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U.S. issues fresh charges over alleged Moscow influence campaign

Security officers stand guard outside of the U.S. Department of Justice Building in Washington, U.S., December 2, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department announced new charges on Tuesday against four Americans in Florida and three Russians for allegedly working on behalf of Moscow “to conduct a multi-year foreign malign influence campaign in the United States.”

The superseding indictment from a federal grand jury in Tampa adds charges to Moscow resident Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov and also names Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officers Aleksey Borisovich Sukhodolov and Yegor Sergeyevich Popov, the department said.

Ionov was charged in July with orchestrating an election interference campaign using political groups in Florida, Georgia and California, a charge he has called “nonsense.”

Representatives for the Russian Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Four Florida residents involved in several political groups, including the African People’s Socialist Party, were also charged, the department said, adding that Ionov allegedly recruited them “to participate in the influence campaign and act as agents of Russia in the United States.”

Additionally, a separate unsealed case in Washington charges Russian national Natalia Burlinova “with conspiring with an FSB officer to act as an illegal agent of Russia in the United States,” the department said in a statement.

Burlinova allegedly sought to recruit U.S. academics and researchers to travel to Russia for a Moscow-funded program “devoted to promoting Russian national interests,” the Justice Department said.



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