes after the Office of the Director of National Intelligence expressed concern that China, Iran and Russian Federation could seek to undermine confidence in the November 6 mid-term elections, when control of the US Congress is up for grabs.

Investigating Russian interference in USA elections has largely been the purview of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III - though his probe is focused on the 2016 election and the Trump campaign.

The US 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.

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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. The social media effort outlined by prosecutors Friday largely mirrors Mueller's criminal case against three Russian companies, including the Internet Research Agency, and 13 Russians, including one is a close ally to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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The campaign aimed to boost Donald Trump's chances of winning the presidency while undermining his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, according to United States intelligence.

The new prosecution was brought not by Mueller but by the Justice Department's national security division and prosecutors from the Eastern District of Virginia.

In a statement, the Director of National Intelligence said officials "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".

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Prigozhin, sometimes dubbed "Putin's chef" because he has managed catering for the Russian leader, was already indicted in February along with 12 other IRA employees over their disinformation campaigns during the 2016 presidential election.

The Internet Research Agency "tampered with, altered, or caused a misappropriation of information with the goal or effect of interfering with or undermining election processes and institutions", specifically the 2016 United States presidential race, the Treasury Department said earlier this year.

"Some state and local governments have reported attempts to access their networks, which often include online voter registration databases, using tactics that are available to state and nonstate cyber actors", they said.

China has denied that it is interfering in USA affairs.

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