Russian woman charged with US election-meddling

Russian woman charged with political interference in next month's midterm elections

A St. Petersburg building believed to be the headquarters of the Internet Research Agency

A Kremlin-friendly oligarch has allegedly continued pumping millions of dollars into the St. Petersburg troll farm that was responsible for interfering with the 2016 election.

A USA indictment charging a Russian national with playing a prominent role in a Kremlin-backed plan to conduct "information warfare" to influence the US midterm elections suggested that Russian influence operations have become more sophisticated since a campaign to impact the US 2016 presidential election.

Federal authorities have charged a Russian woman for allegedly taking part in a Russian plot to influence public opinion over the upcoming 2018 midterms elections and other politically-charged events inside the United States, the Justice Department announced Friday.

Elena A. Khusyaynova of St. Petersburg is accused of creating thousands of social media and email accounts appearing to belong to United States citizens, NBC News reported.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian Federation sought to influence the 2016 presidential election in favour of Donald Trump.

Prosecutors said Khusyaynova is the chief accountant for a Russian umbrella effort called Project Lakhta, funded by a Russian oligarch whose Concord companies were named in the July indictment brought by Mueller involving attempted meddling in the 2016 election.

The indictment was released as the head of the U.S. intelligence community issued an official warning of interference by China, Iran, and Russian Federation in the upcoming election in a possible reprise of the Moscow-tainted presidential campaign of 2016.

The Justice Department unsealed the latest criminal complaint soon after United States intelligence agencies, in a rare public statement, asserted that Russia, China, Iran and other countries were engaged in continuous efforts to influence American policy and voters in the upcoming congressional elections and beyond.

Prosecutors say Khusyaynova ran an operation funded by a Russian oligarch whose aim was to "spread distrust towards candidates for US political office and the USA political system" by bombarding social media with divisive messages on issues from immigration to gun control to the National Football League anthem protests. "These activities also may seek to influence voter perceptions and decision making in the 2018 and 2020 U.S. Elections". She is not now in US custody. Examples include attempts to influence voters through social media, sponsoring content in English language media such as the Russian outlet RT, or "seeding disinformation through sympathetic spokespersons regarding political candidates and disseminating foreign propaganda".

- An article that allegedly described "the 8 dirtiest scandals" of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.

"Currently, we 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", the agencies said.

Some state and local governments, which run polling sites, have reported attempts to access their networks, but officials were able to "prevent access or quickly mitigate these attempts", the four agencies said.

Far more hacking activity occurred ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

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