Russian is first to be charged with meddling in 2018 midterm elections

Marsha Scott
October 20, 2018

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.

The Justice Department disclosed the criminal complaint soon after US intelligence agencies said in a joint statement that they were concerned about efforts by Russia, China and Iran to influence USA voters and policy. According to the complaint, between January 2016 and June 2018, the project had a proposed budget of more than $35 million, though not all of that was spent on operations in the U.S. The Russians tried to hide these activities by classifying expenditures for Project Lakhta as software support and development, the complaint alleges.

Federal authorities have charged a Russian woman for allegedly taking part in a Russian plot to interfere in the upcoming 2018 midterms elections and other politically-charged events inside the United States, the DOJ announced, October 19, 2018.

The criminal complaint alleges that Russians are using some of the same techniques to influence US politics as they relied on ahead of the 2016 presidential election, methods laid bare by an investigation from special counsel Robert Mueller into possible coordination between Russia and Donald Trump's campaign. The company's USA lawyer, Eric Dubelier of Reed Smith, won a significant legal point this week when the presiding judge ordered Mueller's prosecutors to justify the charges they'd brought against Concord.

In his comments, Trump cast blame on his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, who he said, "didn't lift a finger" to stop Russian meddling in 2016, and said that his administration has "done a lot to protect the elections coming up very shortly".

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A criminal complaint filed against the woman charges that she managed the finances of Project Lakhta, including detailed expenses for activities in the USA such as paying for activists, advertisements on social media, registering domain names, the purchase of proxy servers, and promoting news postings on social media.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said recently that Russia has no intention to interfere in the midterm elections in the USA or meddle elsewhere. "These accounts also were used to advocate for the election or electoral defeat of particular candidates in the 2016 and 2018 US elections". What remains to be seen is how and whether Mueller can connect President Trump or his campaign to those efforts.

Their postings did not exclusively reflect one ideological viewpoint, and the operatives were directed to create "political intensity through supporting radical groups" and to "aggravate the conflict between minorities and the rest of the population", the Justice Department said.

Former FBI Director James B. Comey faced criticism for talking publicly on the eve of the election about the bureau resuming its investigation of Hillary Clinton, while keeping secret the separate probe into possible ties between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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