Blocking Meddling from China, Russia Among ‘Top Priorities’ of US Government

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She allegedly spent millions in an operation called Project Lakhta, buying advertising on social media, acquiring internet domain names, and pushing "news postings on social networks".

But the statement noted, "We are concerned about ongoing campaigns by Russia, China and other foreign actors, including Iran, to undermine confidence in democratic institutions and influence public sentiment and government policies".

The statement went on to say, "These activities also may seek to influence voter perceptions and decision-making in the 2018 and 2020 United States elections".

Federal prosecutors in Virginia said Khusyaynova's work was part of an effort orchestrated by Yevgeniy Prigozhin, an oligarch known as "Putin's chef" who has already been charged for interference in the 2016 election.

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 USA presidential race, boost Donald Trump, the Republican candidate, and disparage his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Since at least 2015, the group created thousands of fake social media profiles and email accounts that appeared to be from people inside the USA and were aimed to "create and amplify divisive social and political content", including on significant current events, such as deadly shootings in SC and Las Vegas, prosecutors said in court papers.

Between January 2016 and June 2018, Project Lakhta's proposed operating budget totaled more than $35 million, although only a portion of these funds were directed at the United States.

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Khusyaynova is a foreign national who lives in St. Petersburg, and she was not in custody.

Some state and local governments, which run polling sites, have reported attempts to access their networks, but officials were able to "prevent access or quickly mitigate these attempts", the agencies said in a joint statement.

The Khusyaynova case shows "in detail that when we talk about Russian interference it is not something in history it is now", Carlin said.

A senior Homeland Security official said on Friday that no state voting system had been successfully hacked ahead of the November elections.

These alleged activities were part of what Washington calls Russian strategic efforts to meddle in the 2016 USA presidential race and as well as the upcoming midterms.

Former FBI Director James B. Comey faced criticism for talking publicly on the eve of the election about the bureau resuming its investigation of Hillary Clinton, while keeping secret the separate probe into possible ties between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign.

Trump, who at a news conference in Helsinki in July with Putin cast doubt on his own intelligence agencies' findings that Russian Federation had meddled with the 2016 election, dismissed the latest charge against Russian Federation as unrelated to him.

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