Charged Russian national 'had nothing to do with my campaign'
00:47, Oct 20, 2018
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America's justice department disclosed the latest criminal complaint soon after U.S. intelligence agencies said they were concerned about efforts by Russia, Chinaand Iran to influence United States voters and policy. According to the complaint, between January 2016 and June 2018, the project had a proposed budget of more than $35 million, though not all of that was spent on operations in the U.S. The Russians tried to hide these activities by classifying expenditures for Project Lakhta as software support and development, the complaint alleges.
The U.S.is concerned about the foreign campaigns "to undermine confidence in democratic institutions and influence public sentiment and government policies", said the statement from national security officials.
Concord Management and Concord Catering were among the three entities and 13 Russian individuals who were indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office in February in an alleged criminal and espionage conspiracy to tamper with the 2016 US presidential race, boost Trump and disparage his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Prigozhin, who was among those personally charged by Mueller, has been dubbed "Putin's cook" by Russian media because his catering business has organized banquets for Russian President Vladimir Putin and other senior political figures.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Justice Department, FBI and Department of Homeland Security said they do not have any evidence that anyone went far enough to prevent voting or change vote counts.
Those allegedly involved in the operation attempted to present themselves as Americans, the DOJ said. They also organized rallies and counter protests, per the complaint. And, by using the "thousands of social media and email accounts" that were generated, they allegedly tried "to create and amplify divisive social and political content targeting USA audiences", the news release said. Senior officials have said that while foreign actors continue to engage in activities targeting social media and election systems, they have not seen the level of activity that they witnessed in 2016. The conspirators also allegedly crafted guidance on how to react to specific news articles in a divisive manner, per the complaint.
Intelligence officials said past year that Russian Federation sought to influence the 2016 presidential election through similar means. US officials have warned repeatedly about foreign attempts to influence the 2018 Midterms.
"This effort was not only created to spread distrust towards candidates for US political office and the USA political system in general, but also to defraud the United States by impeding the lawful functions of government agencies in administering relevant federal requirements", according to the department.
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