MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian woman accused by the U.S. of helping oversee a social media effort to influence the 2018 U.S. midterm elections mocked the accusations Monday, saying that they made her feel proud.
Justice Department prosecutors alleged Friday that Elena Khusyaynova helped manage the finances of the same social media troll farm that was indicted earlier this year by special counsel Robert Mueller. The troll farm, the Internet Research Agency, is one of a web of companies allegedly controlled by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman with reported ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Khusyaynova responded Monday in a video on the internet news site Federal News Agency, reportedly also linked to Prigozhin. She said she was bewildered by the allegations that she could have influenced the U.S. elections even though she is just a simple bookkeeper who doesn’t speak English.
Justice Department prosecutors claimed that Khusyaynova, of St. Petersburg, ran the finances for a hidden but powerful Russian social media effort aimed at spreading distrust for American political candidates and causing divisions on hot-button social issues like immigration and gun control. It marked the first federal case alleging foreign interference in the 2018 midterm elections.
“I was surprised and shocked, but then my heart filled with pride,” Khusyaynova said. “It turns out that a simple Russian woman could help citizens of a superpower elect their president. Dear people of the world! Let’s all help the American people elect such politicians who would behave in a humane way and lead our planet to peace and goodness. Let’s all wish America to become a great and peaceful country again!”