According to Global News , a Russian woman was charged by the United States government last Friday for overseeing the finances of a wide-scale attempt to sway public opinion. 44-year-old Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova is the first person to be charged for electoral interference in the 2018 election, according to an unnamed government official with knowledge of the investigation.
The new case of Russian meddling was unsealed by prosecutors from the Eastern District of Virginia. The same day these allegations were released, U.S law enforcement and intelligence agencies issued a statement expressing series concerns over attempts by Russia, China, Iran and other foreign powers to meddle in the congressional elections this November, where Trump and the GOP are attempting to retain majority control of the national legislature.
The allegations against Khusyaynova claim the Russians are using similar techniques to influence U.S politics as they did in the lead up to the 2018 presidential election. These methods had been confirmed after special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between Russia and President’s Trump’s campaign. Prosecutors claim Khusyaynova managed the finances of a Russian media effort to spread distrust of American candidates and cause national division.
One fake persona, under the alias “Bertha Malone”, registered over 400 Facebook posts of inflammatory content. One post claimed that former President Obama has ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. Another fake Facebook account, under the name of “Rachell Edison”, made over 700 posts focused on gun control and 2nd amendment rights.
Khusyaynova was the chief accountant for Project Lakhta, an operation founded in 2014. According to the criminal complaint, the financial resources are received from Evgeny Viktorovich Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch who controls two major Russian companies: Concord Management and Consulting LLC.
In February, Prigozhin and his two companies had been indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s separate investigation on Russia’s meddling to boost Donald Trump over his opponent Hilary Clinton.
However, these allegations show recent examples of Russians using fake personas on social media to stir up political controversy on divisive issues. Examples include text messages targeting next month’s elections, implying Mueller’s indictments have not deterred Russian meddling operations.
Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. Attorney from Michigan, stated:
“This one shows that the threat from Russia is not over. This is a true propaganda war.”