– Defendants sought to sow discord, spread pro-Russia propaganda and interfere in elections within the United States.
WASHINGTON, USA – A federal grand jury in Tampa, Florida, returned a superseding indictment charging four US citizens and three Russian nationals with working on behalf of the Russian government and in conjunction with the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) to conduct a multi-year foreign malign influence campaign in the United States.
Among other conduct, the superseding indictment alleges that the Russian defendants recruited, funded and directed US political groups to act as unregistered illegal agents of the Russian government and sow discord and spread pro-Russian propaganda; the indicted intelligence officers, in particular, participated in covertly funding and directing candidates for local office within the United States.
Additionally, in a separate case out of the District of Columbia, a criminal complaint was unsealed charging Russian national Natalia Burlinova with conspiring with an FSB officer to act as an illegal agent of Russia in the United States.
“Russia’s foreign intelligence service allegedly weaponized our First Amendment rights – freedoms Russia denies its own citizens – to divide Americans and interfere in elections in the United States,” said assistant attorney-general Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
“The department will not hesitate to expose and prosecute those who sow discord and corrupt US elections in service of hostile foreign interests, regardless of whether the culprits are US citizens or foreign individuals abroad.”
“Efforts by the Russian government to secretly influence US elections will not be tolerated,” said assistant attorney-general Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
“As today’s announcement demonstrates, the Criminal Division is committed to eradicating foreign malign influence from the US political system and helping ensure the integrity of our elections. Today’s announcement paints a harrowing picture of Russian government actions and the lengths to which the FSB will go to interfere with our elections, sow discord in our nation and ultimately recruit US citizens to their efforts,” said acting assistant director Kurt Ronnow of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division.
“All Americans should be deeply concerned by the tactics employed by the FSB and remain vigilant to any attempt to undermine our democracy. The FBI remains committed to confronting this egregious behavior and ultimately disrupting our adversaries and those who act on their behalf.”