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U.S. Sanctions Russians for Hacking, Election Interference

The U.S. Treasury Department on Wednesday announced sanctions against nearly two dozen Russia-related individuals and entities over their roles in election interference, hacking the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and other malicious activities.

The Treasury Department said these individuals and entities have been added to the Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (OFAC) Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list “in response to Russia’s continued disregard for international norms.”

A total of nine officers of Russia’s GRU military intelligence service have been sanctioned for their direct involvement in efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election in the United States. These and other individuals were indicted in July for hacking the systems of the Democratic Party in an effort to steal documents and emails.

“These nine individuals worked within Unit 26165 and Unit 74455 of the GRU,” the Treasury Department said. “Unit 26165 engaged in cyber operations that involved the staged release of documents stolen through computer intrusions. Unit 74455 assisted in the release of stolen documents through various online personas, promoted those releases, and then aided in the publication of stolen content on social media accounts operated by the GRU.”

An additional four GRU officers were sanctioned for their roles in the hacker attacks targeting WADA between 2016 and 2018. These individuals were among the seven people indicted in October for their involvement in hacking activity aimed at WADA and other sporting organizations, the Westinghouse Electric Corporation in Pennsylvania, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and the OPCW’s Spiez Swiss Chemical Laboratory in Switzerland.

The Treasury Department also revealed that two Russian nationals and four companies operating news websites have been added to the SDNs list for being involved in what is known as “Project Lakhta.” This project leveraged fictitious online personas and news websites that focused on divisive political issues in an effort to interfere in political and electoral systems around the world.

Two GRU officers have been added to the sanctions list for allegedly trying to assassinate former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter using a military-grade nerve agent called Novichok in England in March 2018.

Twelve of the individuals and entities sanctioned by the Treasury Department have also been added to the Department of State’s List of Specified Persons.

The sanctions mean that US companies, including banks, are prohibited from engaging in any transactions with these individuals and entities, and that their assets in the United States can be frozen.

The Treasury Department said the government has, to date, sanctioned over 270 Russia-related individuals for “a broad range of malicious activities.”

Related: West Accuses Russian Spy Agency of Scores of Attacks

Related: U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Iranians for Hacking

Related: Trump OKs Sanctions for Foreigners Who Meddle in Elections

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.