US Attorney’s Office charges 13 Russians with US elections tampering

US Attorney’s Office charges 13 Russians with US elections tampering

The US Attorney's Office accuses 13 Russians of meddling in the US politics and the US presidential elections.

The US Attorney's Office produced an indictment saying 13 Russians are suspected of meddling in the US presidential elections, according to Reuters. The list of suspects is available on the US Department of Justice's website.

The following people are on the list - Evgeny Viktorovich Prigozhin, Mikhail Ivanovich Bystrov, Mikhail Leonidovich Burchik aka Mikhail Abramov, Aleksandra Yuryevna Krylova, Anna Vladislavovna Bogacheva, Sergey Pavlovich Polozov, Maria Anatolyevna Bovda aka Maria Anatolyevna Belyaeva, Robert Sergeyevich Bovda, Dzheykhun Nasimi Ogly Aslanov aka Dzheykhun Aslanov, Vadim Vladimirovich Podkopaev, Gleb Igorevich Vasilchenko, and Vladimir Venkov.

The following companies are on the list, among others: Internet Research Agency (referred to as the “Organization”), Concord Management, and Concord Catering.

Their goal was to “support Donald Trump and disparage Hillary Clinton.” Some of those charged, posing as Americans, communicated with individuals associated with the Trump campaign, according to the committee. They would not mention who they represented.

“They stole the identities of real people in the US to post online and built computer systems in the US to hide the Russian origin of their activity,” Mueller said.

The Organization members also created thematic group pages on social media sites that addressed a range of issues, including immigration, rights of people of color in the US, religion (United Muslims of America and Army of Jesus), and certain geographic regions within the US (South United and Heart of Texas).

Moreover, the @TEN_GOP account, later linked to the Russians, “falsely claimed to be controlled by a U.S. state political party,” according to the indictment, which notes over time the account attracted more than 100,000 followers. There were other similar accounts

A “Support Hillary, Save American Muslims” rally was also part of a project to disparage Hillary Clinton. The defendants also ordered a poster with a quote attributed to Clinton that read “I think Sharia Law will be a powerful new direction of freedom.”

They also launched a number of other campaigns supporting both candidates. For example, the defendants attempted organizing rallies in support of the president-elect in November 2016, after Trump had already won the elections. They also attempted organizing rallies against him using the “Donald Trump is Not My President” slogan, as well as initiatives to protest the elections results. The indictment describes a sophisticated, multi-year and well-funded operation, dubbed “Project Lakhta,” by Concord Management to fund Organization and influence the election. Evgeny Prikhozhin was in charge of Concord Management, while Mikhail Bystrov and Mikhail Burchik were its CEO and COO respectively, according to the indictment.

Aleksandra Krylova would visit the US and gather information for the Organization. Sergey Polozov was responsible for the IT department. Anna Bogacheva was responsible for translation. The other project participants were mostly responsible for posting. Gleg Vasilchenko was responsible for publishing.

Alleged listed individual, Mikhail Burchik, mentioned in the US Attorney's Office indictment on interference in US elections, told RBC he does not work in the Organization, so the accusations of the American authorities seem strange for him. In addition, he added that his English is not good enough to understand what exactly he is accused of.

According to SPARK database, Burchik is the former owner and the former director general of Agentstvo Kommercheskikh Novostey (‘Commercial News Agency’) LLC, as well as a former co-owner of Sirius SPB LLC. “Since several hundred million Americans are so worried about the activities of a regular Russian individual entrepreneur and site developer, the situation in their country must be very difficult,” Burchik told RBC.

Gleb Vasilchenko is another suspect on the list. In the indictment, he is mentioned as the person responsible for posting on social media while posing as US citizens. Vasilchenko stated he was not involved with the Internet Research Agency (also dubbed the “troll farm”). He claimed the person on the sanction list is his namesake. Meanwhile, his former colleague told RBC he, in fact, used to work for the “troll farm” in St. Petersburg.

“I have never been fond of the US, I like living in Russia,” Vasilchenko answered when asked whether he would visit the US as a tourist after what happened.

“Americans are very sensitive people who see what they want to see. I have great respect for them,” Evgeny Prigozhin answered when RIA Novosti asked for his opinion on the accusations. “If they want to see the devil that is their choice,” he added.

The Kremlin is yet to read through the Department of Justice's accusations, according to Press Secretary for the Russian President Dmitry Peskov.

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