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Russian accused of interference in mid-term US elections

The US Justice Department on Friday filed a lawsuit against Russia’s Elena Alekseevna Khusyanova for her alleged role in a Russian conspiracy to interfere in the US political system, including in mid-term elections, which must take place in just a few weeks.

According to the prosecution, Khusianova was the chief accountant of the “Lakhta Project”, allegedly financed by the Russian oligarch Viktorovich Prigozhine and two companies under his control, Concord Management and Consulting and Concord Catering.

By using social media and other means, the participants in this conspiracy have waged an “information war” against the United States, attempting to sow discord and fuel mistrust of US election candidates and the system. US policy, can we still read in the lawsuit.

Ms. Khoussianova has managed millions of dollars for her boss’s businesses. Part of this money was spent on social media ads in the United States, domain names and “promotion of social media news articles.”

The conspirators “took extraordinary actions to give the impression that they were ordinary American political activists,” prosecutors said.

Facebook, again and again

In documents released Friday by the US justice, it appears that the conspirators have launched a campaign of advertising purchases in social media, and this, since 2015. For example, between January and June of this year, Ms. Khoussianova has bought at least US $ 60,000 in Facebook ads and at least US $6,000 in advertisements on its Instagram affiliate, according to the documents.

These purchases were made even though the social media giant, taken to task by the American political class precisely because of the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, put in place control measures to prevent that such steps do not happen again.

This spring, Facebook and Twitter , the latter also used by trolls to facilitate Russian interference, have adopted these new rules. “As of today, all election-related advertising and [general interest] topics on Facebook and Instagram in the United States must be clearly identified, including a” pay-per-view “endorsement. the advertiser above advertising, “said Facebook’s product management director Rob Leathern.

A file known to the special prosecutor

Prigozhine’s two companies are linked to the three Russian entities and 13 individuals who were indicted in February by the special prosecutor Robert Mueller, in connection with an alleged criminal conspiracy and espionage aimed at destabilizing the most. recent US presidential campaign, to strengthen support for Donald Trump and to harm his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Prigozhine, who was one of those personally accused by Mr. Mueller, was nicknamed the “Putin cook” by the Russian media, due to the fact that his catering company organized banquets for Russian President Vladimir Putin and other important politicians. The oligarch was also targeted by sanctions imposed by the US government.

Last July, Mueller’s office also accused 12 Russian intelligence agents of hacking the Democratic Party’s computer networks, in parallel with the Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

Meanwhile, several US law enforcement and intelligence agencies said on Friday that they still worry about attempts by Russia, China, Iran and other foreign groups to interfere in the electoral process. mid-term.

So far, it says, there is no evidence that anyone has tried to prevent voters from voting or changing the results. Some state or local governments, which manage the polls, reported attempts to intrude on their computer networks, but officials were able to “block access or quickly reduce the scale of these attempts,” said the agencies.

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