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Monday, February 19, 2018

Russian citizens are accused of interfering in the US 2016 elections

Por MRod

US intelligence agencies believe that Russia tried to influence the 2016 presidential election in favor of Republican candidate Donald Trump. In May of last year, Mueller was appointed special advisor to investigate the alleged Russian interference in the elections. Trump has been accused by the opposition of trying to interfere in this ongoing investigation, which is denied by the president as well as any conspiracy with Russia during the election campaign.

Thirteen citizens and three Russian companies were formally indicted this Friday by the US Department of Justice due to their interference in the 2016 presidential election. They are accused of "violating criminal laws while interfering in US elections and political processes", said the office of special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who investigates the alleged Russian meddling in the campaign. The operations included reporting "disparaging information about Hillary Clinton, denigrating other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and supporting Bernie Sanders and the then-candidate Donald Trump".

Among the blamed, three were accused of conspiracy to commit electronic fraud, while five were accused of identity theft. One of the three companies signaled by the US authorities is based in St. Petersburg, Russia, and was identified as the main responsible for the operations that the Department of Justice calls "cyberwar against the United States through fictitious identities in social networks and other internet media". The court document with the allegations states that the preparation of this interference activities began in 2014 and that some of the defendants used computer systems in the USA. to hide the Russian origin of its activities. "The defendants, posing as US individuals and creating false profiles in the US, operated social networking sites and groups designed to appeal to American audiences," the document released on Friday read.

The text also notes that the defendants "created and controlled numerous Twitter accounts designed to appear to be controlled by US individuals or groups”. After hearing the news, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told in a press conference that the document states that the defendants "allegedly conspired to defraud the US by undermining the legal functions of the federal electoral commission." However, he stressed that the document does not indicate that any American was "a participant knowledgeable of this illegal activity" nor that the interference affected the outcome of the elections.

The Russian government, for its part, called the accusation "absurd”. "Thirteen people interfered in the US elections? Thirteen against the $ 1 billion budget of the security services? Against espionage and counterintelligence, against new systems and technologies? Absurd? Yes", the spokeswoman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Maria Zakharova, said. One of the Russian citizens identified in the indictment, Evgeny Prigozhin, denied having participated in the manipulation of the elections. "Americans are very impressionable people, they see what they want to see," the Russian news agency Ria Novosti said. "I respect them a lot, it does not bother me to appear on this list, if they want to see the devil, let them see it." Whatever new information might arise, this US-Russian conflict is yet to be ended.