44-year-old Russian national, Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, has become the first person accused of “information warfare against the US” for allegedly taking part in a Russian large-scale plot directly targeting US politics, including the 2018 US midterm elections, the US Justice Department announced on Friday, October 19, 2018.
Khusyaynova allegedly served as chief accountant for “Project Lakhta” since 2014 and played a key part in spreading fake news via social media on sensitive topics such as immigration, gun control, race relations, the women’s march, school and church shootings, and various other topics that triggered protests around the US at the time. Their efforts, which were linked to Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA), aimed to create division and spread distrust in political candidates and the system.
With a $10-million budget since 2016, Project Lakhta is allegedly funded by Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch and friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and two companies he owns, Concord Management and Consulting LLC, and Concord Catering.
The money was spent on Facebook advertising, sponsored posts on social media, domain names and paid staff posing as simple US citizens or political activists as part of a major scheme targeting the US, Europe, Ukraine and Russia. Thousands of fake social media accounts posing as Americans were traced back to the Russian conspiracy, which also promoted social media posts praising US President Donald Trump and attacking politicians, including John McCain and Barack Obama.
“This case serves as a stark reminder to all Americans: Our foreign adversaries continue their efforts to interfere in our democracy by creating social and political division, spreading distrust in our political system, and advocating for the support or defeat of particular political candidates,” said Director Wray. “We take all threats to our democracy very seriously, and we’re committed to working with our partners to identify and stop these unlawful influence operations. Together, we must remain diligent and determined to protect our democratic institutions and maintain trust in our electoral process.”
*** This is a Security Bloggers Network syndicated blog from Bitdefender Labs authored by Luana Pascu. Read the original post at: https://labs.bitdefender.com/2018/10/russian-woman-is-first-charged-with-interference-in-2018-midterm-elections/