U.S. Offers $10 Million Reward For Russian Election Interference Info

A close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and a troll farm that, according to officials, fueled a divisive social media campaign in 2016 were among the Russian entities that the State Department on Thursday offered a reward of up to $10 million for information about their involvement in Russian election meddling in the United States.

The reward, provided by the department’s Rewards for Justice programme, is offered in exchange for information regarding the Internet Research Agency, wealthy businessman Yevgeniy Prigozhin (also known as “Putin Chef”), and other organizations involved in meddling in the 2016 U.S. election that Republican Donald Trump won.

As part of special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation into whether Russia had collaborated with the Trump campaign to impact the election, Prigozhin, and 12 other Russians were indicted alongside the IRA in 2018. The defendants were charged with running a massive, covert social media trolling campaign to create strife over contentious subjects and support Republican Donald Trump in his campaign against Democrat Hillary Clinton. According to authorities, Prigozhin funded the IRA through businesses he owned.

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None of the defendants have ever gone to court in America. In 2020, the Justice Department moved to drop the charges against two Russian companies that were named in the indictment, claiming that it had come to the conclusion that a trial against a corporate defendant—who had no presence in the United States and had no chance of receiving any serious punishment even if found guilty—would probably expose sensitive law enforcement methods and tools.

The prize was part of “wider efforts to ensure the security and integrity of our elections and protect against foreign influence in our elections,” according to the State Department.

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