A Russian oligarch dubbed “Putin’s chef” because of his close ties to the strongman has been slapped with sanctions by the Treasury Department for using a so-called troll farm to try to influence the 2018 U.S. midterm elections.
Financier Yevgeniy Prigozhin, who is known for arranging up high-powered dinners for Putin, used his reputed hacker hive, Internet Research Agency, to set up fake personas on social media and spread fake news in the run up to the to the midterms, which Democrats won in a landslide.
The Treasury action targets four entities, seven individuals, three aircraft and a yacht, all with ties to Prigozhin.
President Trump has repeatedly lashed out at claims that Russians successfully helped him win the 2016 presidential elections. He reportedly told Russian officials that he was unconcerned by reports of election interference in a previously unreported conversation shortly after he took office in 2017.
Treasury says here is no indication that Prigozhin’s operation was able to compromise election infrastructure, blocked voters from casting ballots, changed vote counts or disrupted vote counting.
He may have succeeded in undermining faith in U.S. democratic institutions, which American intelligence says was a key goal of Russian interference in both 2016 and 2018.
With News Wire Services