Pretend to be American, organise rallies, spread message on social media

Washington: A year before Donald Trump announced his presidential candidacy, two Russian operatives landed in the United States to lay groundwork for an intelligence operation targeting the legitimacy of the 2016 election. What began as a Cold War-like attack by an old adversary would mix old-fashioned political agitation with 21st century social media tools that ultimately roiled the election and shook America’s political landscape. The indictment of 13 Russians by special counsel Robert Mueller Friday revealed that the now well-documented Russian social media campaign also relied on extensive intelligence work by operatives on US soil. It also began earlier than commonly believed, first aiming to “sow discord” ahead of the 2016 election and later to boost Trump’s candidacy. The indictment does not specifically tie the influence operation to Russia’s intelligence apparatus. (Agencies)