WASHINGTON -- U.S. prosecutors charged a Russian woman with conspiring to interfere in U.S. elections, in what appeared to be the first such charges related to next month’s key congressional elections.
In a filing in U.S. federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, on October 19, prosecutors accused Elena Khusyaynova of running an operation called Project Lakhta that was funded by a St. Petersburg businessman with close Kremlin ties who was indicted earlier this year.
The project, according to the criminal complaint, intended to wage "information warfare against the United States" and sow distrust in U.S. political candidates and the U.S. political system overall.
The complaint said Khusyaynova had served as chief accountant for Project Lakhta since about April 2014.
The St. Petersburg businessman who allegedly funded the effort was Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller earlier this year on similar charges of trying to interfere with past U.S. elections.
He, two of his companies -- Concord Management and Concord Catering — and 12 other Russians were accused by Mueller of meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential race in an effort aimed at bolstering Donald Trump and denigrating his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
Khusyaynova and Prigozhin are believed to be in Russia and are unlikely to face justice in the United States.
The November 6 election will, among other things, determine whether the Republicans continue dominating both the House of Representatives and the Senate, or if Democrats will take control.