A federal grand jury on Friday indicted 13
Russians and three Russian companies for allegedly interfering in the
2016 presidential election, in a case brought by Special Counsel Robert
Mueller that detailed a sophisticated plot to wage “information warfare”
against the U.S.
The Russian nationals are accused of setting a “strategic goal to sow
discord in the U.S. political system, including the 2016 presidential
The indictment – the first filed against Russian nationals as part of
Mueller’s probe – effectively returns focus to the meddling activities
out of Russia in the run-up to the 2016 election, following a string of
charges relating to the actions of Trump associates.
Further, the DOJ made clear that the
indictment does not allege that any of the interference changed the
outcome of the presidential race.
“There is no allegation in this indictment that any American was a
knowing participant in this illegal activity. There is no allegation in
the indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016
election,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the
special counsel probe, said at a Friday press conference.
The 37-page indictment was signed by Mueller.
The defendants are accused of spreading derogatory information about
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, denigrating Republican
candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio -- and ultimately supporting
Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders and then-Republican candidate Donald
It says the defendants spread derogatory information about various
candidates throughout the 2016 campaign and by “early to mid-2016” were
supporting Trump’s presidential campaign.
Rosenstein, though, said that after the election, the group worked both
to stage rallies in favor of President-elect Trump and in opposition to
Rosenstein on Friday described a sophisticated operation by Russian
organization Internet Research Agency. He said the scheme involved
setting up hundreds of social media accounts using stolen or fictitious
identities to make it appear like the accounts were controlled by
individuals in the U.S. He said the defendants posed as politically
active Americans and recruited “real Americans” to stage rallies and
engage in political activities.
But Rosenstein said those Americans did not know they were communicating
The indictment says the actions date back to 2014.
According to the special counsel, the indictment charges the defendants
with conspiracy to defraud the United States, three defendants with
conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud and five defendants with
aggravated identity theft.
READ THE INDICTMENT OF RUSSIAN NATIONALS
The three entities charged are Internet Research Agency LLC, Concord
Management and Consulting LLC and Concord Catering.
The 13 Russians charged are: Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin; Mikhail
Ivanovich Bystrov; Mikhail Leonidovich Burchik; Aleksandra Yuryevna
Krylova; Anna Vladislavovna Bogacheva; Sergey Pavlovich Polozov; Maria
Anatolyrvna Bovda; Robert Sergetevich Bovda; Dzheykhun Nasimi Ogly;
Vadim Vladimirovich Podkopaev; Gleb Igorevich Vasilchenko; Irina
Viktorovna Kaverzina and Vladimir Venkov.
The indictment says the Internet Research Agency registered with the
Russian government as a corporate entity in 2013. It employed hundreds
of individuals for its online operations and had an annual budget
equaling the equivalent of millions of U.S. dollars, the filing said.
Prosecutors accuse the Russians of communicating with a real U.S. person
affiliated with a Texas-based grassroots organization. They learned from
that person to focus their activities on “purple states like Colorado,
Virginia and Florida," the indictment says.
It also says the group’s employees – referred to as “specialists” –
created social media accounts to look like they were operated by
Americans. They created group pages on Facebook and Instagram with names
like “Secured Borders,” “Blacktivist” (to promote the Black Lives Matter
movement), “United Muslims of America,” “Army of Jesus,” “South United”
and “Heart of Texas.”
They also created and controlled numerous Twitter accounts, like one
named “Tennessee GOP” under the @TEN_GOP handle that attracted more than
According to the indictment, the specialists were instructed to post
content online that criticized “Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and
Trump – we support them)."
It said they used pro-Trump, anti-Clinton hashtags online like
“#Trump2016,” “#TrumpTrain,” “#MAGA,” “#IWontProtectHillary,” and
It says the defendants, around the latter half of 2016, encouraged
minority groups in the United States not to vote in the election or vote
for a third party candidate. An Instagram account they controlled called
“Woke Blacks” posted a message on Oct. 16, 2016 that read: “We cannot
resort to the lesser of two devils. Then we’d surely be better off
without voting AT ALL.”
Fox News' Jake Gibson contributed to this report.