Elena Khusyaynova, a resident of St. Petersburg, Russia, has been charged by the Justice Department with trying to interfere in next month’s U.S. midterm elections.
Khusyaynova is allegedly connected to the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency, whose employees were included in special counsel Robert Mueller’s February indictments for their roles in Russian election interference in 2016.
Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, 44, was allegedly the chief accountant for “Project Lakhta,” the disinformation effort spearheaded by the Internet Research Agency, which has been described as a “troll farm” for its prolific output of inflammatory and often false social media posts. The organization is funded by Yevgeniy Viktorovich, an oligarch with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
NBC News reports Khusyaynova is charged “with using social media platforms to create thousands of social media and e-mail accounts — appearing to be from U.S. persons — to ‘create and amplify divisive social media and political content.'”
Khusyaynova’s efforts “are alleged to have pushed specific messaging tied to Robert Mueller” that focused on “attacks on his credibility,” per NBC News’ Tom Winter.
The Justice Department notes the “alleged activities did not exclusively adopt one ideological view” and targeted politicians on both sides of the aisle.
The charges against Khusyaynova, which are not part of Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference, are the first to be made relating to meddling in the 2018 midterm elections. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats recently cited evidence of broader “ongoing campaigns by Russia, China and other foreign actors, including Iran, to undermine confidence in democratic institutions.”