Thirteen Russians criminally charged for interfering in US election, Mueller announcesThe Guardian
February 16, 2018
Thirteen Russians have been criminally charged for interfering in the 2016 US election to help Donald Trump, the office of Robert Mueller, the special counsel, announced on Friday.
Mueller's office said 13 Russians and three Russian entities, including the notorious state-backed "troll farm" the Internet Research Agency, had been indicted by a federal grand jury in Washington DC.
A 37-page indictment alleges that the Russians' operations "included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J Trump ... and disparaging Hillary Clinton," his Democratic opponent.
The Russians allegedly posed as Americans to operate bogus social media accounts, buy advertisements and stage political rallies. 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, according to the indictment.
The charges state that from as far back as 2014, the defendants conspired together to defraud the US by "impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful functions of government" through interference with the American political and electoral processes.
One defendant, Yevgeniy Prigozhin, is accused of using companies he controlled - including Concord Management and Consulting, and Concord Catering - to finance the operations against the US. The operation at one stage had a monthly budget of $1.25m, according to Mueller, which paid for operatives' salaries and bonuses.
Events were organised by Russians posing as Trump supporters and as groups opposed to Trump such as Black Lives Matter, according to prosecutors, and one advertisement shortly before the election promoted the Green party candidate Jill Stein, who is blamed by some Clinton backers for splitting the anti-Trump vote.
The individuals listed as charged are Mikhail Ivanovich Bystrov, Mikhail Leonidovich Burchik, Aleksandra Yuryevna Krylova, Anna Vladislavovna Bogacheva, Sergey Pavlovich Polozov, Maria Anatolyevna Bovda, Robert Sergeyevich Bovda, Dzheykhun Nasimi Ogly, Vadim Vladimirovich Podkopaev, Gleb Igorevitch Vasilchenko, Irina Viktorovna Kaverzina, Yevgeny Viktorovich Prigozhin and Vladimir Venkov.
All were charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States. Three defendants were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and five defendants were charged with aggravated identity theft.
US intelligence agencies previously concluded that Russians mounted an attack on the US election system aimed at electing Donald Trump to the presidency.
Mueller is conducting a criminal inquiry into interference by Russians and possible collusion by Trump's campaign. One Trump campaign aide has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. Two others have been charged with federal crimes.