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DOJ announces indictment of Russian oligarch, participation of those behind Ukraine war atrocities

Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Department of Justice press conference, June 25, 2021. (Department of Justice/Released)

The nation’s top prosecutor announced charges Wednesday against a Kremlin-linked Russian oligarch for violating U.S. sanctions before revealing the dismantling of a “bot network” controlled by a Russian military agency.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said the indictment of fugitive Konstantin Malofeyev was part of the ongoing targeting of Russian criminal activity and the Kremlin’s cyberattacks as the war in Ukraine rages on. Two days earlier, a yacht owned by oligarch Viktor Vekelsberg was seized by U.S. authorities in Spain.

“Our message to those who continue to enable the Russian regime through their conduct is this: It does not matter how far you sail your yacht, how well you conceal your assets,” said Garland, vowing to go after other supporters of the Putin regime.

“It does not matter how cleverly you hide your malware. The Justice Department will use every available tool to find you and hold you accountable.”

Malofeyev, 47, was believed to be living in Russia, according to court documents, and faces up to 20 years in prison on each of the two federal charges brought against him. He was accused of dodging Treasury Department sanctions that followed Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.

“Konstantin Malofeyev is closely tied to Russian aggression in Ukraine … one of the main sources of financing for the promotion of Russia-allied separatist groups operating in the sovereign nation of Ukraine,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Damian Williams.

New York-based FBI Assistant Director Michael Driscoll said the defendant, in addition to operating a pro-Putin propaganda network, recently described the Russian attack on Ukraine as a “holy war.”

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