Three Russians charged in alleged disinformation campaign aimed at US politicians

Three Russians charged in alleged disinformation campaign aimed at US politicians

Three Russians charged in alleged disinformation campaign aimed at US politicians
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Federal prosecutors have charged a high-ranking Putin-aligned Russian senator and two of his staff with running a foreign influence and disinformation network in the United States, which included attempts to sway members of Congress.

According to an indictment unsealed Thursday in federal court in New York City, Aleksander Babakov, the deputy chairman of the Russian Parliament’s lower house, and two of his aides.

Aleksandr Nikolayevich Vorobev and Mikhail Alekseyevich Plisyuk conspired to violate US sanctions and hired a New York-based American with experience in international relations and media to act as an unregistered Russian agent to help them gain access to elected officials

The accused misinformation effort was carried out “to advance Russia’s malignant political intentions” against Ukraine, the United States, and other countries, according to US Attorney Damian Williams.

“Today’s indictment demonstrates that Russia’s illegitimate actions against Ukraine extend beyond the battlefield, as political influencers under Russia’s control allegedly plotted to steer geopolitical change in Russia’s favor through surreptitious and illegal means in the U.S. and elsewhere in the West,” Williams said in a statement.

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The indictment was unsealed as part of the Biden administration’s effort to ensure that Russian officials and oligarchs who have been sanctioned as a result of the fighting in Ukraine are unable to avoid them.

“Where our focus will be in the coming days is on evasion,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Thursday at the Economic Club of Washington, D.C.

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Each of the three Russian men charged in Thursday’s unsealed indictment faces up to five years in prison if convicted of plotting to have a U.S. citizen work as a Russian agent in the United States without telling the attorney general. The three men, who were sanctioned by the Treasury Department in 2017, are additionally charged with single counts of conspiring to violate and evade US sanctions, a crime that carries a potential punishment of 20 years in prison.

The defendants are also accused of attempting to fraudulently obtain visas to enter the United States, which could result in an additional five years in jail if convicted.

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