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Published On: Sun, Feb 18th, 2018

Alleged troll factory mastermind and 12 other Russians charged with US election meddling

nsnbc : Delivering on his initial mandate by the Justice Department, U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller revealed the details of what is described as a widespread and coordinated campaign by Russians to influence the U.S. presidential elections in favor of Donald Trump.

Courtesy of Shutterstock.

Courtesy of Shutterstock.

In an indictment disclosed in Washington D.C. on Friday (published here), Robert Mueller describes a sweeping, year-long, multi-million dollar conspiracy by hundreds of Russians aimed at criticizing presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, while supporting Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Mueller charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities and accused them of defrauding the U.S. government by interfering with the political process.

The indictment notes the Internet Research Agency, a Russian organization, and the defendants began working in 2014 to interfere in U.S. elections. They used false personas and social media while also staging political rallies and communicating with “unwitting individuals” associated with the Trump campaign, it said. The documents suggest a broader conspiracy beyond the pages of indictment, sayin the grand jury has heard about other people with whom the Russians allegedly conspired in their efforts.

The office of the Special Counsel said none of the defendants was in custody. In a planning memo from February 10, 2016, the Russians were reportedly instructed to “use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump who were to be supported)”. The operations also denigrated candidates including Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, Trump’s rivals in the 2016 Republican primary, the indictment said.

The efforts reportedly included contact with “unwitting” Trump campaign officials, with the goal of “impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful government functions” including the election. The group also bought advertisements on U.S. social media, created numerous Twitter accounts designed to appear as if they were U.S. groups or people, according to the indictment. One fake account, @TEN_GOP account, attracted more than 100,000 online followers.

The Russians reportedly tracked the metrics of their effort in reports and budgeted for their efforts. Some traveled to the U.S. to gather intelligence for the surreptitious campaign, according to the indictment. They allegedly also used stolen U.S. identities, including fake driver’s licenses, and contacted news media outlets to promote their activities. In September 2016, the group ordered one worker to “intensify criticizing Hillary Clinton” after a review found insufficient anti-Clinton activity.

The indictment lists the plaintiff as United States of America v Internet Agency LLC, a.k.a. Mediasintez LLC, a.k.a. Glavset LLC, a.k.a. Novinfo LLC, a.k.a. Concord Management and Consulting LLC, a.k.a. Yevgeny Victorovich Prigozhin, Mikhail Ivanovich Bystrov, Mikhail Leonidovich Burchik, a.k.a.  Mikhail Abramov, Aleksandra Yuryevna Krylova, nna Vladislavona Bogacheva, Sergey Pavlovich Polozov, Maria Anatolyebna Bovda, a.k.a. Maria Anatolyevna Belyaeva, Robert Sergeyevich Bovda, Dzhykhun Nasimi Ogly Aslanov, a.k.a. Jayhoon Aslanov, a.k.a. Jay Aslanov, Vadim Vladimirovich Podkopaev, Gleb Igorevich Vasilichenko, Irina Viktorovna Kaverzina, and Vladimir Venkov as defendants.

CH/L – nsnbc 18.02.2018

Recommended related nsnbc international article from October 2017:

Russian troll factory uses good-old Soviet-style subversion

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