In a Friday afternoon bombshell, a DC grand jury convened by special prosecutor Robert Mueller returned an indictment charging 13 Russian individuals and three Russian companies with interfering in the 2016 US presidential election.
Here’s what we know about the Russians who have been charged:
A retired police colonel, Bystrov is named in the indictment as the executive director of the Internet Research Agency, the body’s highest-ranking position. He’s been referred to as the “founder and CEO” of the troll farm; Russian corporate records show that by late 2016 the IRA was officially closed down. But a 2015 Russian tax filing showed that Bystrov was now general director of a company called Glavset, LLC. Mueller’s team has determined that the company was one of many fronts for the IRA’s ongoing activities.
Burchik, a 31-year-old internet entrepreneur, is listed in the indictment as the executive director of the Internet Research Agency, the second-highest-ranking post. According to the indictment, Burchik joined on or around October 2013, before reaching his current position by March 2014.
Burchik was first named as the executive director in a series of documents that were leaked by a group called Anonymous International in 2014. “I have heard of it, but I don’t work in this organization,” Burchik told the New York Times during its 2015 investigation of the troll farm. But the email the Times corresponded with matched the one used by the Mikhail Burchik in the document dump.
During the 2016 election, according to the indictment, he was a manager “involved in operational planning, infrastructure, and personnel” who had in-person meetings with Prigozhin.
Krylova is listed as onetime director of the Internet Research Agency and as the group’s number three is the highest-ranking official whose name hadn’t been connected previously to the troll farm. She joined the group in 2013 and stayed at least until November 2014, if not presently.
According to the indictment, Krylova was one of two defendants who obtained visas under “false pretenses” and in June 2014 traveled to the United States. During that trip, she visited Nevada, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Illinois, Michigan, Louisiana, Texas, and New York.
Bogacheva allegedly worked for a department inside the Internet Research Agency that was known as the “translator project.” This was, per the indictment, the project that “focused on the U.S. population and conducted operations on social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.” While on the project, she oversaw its data analysis.
Bogacheva joined Krylova on her trip to the US. Prior to their departure, according to the indictment, they “planned travel itineraries, purchased equipment […] and discussed security measures (including ‘evacuation scenarios’).”
Polozov served as the IT manager for the Internet Research Agency, according to the indictment. He also oversaw the “procurement of U.S. servers and other computer infrastructure that masked [the Internet Research Agency’s] Russian location when conducting operations” in the US.
Maria Bovda served as head of the translator project, according to the indictment, though not much else is known about her. She worked at the troll farm from at least November 2013 until at least October 2014.
Robert Bovda was the alleged deputy head of the translator project and attempted to make the trip to the US with Krylova and Bogacheva. But the State Department denied his visa request. The indictment does not note what, if any, relationship Robert has with Maria Bovda.
Aslanov, who also at one point led the “translator project,” joined the troll farm in September 2014 and oversaw many of the operations targeting the 2016 US election, according to the indictment. An article published in Russian business magazine RBC in October 2017 identifies Aslanov as a 27-year-old native of Azerbaijan who was known to other employees of the “American division” as “Jay-Z.”
He first came to St. Petersburg to study economics at the Russian State Hydrometeorological University, according to the magazine, and lived in the US and visited London as a student.
“Jay was a really not bad manager: not the most competent in this field, well, frankly speaking, generally incompetent, but he had assistants,” a former employee of the Internet Research Agency told Dozhd TV.
Aslanov denied any connection to the organization to RBC.
He was also registered as the general director of a company called Azimut LLC, according to the indictment. He’s charged not only with conspiracy to defraud the US but also committing bank or wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
Podkopaev, an analyst on what the indictment describes as the “translator project,” joined the organization in June 2014. He was in charge of doing research on the US and drafting social media content.
Vasilchenko was in charge of “posting, monitoring and updating the social media content” for accounts run by the organization. He pretended to be different Americans or American grassroots groups on social media. He worked for the organization for two years, from August 2014 to September 2016. According to the indictment, Vasilchenko later served “as the head of two sub-groups focused on operations to interfere in the US political system,” including the 2016 election. Valischenko has also been charged with wire and bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.
Kaverzina served on the same project and posted social media content posing as “multiple US personas,” according to the indictment. She joined the organization two years before the election, in October 2014.
“I created all these pictures and posts, and the Americans believed it was written by their people,” she wrote in an email to a family member last September, according to the indictment.
Kaverzina also admitted she and her colleagues were destroying the evidence.
“We had a slight crisis here at work: the FBI busted our activity (not a joke). So I got preoccupied with covering tracks,” she wrote.
Like Valischenko and Aslanov, she has also been charged with aggravated identity theft.
Venkov operated multiple social media accounts posing as American users, posting and monitoring content for the troll farm. He began working there in March 2015. He is also charged with aggravated identity theft.
Hayes Brown is a world news editor and reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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Vera Bergengruen is a Pentagon reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
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