Russia

Russian Charged With Interfering in the 2018 Midterm Election

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia have indicted a Russian woman who appears to be an accountant at the center of an ongoing campaign to polarize Americans and influence our elections.

A press release from the Department of Justice details the charges against Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, a Russian national from St. Petersburg, including her role as a money manager for the ongoing campaign.

Khusyaynova allegedly 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.” 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. Between January and June 2018 alone, Project Lakhta’s proposed operating budget totaled more than $10 million. [...]

The alleged conspiracy, in which Khusyaynova is alleged to have played a central financial management role, sought to conduct what it called internally “information warfare against the United States.” This effort was not only designed to spread distrust towards candidates for U.S. political office and the U.S. political system in general, but also to defraud the United States by impeding the lawful functions of government agencies in administering relevant federal requirements.

Just as we've seen in the past, the Russians involved in this ongoing operation have been amplifying divisive messages on both sides of the ideological isle, often writing from "opposing perspectives," according to the Justice Department, meaning they wrote contradictory messages because the primary goal is to stir shit up.

According to the Justice Department, Khusyaynova's project, known as Project Lakhta, was funded by Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin.

You may recognize Prigozhin as the Russian oligarch who has often been referred to as "Putin's chef."

Prigozin was indicted by special prosecutor Robert Mueller in February of this year. Mueller's team has taken steps to broaden their investigation and spread it around to multiple federal jurisdictions over the past year. It's not clear if this is part of that effort, but I suspect it is. Sharing information collected by Mueller's team with other prosecutors and including some of the details in other indictments makes it far more difficult if not impossible to disappear it.

  • muselet

    I’m with TPM commenter “readerfromcalif”, that the sophistication of Russian trolling has increased so much and so quickly, there has to be American involvement of some kind.

    What was it Deep Throat conseled Woodward and Bernstein in All the President’s Men? “Follow the money.”

    –alopecia

  • katanahamon

    Also the Repub in Georgia, the state, has purged over 340,000 people from the rolls prior to the election he’s running in. Ethics, much? Rump has cancelled the military exercises in South Korea, is considering pulling out of a nuclear agreement withRussia, is facing numerous cases against the US from the WTO and may withdraw from that, has praised an attack on a Guardian journalist in the midst of the Khashoggi affair. That’s just today….