US charges Russian woman for interfering in 2018 midterm election | News | DW | 19.10.2018
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US charges Russian woman for interfering in 2018 midterm election

The US has indicted a Russian woman for meddling in the upcoming US midterm elections. The woman worked for a company that had already been indicted for its alleged role in influencing the 2016 presidential elections.

The United States on Friday charged a Russian woman for her alleged role in a Kremlin-backed plan that aimed to influence next month's congressional elections.

The complaint said the suspect was the chief accountant for Project Lakhta, an operation started in 2014 and funded by Russian oligarch Evgeny Viktorovich Prigozhin and two companies he controls, Concord Management and Consulting LLC and Concord Catering.

It is alleged that the 44-year-old Russian national worked to finance social media campaigns aimed at sowing distrust in candidates and hindering the work of federal agencies.

Read more: Russian meddling: US intelligence heads warn 'Our democracy itself is in the crosshairs'

The indictment came as US intelligence agencies said in a joint statement that they were concerned about efforts by Russia, China and Iran to influence US voters and policy.

The indictment went on to say that the suspect had "conspired with others who were part of a Russian influence campaign to interfere with US democracy," according to Assistant Attorney General John Demers.

Using social media and other avenues, the conspirators participated in "information warfare against the United States," and attempted to create a distrust of candidates for US political office and the US political system, the complaint read.

Links to 2016 election meddling

According to prosecutors, the woman worked for the same social media "troll farm" that was indicted earlier this year by special counsel Robert Mueller as part of his investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the 2016 Donald Trump presidential campaign.

Read more: Maria Butina: NRA member, lobbyist, and Kremlin spy?

Prigozhin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was already indicted in February along with 12 others for disinformation campaigns during the 2016 US presidential election.

During that time, they pushed out millions of postings on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms in an attempt to stir up animosity between political camps and groups in society.

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Foreign influence campaigns

A joint statement released by four intelligence and law enforcement agencies on Friday said methods of influencing used by China, Iran and Russia included the use of social media to amplify divisive issues, seeding disinformation about political candidates and sponsoring content in English-language media.

The United States is concerned about the foreign campaigns "to undermine confidence in democratic institutions and influence public sentiment and government policies," the statement said.

"Adversaries target US elections to divide America along political lines and influence key policy decisions that are in their national interest," it added.

law/sms (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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