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US adds more sanctions on Russian election hackers and ‘troll farm’

The US Department of the Treasury has issued new sanctions against Russian nationals who allegedly attempted to interfere with US elections. Today’s sanctions target 15 military intelligence operatives for a range of activities, including nine who were indicated this summer in connection with the Democratic National Committee hack in 2016. It also sanctions people and entities related to Project Lakhta — a broad political interference campaign that includes the Internet Research Agency “troll farm.” That includes Elena Khusyaynova, who was charged in october with managing the budget for Project Lakhta.

Other sanctions concern a Russian cyberattack on the World Anti-Doping Agency in 2016, in which hackers gained access to athletes’ medical data and leaked it. This follows against seven intelligence officers for the crime in October. Two people were also sanctioned for the nerve gas attack against a former Russian agent earlier this year.

In a statement, the Treasury Department says the sanctions were issued “in response to Russia’s continued disregard for international norms.” Under these sanctions, US businesses and citizens are banned from doing business with any person or entity on the list.

This is the second round of sanctions this year against Russian operatives for interfering in US elections.The previous sanction covered agents allegedly involved in other hacking attempts, as well as members of the Internet Research Agency, which has been tied to a range of propaganda campaigns intended partly to promote Donald Trump and depress Democratic voter turnout. The sanctions were issued under pressure from Congress, after the Trump administration initially declined to impose them.

Today’s sanctions are being imposed two days after a report detailed ongoing attempts on Instagram, YouTube, and other platforms.

“The United States will continue to work with international allies and partners to take collective action to deter and defend against sustained malign activity by Russia, its proxies, and intelligence agencies,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, in a statement alongside today’s sanctions announcement.


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