9:15 AM 2/17/2018 – Stop Letting the Russians Get Away With It, Mr. Trump – NYT Editorial

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Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks 9:15 AM 2/17/2018

NYT > Politics

News Analysis: Trump’s Conspicuous Silence Leaves a Struggle Against Russia Without a Leader

President Trump in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Friday. Mr. Trump has made little, if any public, effort to rally the nation to confront Moscow for its electoral intrusion or to defend democratic institutions against continued disruption.

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Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
Stop Letting the Russians Get Away With It, Mr. Trump
 

mikenova shared this story .

They created hundreds of social media accounts on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other sites to confuse and anger people about sensitive issues like immigration, religion and the Black Lives Matter movement — in some cases gaining hundreds of thousands of followers.

They staged rallies while pretending to be American grass-roots organizations. A poster at one “pro-Clinton” rally in July 2016 read “Support Hillary. Save American Muslims,” along with a fabricated quote attributed to Mrs. Clinton: “I think Sharia Law will be a powerful new direction of freedom.”

As the election drew nearer, they tried to suppress minority turnout and promoted false allegations of Democratic voter fraud. The specialist running one of the organization’s Facebook accounts, called “Secured Borders,” was criticized for not publishing enough posts and was told that “it is imperative to intensify criticizing Hillary Clinton.”

After the election, they continued to spread confusion and chaos, staging rallies both for and against Mr. Trump, in one case on the same day and in the same city.

All along, they took steps to cover their tracks by stealing the identities of real Americans, opening accounts on American-based servers and lying about what their money was being used for. Last September, after Facebook turned over information about Russian ad purchases to the special counsel, a specialist named Irina Kaverzina emailed a family member: “We had a slight crisis here at work: the FBI busted our activity (not a joke). So, I got preoccupied with covering tracks together with the colleagues.” Ms. Kaverzina continued, “I created all these pictures and posts, and the Americans believed that it was written by their people.”

Fake news, indeed.

Mr. Trump’s defenders, desperate to exculpate him, seized on a single word — “unwitting” — that the indictment used to describe certain “members, volunteers and supporters of the Trump campaign involved in local community outreach” who had interacted with the Russians.

In other words, as the White House subtly put it in a statement on Friday, “NO COLLUSION.” The president repeated the claim himself in a tweet, grudgingly acknowledging Russia’s “anti-US campaign,” but emphasizing that it had started “long before I announced that I would run for President. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong — no collusion!”

It’s true that, as Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in an announcement, these particular indictments do not allege that any American knew about the influence campaign, nor that the campaign had changed the outcome of the election. But that’s quite different from saying that there was no collusion or impact on the election. As Mr. Rosenstein also said, the special counsel’s investigation is continuing, and there are many strands the public still knows little or nothing about.

Remember, Mr. Mueller has already secured two guilty pleas, one from Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser and another from a former campaign adviser, for lying to federal authorities about their connections to Russian government officials. He has also charged Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his top aide, Rick Gates, with crimes including money laundering. Mr. Gates appears to be nearing a plea deal himself.

Then there were Russian cyberattacks on the elections systems of at least 39 states. And the hacking of emails sent among members of the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign — which Mr. Trump openly encouraged.

This is all going to happen again. Intelligence and law enforcement authorities have made that clear. The question is whether Mr. Trump will at last accept the fact of Russian interference and take aggressive measures to protect American democracy. For starters, he could impose the sanctions on Russia that Congress overwhelmingly passed, and that he signed into law, last summer. Of course, this would require him to overcome his mysterious resistance to acting against Russia and to focus on protecting his own country.

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13 Russians Indicted as Mueller Reveals Effort to Aid Trump Campaign
 

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The Justice Department said Mr. Mueller’s work was not complete. The indictment does not address the hacking of Democratic email systems or whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct the F.B.I. investigation into Russian interference. Mr. Mueller is negotiating with the president’s lawyers over the terms of a possible interview.

The Russian operation began four years ago, well before Mr. Trump entered the presidential race, a fact that he quickly seized on in his defense. “Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President,” he wrote on Twitter. “The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!”

Thirteen Russian nationals have been charged with illegally trying to disrupt the American political process through inflammatory social media posts and organized political rallies.

OPEN Graphic

But Mr. Trump’s statement ignored the government’s conclusion that, by 2016, the Russians were “supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump” and disparaging Hillary Clinton, his opponent. Working out of the office in St. Petersburg, the Russians described waging “information warfare against the United States of America,” according to court documents.

Mr. Mueller has gathered extensive evidence of contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign: Mr. Trump’s eldest son met with a Russian lawyer in hopes of receiving political dirt on Mrs. Clinton; one adviser has admitted being tipped off in advance to Russian hacking of Democratic emails; another was in contact with a Twitter account used by Russian hackers; a federal judge found probable cause that a third adviser was an unlawful Russian agent. And the Trump campaign repeatedly and falsely denied any contacts with Russia.

Whether any of that violated federal law is the weightiest question facing Mr. Mueller, and Friday’s indictment did not answer it. But it painted a picture of a Russian operation that was multipronged, well financed and relentless.

Russian operatives traveled across the United States to gather intelligence and foment political discord. They worked with an unidentified American who advised them to focus their efforts on what they viewed as “purple” election battleground states, including Colorado, Virginia and Florida, the indictment said.

In August 2016, prosecutors said, Russians posed as Americans and coordinated with Trump campaign staff to organize rallies in Florida.

Such anecdotes are rare examples of how intelligence agencies work covertly to influence political outcomes abroad. The C.I.A. has conducted such operations for decades, but both Mr. Mueller’s indictment and an intelligence assessment last year present a startling example — unprecedented in its scope and audacity — of a foreign government working to help elect an American president.

The indictment does not explicitly say the Russian government sponsored the effort, but American intelligence officials have publicly said that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia directed and oversaw it. The indictment notes that two of the Russian firms involved hold Russian government contracts.

“This is clearly a message document,” Robert S. Litt, the former general counsel to the director of national intelligence, said of the indictment. “Mueller wants to end the debate over whether there was Russian interference in the election.”

The Russian nationals were accused of working with the Internet Research Agency, which had a budget of millions of dollars and was designed to reach millions of Americans. The defendants were charged with carrying out a massive fraud against the American government and conspiring to obstruct enforcement of federal laws.

None of the defendants were arrested — Russia does not generally extradite its citizens to the United States. But prosecutors use such indictments to name and shame operatives, making it harder for them to work undetected in the future. If they travel abroad, they risk capture and extradition.

Russian computer specialists, divided into day teams and night teams, created hundreds of social media accounts that eventually attracted hundreds of thousands of online followers. They posed as Christian activists, anti-immigration groups and supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement. One account posed as the Tennessee Republican Party and generated hundreds of thousands of followers, prosecutors said.

Separate divisions of the Internet Research Agency were in charge of graphics, data analysis and information technology, according to the indictment.

“I created all these pictures and posts, and the Americans believed that it was written by their people,” one of the Russians, Irina Viktorovna Kaverzina, wrote as the operation was being unmasked.

Their tasks included undermining Mrs. Clinton by supporting her Democratic primary campaign rival, Bernie Sanders, prosecutors said. Those instructions were detailed in internal documents: “Use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump — we support them).” Mr. Mueller identified 13 digital advertisements paid for by the Russian operation. All of them attacked Mrs. Clinton or promoted Mr. Trump.

“Hillary is a Satan, and her crimes and lies had proved just how evil she is,” one advertisement stated.

In summer 2016, as Mrs. Clinton appeared headed for a decisive general election victory, Russian operatives promoted allegations of Democratic voter fraud. That echoed Mr. Trump’s own message that he was the victim of a rigged political system.

After the election, the Russians kept up their efforts to foment dissent. In November, they staged two rallies in New York on the same day. One had the theme, “Show your support for President-Elect Trump.” The other was called, “Trump is NOT my President.”

The indictment does not say that Russia changed the outcome of the election, a fact that Mr. Rosenstein noted repeatedly. American intelligence officials have said they have no way of calculating the effect of the Russian influence.

The Federal Election Commission started its own inquiry into the Internet Research Agency last year, according to documents obtained by The New York Times, after Facebook revealed that the firm had paid more than $100,000 for politically themed ads, including ones promoting “Down With Hillary” rallies.

The commission’s inquiry was prompted by a complaint filed by the government watchdog group Common Cause that claimed that the Facebook ads violated the prohibition on foreign spending, as well as requirements mandating the disclosure of campaign spending.

The Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, told the RBC news website that Russian officials have not familiarized themselves with the document yet.

Mr. Mueller also revealed Friday that Richard Pinedo, of Santa Paula, Calif., had pleaded guilty to identity fraud in a case involving the sale of bank accounts over the internet. According to court papers, some of Mr. Pinedo’s customers are foreigners who are targets of Mr. Mueller’s inquiry. Mr. Pinedo has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with Mr. Mueller, court documents show.

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Inside a 3-Year Russian Campaign to Influence U.S. Voters
 

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The field research to guide the attack appears to have begun in earnest in June 2014. Two Russian women, Aleksandra Y. Krylova and Anna V. Bogacheva, obtained visas for what turned out to be a three-week reconnaissance tour of the United States, including to key electoral states like Colorado, Michigan, Nevada and New Mexico. The visa application of a third Russian, Robert S. Bovda, was rejected.

The two women bought cameras, SIM cards and disposable cellphones for the trip and devised “evacuation scenarios” in case their real purpose was detected. In all, they visited nine states — California, Illinois, Louisiana, New York and Texas, in addition to the others — “to gather intelligence” on American politics, the indictment says. Ms. Krylova sent a report about their findings to one of her bosses in St. Petersburg.

Another Russian operative visited Atlanta in November 2014 on a similar mission, the indictment says. It does not name that operative, a possible indication that he or she is cooperating with the investigation, legal experts said.

The operation also included the creation of hundreds of email, PayPal and bank accounts and even fraudulent drivers’ licenses issued to fictitious Americans. The Russians also used the identities of real Americans from stolen Social Security numbers.

At the height of the 2016 campaign, the effort employed more than 80 people, who used secure virtual private network connections to computer servers leased in the United States to hide the fact that they were in Russia. From there, they posed as American activists, emailing, advising and making payments to real Americans who were duped into believing that they were part of the same cause.

The playing field was mainly social media, where the Russians splashed catchy memes and hash tags. Facebook has estimated that the fraudulent Russian posts reached 126 million Americans on its platforms alone.

The Russian operatives contacted, among others, a real Texas activist who, evidently assuming they were Americans, advised them to focus on “purple states like Colorado, Virginia & Florida.” After that, F.B.I. agents found that the phrase “purple states” became a mantra for the Russian operation.

Clinton Watts, a former F.B.I. agent who has tracked the Russian campaign closely, said that he had no doubt that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was behind the effort, which was carried out by companies controlled by his friend and ally, Yevgeny V. Prigozhin. But he noted that the so-called trolls employed by Mr. Prigozhin took elaborate steps to obscure their identities and locations and to avoid leaving government fingerprints.

“From the beginning, they built this so it could be plausibly denied,” Mr. Watts said. Mr. Putin has repeatedly denied any government role in hacking and disinformation aimed at the United States, while coyly allowing that patriotic Russians may have carried out such attacks on their own.

Andrew S. Weiss, a Russia specialist at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, called the reported origin of the effort in April 2014 “crucially important.”

“That’s a little more than a month after the annexation of Crimea and the launch of Russia’s covert war in eastern Ukraine,” Mr. Weiss said. The resulting crisis “vaporized U.S.-Russian relations overnight,” he said, setting off multiple Russian efforts “to undermine the United States, both in terms of our leading role in the world, but also via our own domestic political vulnerabilities.”

Mr. Weiss said the fact that private companies conducted the social media campaign simply made it cheaper and more difficult to trace.

Mr. Putin has been angry with Mrs. Clinton since at least 2011, when she was secretary of state and he accused her of inciting unrest in Russia as he faced large-scale political protests. Mrs. Clinton, he said, had sent “a signal” to “some actors in our country” after elections that were condemned as fraudulent by both international and Russian observers.

Mr. Mueller’s indictment does not present evidence that the campaign overseen by Mr. Prigozhin was ordered by Mr. Putin. American officials have traced other elements of the Russian meddling, notably the hacking and leaking of leading Democrats’ emails, to Russian intelligence agencies carrying out Mr. Putin’s orders.

While the indictment certainly undermines Mr. Trump’s blanket assertions that the Russian interference is a political “hoax,” it does not accuse anyone from his campaign or any other American of knowingly aiding in the effort.

By the beginning of 2016, the Russian strategy was in place, and the conspirators began their campaign to sow conflict. An internal message circulated through the Internet Research Agency telling operatives to post content online that focused on “politics in the USA.”

“Use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump—we support them),” the message read.

The scope of the operation was sweeping. The Russians assumed their fake identifies to communicate with campaign volunteers for Mr. Trump and grass-roots groups supporting his candidacy. They bought pro-Trump and anti-Clinton political advertisements on Facebook and other social media. They used an Instagram account to try to suppress turnout of minority voters and campaign for Ms. Stein, the Green Party candidate.

Applying nearly two years’ worth of political research, the Russians used all of these tactics to target voters in swing states, notably Florida, according to the indictment.

By summer 2016, the Russian operatives were mobilizing efforts for coming “Florida Goes Trump” rallies across the state, all planned for Aug. 20. Using false identities, they contacted Trump campaign staff in Florida to offer their services. One operative sent a message to a campaign official saying that the group Being Patriotic was organizing a statewide rally “to support Mr. Trump.”

“You know, simple yelling on the internet is not enough,” the message read, according to the indictment. “There should be real action. We organized rallies in New York before. Now we’re focusing on purple states such as Florida.”

Taking to Facebook, the Russians used the pseudonym Matt Skiber to advertise the rally. “If we lose Florida, we lose America. We can’t let it happen, right? What about organizing a YUGE pro-Trump flash mob in every Florida town?” the message read, using one of Mr. Trump’s favorite verbal flourishes.

They reached out to local organizations to build momentum for the coming rallies and assign specific tasks.

They paid one unwitting Trump supporter to build a cage on a flatbed truck that housed another person wearing a costume that portrayed Mrs. Clinton in a prison uniform.

After the rallies in Florida, the group applied similar tactics to organize rallies in Pennsylvania, New York and elsewhere.

Weeks before the election, the Russians ratcheted up social media activity aimed at dampening support for Mrs. Clinton.

In mid-October, Woke Blacks, an Instagram account run by the Internet Research Agency, carried the message “hatred for Trump is misleading the people and forcing Blacks to vote Killary. We cannot resort to the lesser of two devils. Then we’d surely be better off without voting AT ALL.”

Then, just days before Americans went to the polls, another Instagram account controlled by the Russians — called Blacktivist — urged its followers to “choose peace” and vote for Ms. Stein, who was expected to siphon support from Mrs. Clinton’s campaign.

“Trust me,” the message read, “it’s not a wasted vote.”

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FBI should completely shut down: Judicial Watch’s Chris Farrell | Fox Business
 

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FBI needs to be shut down: Chris Farrell

Judicial Watch Director of Investigations Chris Farrell on the problems with the FBI and why the FBI needs to be shut down.

Judicial Watch Director of Investigations Chris Farrell is calling for the complete abolishment of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) beginning with the resignation of its director, Christopher Wray, after failing to protect American citizens.

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The law enforcement agency has come under scrutiny for becoming too politicized in the probe into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and the Russian dossier that may have helped authorities obtain FISA warrants to conduct surveillance on Trump campaign officials.

“I would go back 200 years to the U.S. Marshal Service. I would create a new division for investigation and in about 6-8 months, I would shut the FBI down,” Farrell said during an interview on FOX Business “Lou Dobbs Tonight.”

The Judicial Watch director said agents would be allowed to laterally apply to a new investigative unit and agents would be allowed to apply to a new investigative arm of the U.S. Marshal Service. The FBI would cease to exist.

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“There’s a systemic institutional problem. We can walk back to the Tsarnaev brothers where they missed the leads, multiple leads on them. You can go back to Whitey Bulger for that matter. You can go back to existing corruption in El Paso, Texas,” Farrell said.

In April 2013, Tsarnaev and his younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, set off two bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The horrific explosion killed three people and injured more than 260.

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James Joseph “Whitey” Bulger, the infamous Massachusetts mob boss, was arrested in 2011 after 15 years being hunted by the FBI.

“Here’s the problem. If nothing changes, nothing changes,” Farrell said. “There’s gotta be a radical, very penetrating severe examination and you have to turn over some furniture here.”

Muellers office charges Russians with trolling aimed at swaying election: Read the indictment
 

mikenova shared this story from [Untitled].

WASHINGTON — In an extraordinary indictment, the U.S. special counsel accused 13 Russians Friday of an elaborate plot to disrupt the 2016 presidential election, charging them with running a huge but hidden social media trolling campaign aimed in part at helping Republican Donald Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The federal indictment, brought by special counsel Robert Mueller, represents the most detailed allegations to date of illegal Russian meddling during the campaign that sent Trump to the White House. It also marks the first criminal charges against Russians believed to have secretly worked to influence the outcome.

The Russian organization was funded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the indictment says. He is a wealthy St. Petersburg businessman with ties to the Russian government and President Vladimir Putin.

Trump quickly claimed vindication Friday, noting in a tweet that the alleged interference efforts began in 2014 — “long before I announced that I would run for President.”

“The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong — no collusion!” he tweeted.

But the indictment does not resolve the collusion question at the heart of the continuing Mueller probe, which before Friday had produced charges against four Trump associates. U.S. intelligence agencies have previously said the Russian government interfered to benefit Trump, including by orchestrating the hacking of Democratic emails, and Mueller has been assessing whether the campaign coordinated with the Kremlin.

The latest indictment does not focus on the hacking but instead centers on a social media propaganda effort that began in 2014 and continued past the election, with the goal of producing distrust in the American political process. Trump himself has been reluctant to acknowledge the interference and any role that it might have played in propelling him to the White House.

The indictment does not allege that any American knowingly participated in Russian meddling, or suggest that Trump campaign associates had more than “unwitting” contact with some of the defendants who posed as Americans during election season.

But it does lay out a vast and wide-ranging Russian effort to sway political opinion in the United States through a strategy that involved creating Internet postings in the names of Americans whose identities had been stolen; staging political rallies while posing as American political activists and paying people in the U.S. to promote or disparage candidates.

While foreign meddling in U.S. campaigns is not new, the indictment for an effort of this scope and digital sophistication is unprecedented.

“This indictment serves as a reminder that people are not always who they appear to be on the internet,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Friday. “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 13 Russians are not in custody and not likely to ever face trial. The Justice Department has for years supported indicting foreign defendants in absentia as a way of publicly shaming them and effectively barring them from foreign travel.

Full text of the indictment:

The surreptitious campaign was organized by the Internet Research Agency, a notorious Russian troll farm that the indictment says sought to conduct “information warfare against the United States of America.”

The company, among three Russian entities named in the indictment, had a multimillion-dollar budget and hundreds of workers divided by specialties and assigned to day and night shifts. According to prosecutors, the company was funded by companies controlled by Prigozhin, the wealthy Russian who has been dubbed “Putin’s chef” because his restaurants and catering businesses have hosted the Kremlin leader’s dinners with foreign dignitaries.

Prigozhin said Friday he was not upset by the indictment.

“Americans are very impressionable people,” he was quoted as saying by Russia’s state news agency. They “see what they want to see.”

Also Friday, Mueller announced a guilty plea from a California man who unwittingly sold bank accounts to Russians involved in the interference effort.

The election-meddling organization, looking to conceal its Russian roots, purchased space on computer servers within the U.S., used email accounts from U.S. internet service providers and created and controlled social media pages with huge numbers of followers on divisive issues such as immigration, religion and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Starting in April 2016, the indictment says, the Russian agency bought political ads on social media supporting Trump and opposing Clinton without reporting expenditures to the Federal Election Commission or registering as foreign agents. Among the ads: “JOIN our #HillaryClintonForPrison2016” and “Donald wants to defeat terrorism … Hillary wants to sponsor it.”

“They engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump,” the indictment states.

The indictment details contacts targeting three unnamed officials in the Trump campaign’s Florida operation. In each instance, the Russians used false U.S. personas to contact the officials. The indictment doesn’t say if any of them responded, and there’s no allegation that any of the campaign officials knew they were communicating with Russians.

Two of the defendants traveled to the U.S. in June 2014 to gather intelligence on social media sites and identify targets for their operations, the indictment alleges. Following the trip, the group collected further intelligence by contacting U.S. political and social media activists while posing as U.S. citizens. They were guided by one contact to target “purple states like Colorado, Virginia and Florida,” prosecutors say.

Cruz and Rubio ran against Trump in the Republican primary; Sanders opposed Clinton in the Democratic primary.

According to one internal communication described by prosecutors, the specialists were instructed to “use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump_we support them).” And according to one internal review, a specialist was criticized for having a low number of posts criticizing Clinton. The person was told “it is imperative to intensify criticizing Hillary Clinton” in future posts.

The indictment also asserts that the posts encouraged minority groups not to vote or to vote for third parties and alleged Democratic voter fraud.

Before a rally in Florida, the Russians paid one person to build a cage on a flatbed truck and another to wear a costume portraying Clinton in a prison uniform. But they also organized some rallies opposing Trump, including one in New York after the election called “Trump is NOT my president.”

The Russians destroyed evidence of their activities as Mueller’s investigation picked up, with one of those indicted sending an email in September 2017 to a family member that said the FBI had “busted” them so they were covering their tracks.

That person, Irina Viktorovna Kaverzina, wrote the family member, “I created all of these pictures and posts, and the Americans believed that it was written by their people.”

Who are the 13 Russians indicted by the US?
 

mikenova shared this story .

MOSCOW – The 13 Russians indicted by the United States for interfering in its 2016 presidential election have been connected to a “troll factory” churning out online posts aimed at influencing public opinion.

The list is topped by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman close to the Kremlin who has been linked to the secretive propaganda operation by Russian media, but who has denied meddling in elections.

He has brushed off the indictment, telling RIA Novosti state news agency: “I am not at all upset that I am in this list. If they want to see a devil, let them.”

The unsealed US indictment said that those on the list except Prigozhin worked in various capacities for the Internet Research Agency, the name of the “troll factory” in the northwestern city of Saint Petersburg that allegedly worked to “interfere with the US political system.”

The indictment said that Prigozhin and companies he controlled allegedly provided the agency with funding.

Prigozhin has denied any connection with the Internet Research Agency, Interfax news agency reported.

– Fake accounts –

Russian media first reported on the “troll factory” in 2014, saying it ran thousands of fake accounts on social media. RBK media group reported it was initially used to influence domestic politics but from 2015 it was redirected to work on a US audience.

RBK reported in October that around 90 people worked in the “US department” of the troll factory.

A woman who had worked at the agency for two months told AFP in 2015 that she was paid to write messages praising Russian President Vladimir Putin on blogs under several different names, as well as writing hundreds of comments on other sites.

– ‘Putin’s chef’ –

Prigozhin has been under US sanctions since December 2016 for having “materially assisted” senior officials of the Russian Federation and for “extensive business dealings” with the defence ministry.

Nicknamed by Russian media “Putin’s chef,” he owns a company that has done catering for Kremlin receptions and has been photographed with the president.

His restaurant and catering group Konkord, or Concord, has been subject to US sanctions since 2017 and is also named in the indictment. It has won catering contracts with the defence ministry.

Prigozhin has also been linked by Russian media to the mercenary group Wagner, which has reportedly sent its operatives to Syria to fight alongside Russian armed forces. He has denied any connection to Wagner.

Prigozhin has also been linked by Russian media to a company called Yevro Polis, which in turn has been linked to Wagner. Yevro Polis, or Evro Polis, has been under US sanctions since January.

The US said it was blacklisting the company because it is “owned or controlled” by Prigozhin.

It said the company contracted with the government of Syria to protect Syrian oil fields in exchange for a 25 percent share in oil and gas production from the fields.

Fontanka.ru reported in summer 2017 that Yevro Polis was involved in a secret deal to take control of certain oil and gas deposits and refineries in Syria in return for freeing oil and gas sites from rebel control and providing security at the sites. It cited a source close to the energy ministry.

AFP

Yevgeny Prigozhin – Google Search
 

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Story image for Yevgeny Prigozhin from New York Times

Meet Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian Oligarch Indicted in US …

New York Times16 hours ago
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — Long before he was indicted by the United States in a case involving the troll factory that spearheaded Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 United States elections, Yevgeny V. Prigozhin emerged from prison just as the Soviet Union was collapsing and opened a hot-dog …
Key players in the Trump-Russia probe
 

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  • FILE - In this Monday, Sept. 20, 2010 file photo, businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, left, shows Russian President Vladimir Putin, around his factory which produces school meals, outside St. Petersburg, Russia. Indicted for alleged U.S. election interference, Prigozhin is a wealthy Russian entrepreneur from St. Petersburg who&squot;s been dubbed "Putin&squot;s chef" by Russian media, with his catering businesses that have hosted the Kremlin leader&squot;s dinners with foreign dignitaries. (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File) Photo: Alexei Druzhinin, AP / POOL SPUTNIK KREMLIN
  • FILE - In this file photo taken on Sunday, April 19, 2015, a women enters the four-storey building known as the "troll factory" in St. Petersburg, Russia. The U.S. government allege the Internet Research Agency started interfering as early as 2014 in U.S. politics, extending to the 2016 presidential election, saying the agency was funded by a St. Petersburg businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin. Photo: Dmitry Lovetsky, AP / Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
  • window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: ‘thumbnails-c’, container: ‘taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-3’, placement: ‘Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 3’, target_type: ‘mix’ }); _taboola.push({flush: true});
  • FILE - In this Monday, Sept. 20, 2010 file photo, businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, left, shows Russian President Vladimir Putin, around his factory which produces school meals, outside St. Petersburg, Russia. Indicted for alleged U.S. election interference, Prigozhin is a wealthy Russian entrepreneur from St. Petersburg who&squot;s been dubbed "Putin&squot;s chef" by Russian media, with his catering businesses that have hosted the Kremlin leader&squot;s dinners with foreign dignitaries. (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)
  • FILE - In this file photo taken on Sunday, April 19, 2015, a women enters the four-storey building known as the "troll factory" in St. Petersburg, Russia. The U.S. government allege the Internet Research Agency started interfering as early as 2014 in U.S. politics, extending to the 2016 presidential election, saying the agency was funded by a St. Petersburg businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Photo: Alexei Druzhinin, AP

FILE – In this Monday, Sept. 20, 2010 file photo, businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, left, shows Russian President Vladimir Putin, around his factory which produces school meals, outside St. Petersburg, Russia. Indicted for alleged U.S. election interference, Prigozhin is a wealthy Russian entrepreneur from St. Petersburg who’s been dubbed “Putin’s chef” by Russian media, with his catering businesses that have hosted the Kremlin leader’s dinners with foreign dignitaries. (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)

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FILE – In this Monday, Sept. 20, 2010 file photo, businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, left, shows Russian President Vladimir Putin, around his factory which produces school meals, outside St. Petersburg, Russia.

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Photo: Alexei Druzhinin, AP

FILE – In this file photo taken on Sunday, April 19, 2015, a women enters the four-storey building known as the “troll factory” in St. Petersburg, Russia. The U.S. government allege the Internet Research Agency started interfering as early as 2014 in U.S. politics, extending to the 2016 presidential election, saying the agency was funded by a St. Petersburg businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin.

 less

FILE – In this file photo taken on Sunday, April 19, 2015, a women enters the four-storey building known as the “troll factory” in St. Petersburg, Russia. The U.S. government allege the Internet Research

 … more

Photo: Dmitry Lovetsky, AP

Key players in the Trump-Russia probe

WASHINGTON (AP) — A look at some of the key players in the Trump-Russia probe after a federal indictment charged 13 Russians in a plot to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election:

PUTIN’S CHEF

One of the key figures indicted with plotting to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential is a Russian restaurateur believed to have ties to President Vladimir Putin.


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