II. RUSSIAN "ACTIVE MEASURES" SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN
Head of Russian companies Concord Catering and Concord Management and Consulting; supported and financed the Internet Research Agency, which engaged in an “active measures” social media campaign to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The first form of Russian election influence came principally from the Internet Research Agency, LLC (IRA), a Russian organization funded by Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin and companies he controlled, including Concord Management and Consulting LLC and Concord Catering (collectively "Concord").2 The IRA conducted social media operations targeted at large U.S. audiences with the goal of sowing discord in the U.S. political system.3 These operations constituted "active measures", a term that typically refers to operations conducted by Russian security services aimed at influencing the course of international affairs.4
3 Harm to Ongoing Matter
see also SM-2230634, serial 44 (analysis). The FBI case number cited here, and other FBI case numbers identified in the report, should be treated as law enforcement sensitive given the context. The report contains additional law enforcement sensitive information.
2 The Office is aware of reports that other Russian entities engaged in similar active measures operations targeting the United States. Some evidence collected by the Office corroborates these reports, and the Office has shared that evidence with other offices in the Department of Justice and FBI.
The IRA and its employees began operations targeting the United States as early as 2014. Using fictitious U.S. personas, IRA employees operated social media accounts and group pages designed to attract U.S. audiences. These groups and accounts, which addressed divisive U.S. political and social issues, falsely claimed to be controlled by U.S. activists. Over time, these social media accounts became a means to reach large U.S. audiences. IRA employees travelled to the United States in mid-2014 on an intelligence-gathering mission to obtain information and photographs for use in their social media posts.
4 As discussed in Prut V below, the active measures investigation has resulted in criminal charges against 13 individual Russian nationals and three Russian entities, principally for conspiracy to defraud the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. See Volume I, Section V.A, infra; Indictment, United States v. Internet Research Agency, et al. , 1:18-cr-32 (D.D.C. Feb. 16, 2018), Doc. 1 ("Internet Research Agency Indictment").
IRA employees posted derogatory information about a number of candidates in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. By early to mid-2016, IRA operations included supporting the Trump Campaign and disparaging candidate Hillary Clinton. The IRA made various expenditures to carry out those activities, including buying political advertisements on social media in the names of U.S. persons and entities. Some IRA employees, posing as U.S. persons and without revealing their Russian association, communicated electronically with individuals associated with the Trump Campaign and with other political activists to seek to coordinate political activities, including the staging of political rallies.5 The investigation did not identify evidence that any U.S. persons knowingly or intentionally coordinated with the IRA's interference operation.
5 Internet Research Agency Indictment 52, 54, 55(a), 56, 74;Harm to Ongoing Matter
By the end of the 2016 U.S. election, the IRA had the ability to reach millions of U.S. persons through their social media accounts. Multiple IRA-controlled Facebook groups and