Federal authorities have offered a $10 million reward for information about foreign interference in US elections in general, and specifically about a Russian oligarch and close friend of President Vladimir Putin accused of funding an organization that s interfered in the 2016 presidential elections.
The bounty, offered through the US State Department’s Justice Awards programspecifically seeks information on the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA), businessman Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, and all “Russian entities and associates linked for their engagement in US election interference”.
The IRA is a Russian troll super-farm accused of interfering in the 2016 presidential election and allegedly helping Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton.
According to US government and private security researchers, this cybercriminal gang has set up a virtual private network of servers in the United States along with hundreds of fake social media accounts pretending to be genuine grassroots activists to spread fake news, sow political discord, pit Americans against each other and help organize rallies. The IRA’s work to undermine the US political system began in 2014, according to the Department of Justice, and it operated through several front companies, including Internet Research, MediaSintez, GlavSet, MixInfo, Azimut and NovInfo.
In the summer of 2016, the troll farm was spending $1.25 million a month targeting Americans with social media posts, according to an earlier report by Cisco Talos. [PDF].
Prigozhin, meanwhile, was the alleged money man behind the operation. The Russian oligarch has close ties to Putin, which earned him the nickname “Putin’s leaderfor his restaurants and catering businesses. And he’s also wanted by the FBI for election interference. [PDF]. The office describes him as the IRA’s “main backer”.
Some of his companies, including Concord Management and Consulting and Concord Catering, sent funds, recommended workers and oversaw IRA activities, we are told.
The $10 million reward also names a dozen other Russian nationals who the State Department says carried out IRA influence operations in the 2016 presidential election: Mikhail Ivanovich Bystrov, Mikhail Leonidovich Burchik, Aleksandra Yuryevna Krylova, Anna Vladislavovna Bogacheva, Sergey Pavlovich Polozov, Maria Anatolyevna Bovda. , Robert Sergeyevich Bovda, Dzheykhun Nasimi Ogly Aslanov, Vadim Vladimirovich Podkopaev, Gleb Igorevich Vasilchenko, Irina Viktorovna Kaverzina and Vladimir Venkov.
These 12, along with Prigozhin and the IRA, have all been charged [PDF] in 2018 following Special Counsel Robert Muller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Federal authorities are asking anyone with information about the IRA, Prigozhin, or any other Russian person or organization linked to U.S. election interference to contact the Rewards for Justice Office through a Tor-based tip reporting channel. . ®