Washington: The US sanctioned a St. Petersburg-based “troll farm," a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, two Russian intelligence services and other Russian citizens and businesses indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller on charges of meddling with the 2016 US presidential election.

The penalties follow the February indictment and more than a year of criticism from Democrats and some Republican lawmakers that Trump has been too slow to act against Russia for intruding in the election.

The troll farm, called the Internet Research Agency (IRA), and all other businesses, entities and people included in Mueller’s 16 February indictment were sanctioned. They include Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a wealthy Russian known as “Putin’s chef," whom Mueller alleged controlled the IRA through two other businesses. The special counsel alleged a vast scheme to interfere with the campaign through social media and help US President Donald Trump win.

The treasury department also announced sanctions against Russia’s Federal Security Service, a spy organization know as the FSB, and its Main Intelligence Directorate, a military intelligence service known as the GRU. Igor Korobov, described as chief of the GRU, was also sanctioned, along with five other past or present senior GRU officials.

The two agencies and most of the officials had been previously sanctioned under the Obama administration.

The GRU was “directly involved" in meddling in the 2016 election through cyber attacks and was “directly responsible" for the 2017 NotPetya cyber attack, according to a statement from the treasury department. The statement also cited malicious cyber attacks by the FSB including a 2014 hack that compromised millions of Yahoo accounts.

“The administration is confronting and countering malign Russian cyber activity, including their attempted interference in US elections, destructive cyber-attacks, and intrusions targeting critical infrastructure," treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “These targeted sanctions are a part of a broader effort to address the ongoing nefarious attacks emanating from Russia." Bloomberg

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