Russian National Charged With Attempting To Interfere In 2018 Midterms

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza/Public Domain

Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynov is charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States for her part in election meddling.

A Russian alleged to have participated in the funding of online propaganda efforts during both the 2016 presidential election and 2018 midterms was charged with a federal crime on Friday, according to CNN.

> Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, 44, of St. Petersburg, Russia, is charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States for managing the financing of the social media troll operation that included the Internet Research Agency, which special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators charged with crimes earlier this year.

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> Prosecutors who unsealed the complaint Friday say she aided the Russian effort to "inflame passions" online related to immigration, gun control and the Second Amendment, the Confederate flag, race relations, LGBT issues, the Women's March and the NFL National Anthem debate from December 2016 until May 2018.

CNN reported the efforts focused specifically on the church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina; the shooting at a concert in Las Vegas; the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia; and police shootings of unarmed black men, per the complaint.

> The criminal charge says the Russians' online manipulation effort focused on multiple political viewpoints and candidates, but frequently zeroed in on the Republican Party's most well-known leaders.

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> In one effort to spread an online news article about the late Sen. John McCain's position on a border wall to stop illegal immigration, an alleged conspirator directed others to "brand McCain as an old geezer." They also attempted to paint House Speaker Paul Ryan as "a complete and absolute nobody incapable of any decisiveness" and as a "two-faced loudmouth."

The operation had a $35 million budget, according to prosecutors, who allege the efforts were funded by Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin and his companies.

> "The conspiracy has a strategic goal, which continues to this day, to sow division and discord in the US political system, including by creating social and political polarization, undermining faith in democratic institutions, and influencing US elections, including the upcoming 2018 midterm election," the criminal complaint in the Eastern District of Virginia said Friday.

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> The online scheme directed its proponents to "effectively aggravate the conflict between minorities and the rest of the population," prosecutors quoted one member of the effort saying.

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