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Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Delivers Remarks on Enforcement Actions to Disrupt and Prosecute Russian Criminal Activity


Washington, DC
United States

Remarks as Delivered

Good morning.

When we announced the launch of the KleptoCapture Task Force last month, I said we would leave no stone unturned in our efforts to investigate, arrest, and prosecute those whose criminal acts enable Russia to continue its unjust war in Ukraine.

That is a promise we are keeping.

I am joined here by Deputy Attorney General Monaco and FBI Director Wray. Also here are Assistant Attorney General Olsen, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General McQuaid, FBI Cyber Section Chief Frigm, and KleptoCapture Task Force Director Adams.

Today, we are announcing several actions the Justice Department has taken to disrupt and prosecute criminal activity associated with the Russian regime. 

The first action we are announcing today is the unsealing of an indictment charging Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev with sanctions violations.  

As the indictment charges, the Treasury Department previously identified Malofeyev as one of the main sources of financing for Russians promoting separatism in Crimea, and for providing material support for the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic. 

After being sanctioned by the United States, Malofeyev attempted to evade the sanctions by using co-conspirators to surreptitiously acquire and run media outlets across Europe.

We are also announcing the seizure of millions of dollars from an account at a U.S. financial institution, which the indictment alleges constitutes proceeds traceable to Malofeyev’s sanctions violations.

The Justice Department will continue to use all of its authorities to hold accountable Russian oligarchs and others who seek to evade U.S. sanctions.

The second action we are announcing today is the disruption of a global botnet controlled by the Russian military intelligence agency — commonly known as the GRU.

The Russian government has recently used similar infrastructure to attack Ukrainian targets.

Fortunately, we were able to disrupt this botnet before it could be used. Thanks to our close work with international partners, we were able to detect the infection of thousands of network hardware devices. 

We were then able to disable the GRU’s control over those devices before the botnet could be weaponized.

Today’s announcements are part of a series of actions that the Justice Department has recently taken to disrupt and prosecute criminal activity associated with Russia.

Yesterday, together with our German law enforcement partners, we seized the Russia-affiliated Hydra darknet market — the world’s largest illegal marketplace on the dark web. We also filed criminal charges against a Russian national who we allege administered the market’s technical infrastructure.

And on the day before that — again together with our international partners — we seized the Tango, a superyacht owned by Viktor Vekselberg, another sanctioned oligarch with close ties to the Russian regime.

On that same day, we obtained seizure warrants targeting the assets of several additional sanctioned Russian nationals.

The Justice Department will continue to work alongside our international partners to hold accountable those who break our laws, threaten our national security, and harm our allies. 

Our message to those who continue to enable the Russian regime through their criminal conduct is this:

It does not matter how far you sail your yacht.

It does not matter how well you conceal your assets.

It does not matter how cleverly you write your malware or hide your online activity.

The Justice Department will use every available tool to find you, disrupt your plots, and hold you accountable.

Finally, I cannot close without acknowledging the horrible images that all of us have seen coming out of Ukraine — particularly from Bucha — this week.

We have seen the dead bodies of civilians, some with bound hands, scattered in the streets.

We have seen the mass graves.

We have seen the bombed hospital, theater, and residential apartment buildings.

The world sees what is happening in Ukraine.

The Justice Department sees what is happening in Ukraine.  

This Department has a long history of helping to hold accountable those who perpetrate war crimes. One of my predecessors — Attorney General Robert Jackson — later served as the chief American prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials. 

Today, we are assisting international efforts to identify and hold accountable those responsible for atrocities in Ukraine. And we will continue to do so.

I am now going to turn over the program to Deputy Attorney General Monaco, who will share more information about the indictment that was unsealed today.

Updated April 6, 2022