The US government on Friday October 19th charged a Russian national with playing a key financial role in a Kremlin-backed plan to conduct "information warfare" against the United States, including ongoing attempts to influence next month's congressional elections.
According to a government official with knowledge of the investigation, Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, 44, became the first person charged with a crime for attempting to interfere in the 2018 US midterm elections.
As reported by Reuters, she was the chief accountant for Project Lakhta, an operation started in 2014 and financed by a Russian oligarch close to President Vladimir Putin and two companies he controls.
The case against Khusyaynova was unsealed on the same day that US law enforcement and intelligence agencies issued a warning about attempts by Russia, China, Iran and other foreign entities to interfere with November 6th congressional elections.
The complaint detailed new examples of Russians using fake personas on social media to stoke divisions over race, gun rights, voter fraud and other contentious issues. Some messages targeted next month's elections, indicating the operation has not been deterred by Mueller's indictments earlier this year.
A former US Attorney in Michigan, Barbara McQuade, said, “This one shows that the threat from Russia is not over. This is a true propaganda war.”
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov commented in a statement: “Washington, having spread shameless lies about the mythical 'hand of Moscow' for more than two years, is now trying to play the same card ahead of the approaching US Election Day.”