Special counsel Robert Mueller has filed a 37-page indictment in U.S. District Court alleging illegal interference in the 2016 election that made Donald Trump president.
A grand jury has charged 13 Russians and three companies—Internet Research Agency LLC, Concord Management and Consulting LLC, and Concord Catering—with "knowingly and intentionally" conspiring with each other.
According to the indictment, this was "to defraud the United States by impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful functions of government through fraud and deceit for the purpose of interfering with the U.S. political and electoral processes, including the presidential election of 2016".
Charges include aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
The indictment alleges that this work began as early at 2014 with the help of funding from one of the defendants, businessman Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, and companies he controlled.
Russian president Vladimir Putin is not named in the document, but Prigozhin's nickname is "Putin's chef".
That's because he operates restaurants and catering businesses that have frequently served the Russian president and foreign dignitaries.
"Defendants, posing as U.S. persons and creating false U.S. personas, operated social media pages and groups designed to attract U.S. audiences," the indictment alleges. "These groups and pages, which addressed divisive U.S. political and social issues, falsely claimed to be controlled by U.S. activists when, in fact, they were controlled by the Defendants."
The indictment also alleges that defendants and coconspirators stole U.S. identities, including people's social security numbers and dates of birth.
"Using these means of identification, Defendants and their co-conspirators opened accounts at PayPal, a digital payment service provider; created false means of identification, including face driver's licenses; and posted on ORGANIZATION-controlled social media accounts using the identities of these U.S. victims."
Misleading Instagram accounts were allegedly created with names such as "Woke Blacks", "Blacktivist", and "United Muslims of America" to discourage people from voting for Hillary Clinton by either supporting Green candidate Jill Stein or by boycotting the election.
According to the indictment, the defendants allegedly posted ads advocating for Trump or opposing Clinton and did not report these expenditures to the Federal Election Commission.
These ads were allegedly paid through PayPal accounts.
In addition, the grand jury alleges that the defendants did not follow the law and register as foreign agents with the U.S. Department of Justice.