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Grand jury indicts thirteen Russians and three Russian companies for scheme to interfere in the United States political system

This news story was published on February 16, 2018.
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Vladimir Putin, Russian President:
He would never do anything bad
to the United States, right?

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of Justice announced that a grand jury in the District of Columbia today returned an indictment presented by the Special Counsel’s Office. The indictment charges thirteen Russian nationals and three Russian companies for committing federal crimes while seeking to interfere in the United States political system, including the 2016 Presidential election. The defendants allegedly conducted what they called “information warfare against the United States,” with the stated goal of “spread[ing] distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.”

“This indictment serves as a reminder that people are not always who they appear to be on the Internet,” said Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. “The indictment alleges that the Russian conspirators want to promote discord in the United States and undermine public confidence in democracy. We must not allow them to succeed. The Department of Justice will continue to work cooperatively with other law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and with the Congress, to defend our nation against similar current and future schemes. I want to thank the federal agents and prosecutors working on this case for their exceptional service.”

According to the allegations in the indictment, twelve of the individual defendants worked at various times for Internet Research Agency LLC, a Russian company based in St. Petersburg, Russia. The other individual defendant, Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, funded the conspiracy through companies known as Concord Management and Consulting LLC, Concord Catering, and many subsidiaries and affiliates. The conspiracy was part of a larger operation called “Project Lakhta.” Project Lakhta included multiple components, some involving domestic audiences within the Russian Federation and others targeting foreign audiences in multiple countries.

Internet Research Agency allegedly operated through Russian shell companies. It employed hundreds of persons for its online operations, ranging from creators of fictitious personas to technical and administrative support, with an annual budget of millions of dollars. Internet Research Agency was a structured organization headed by a management group and arranged in departments, including graphics, search-engine optimization, information technology, and finance departments. In 2014, the agency established a “translator project” to focus on the U.S. population. In July 2016, more than 80 employees were assigned to the translator project.

Two of the defendants allegedly traveled to the United States in 2014 to collect intelligence for their American political influence operations.

To hide the Russian origin of their activities, the defendants allegedly purchased space on computer servers located within the United States in order to set up a virtual private network. The defendants allegedly used that infrastructure to establish hundreds of accounts on social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, making it appear that the accounts were controlled by persons within the United States. They used stolen or fictitious American identities, fraudulent bank accounts, and false identification documents. The defendants posed as politically and socially active Americans, advocating for and against particular political candidates. They established social media pages and groups to communicate with unwitting Americans. They also purchased political advertisements on social media.

The Russians also recruited and paid real Americans to engage in political activities, promote political campaigns, and stage political rallies. The defendants and their co-conspirators pretended to be grassroots activists. According to the indictment, the Americans did not know that they were communicating with Russians.

After the election, the defendants allegedly staged rallies to support the President-elect while simultaneously staging rallies to protest his election. For example, the defendants organized one rally to support the President-elect and another rally to oppose him—both in New York, on the same day.

On September 13, 2017, soon after the news media reported that the Special Counsel’s Office was investigating evidence that Russian operatives had used social media to interfere in the 2016 election, one defendant allegedly wrote, “We had a slight crisis here at work: the FBI busted our activity…. So, I got preoccupied with covering tracks together with my colleagues.”

The indictment includes eight criminal counts. Count One alleges a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States, by all of the defendants. The defendants allegedly conspired to defraud the United States by impairing the lawful functions of the Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of State in administering federal requirements for disclosure of foreign involvement in certain domestic activities.

Count Two charges conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud by Internet Research Agency and two individual defendants.

Counts Three through Eight charge aggravated identity theft by Internet Research Agency and four individuals.

There is no allegation in the indictment that any American was a knowing participant in the alleged unlawful activity. There is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election.

Everyone charged with a crime is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in court. At trial, prosecutors must introduce credible evidence that is sufficient to prove each defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, to the unanimous satisfaction of a jury of twelve citizens.

The Special Counsel’s investigation is ongoing. There will be no comments from the Special Counsel at this time.

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12 Responses to Grand jury indicts thirteen Russians and three Russian companies for scheme to interfere in the United States political system

  1. TIME TO WISE UP Reply Report comment

    February 19, 2018 at 5:48 pm

    All this blaming Trump for something he has nothing to do with has me thinking you bloggers are meddling with stupid blogs to help the Russians keep America off balance. This phony baloney blaming liberals and never Trumper’s are doing, feed the violence.

    Now we have a bunch of high school kids stumping for gun control on March 23. The highly organized nature of this newest attempt for gun control is more meddling by Community Organizers, liberals, and Russian interference.

    Better get your heads out of the sand.

  2. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    February 18, 2018 at 8:45 am

    The DNC and the Clinton’s aided and abetted.

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      February 18, 2018 at 2:22 pm

      Dumbass II

      • Anonymous Reply Report comment

        February 19, 2018 at 5:32 pm

        You are the dumbass here. Whats the matter the truth hurt there teach?

  3. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    February 18, 2018 at 7:14 am

    The demorats and fake news channels are too stupid to figure out they are working for the Russians and blaming Trump for collusion – stupid is as stupid does –OR is it heir plan ??? They will do anything including arcancide to gain control of the American sheeple.

  4. mint Reply Report comment

    February 18, 2018 at 7:00 am

    They need to keep the deception alive, making voting look real to those asleep.

  5. Vlad Reply Report comment

    February 17, 2018 at 3:18 pm

    Comrade this is fake news. lol

  6. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    February 17, 2018 at 8:00 am

    Only corruption with the Russians was the DNC and Clinton on the phony dossier and the compromised corruption in the FBI to impeach Trump and ruin the Republican party – The DNC is evil to the core – liar and thieves – even a few arcancides. Oh by the way you know obama was up to his knees in this shit also.

  7. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    February 16, 2018 at 7:49 pm

    Could’ve swore he was selling hot dogs at Coney Island. lol

  8. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    February 16, 2018 at 7:39 pm

    Vlad probably has top secret clearance anyways. lol

  9. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    February 16, 2018 at 6:10 pm

    What a surprise.