Russia is an easy scapegoat. As we explain in Splitting Pennies - the world is not as it seems. The US Government spent billions of dollars creating the false narrative of Russia as an 'enemy' as the post WW2 "War Department" knew very well based on focus groups and RAND reports that unless they could come up with enemies that scared the public at large, getting those billions and hundreds of billions wouldn't be so easy.
(Another photo of a Military "Storage Site" in Arizona with billions of unused planes 'just in case)
First let's quickly look at Russia as a proxy state. As we saw with KimDotCom, there are few places in the world one can hide. Russia is one such place. It is possible to go to Russia and the Stans and vanish. No one will ask questions, if you have a little money. No one will care to ask. So that's one thing to consider. You are a hacker based in NYC. It really is only a matter of time before you will be caught. The web of surveillance is so deep in the west, it's electronic, it's physical - you can't exist without eventually leaving a trace somewhere. Or to put it differently, the only way to stay hidden here is to not exist, that means no working or communicating with people or the 'system' - possible but if you need money or get bored then it presents a problem (as you will reveal yourself to the system). Russia is not the only country in the world to hide, but presents some interesting advantages due to the political conflicts they have with most countries, and who wants to live in Africa, really.
Second, Russia is a great proxy for hiding your IP. Many hackers will traceroute their signal through Russian servers, which can be rented cheaply. Many IP obfuscation software such as HideMyAss will offer Russia as an option, such that users can 'appear' that they are in Russia. So the 'digital mafia' if you will, or 'hackers for hire' will often mask themselves as "Russian Hackers" when in fact there is nothing Russian about them at all. The CIA does this, the NSA does this, and hackers do it too. A Russian IP can be the difference between being caught and not. Causing a political scandal is a bonus "Those pesky Russians are at it again!"
The fact is Russia is very backward. Just recently a shopping mall burned and more than 70 children died. It's a travesty, a horror. They have no building codes, no fire escape requirements, people jumped out of windows like during 911. Russia doesn't have an internal system to 'catch' hackers nor do they have any interest in doing so, they have much bigger priorities. Russia has real problems (but, they are not caused by Putin, contrary to media reports). There are no bankruptcy laws in Russia, no consumer protection. The last thing they are worried about are hackers or DMCA. The point is there are many reasons that Russia is used as a proxy both technically and jurisdictionally..
Third, there are actual Russian hackers and 'hack for hire' groups and individuals that work globally from Almaty, Moscow, and many other places. They travel globally but when they are working you can bet they aren't doing it from NYC. That's the irony of modern Russia, legit Entrepreneurs like Pavel Durov are forced to live like global digital Bedouins. "Only in Russia"
So for example it would be quite possible for the DNC, or any US based group for that matter, to hire "Russians" to do "hacking" or "security analysis" may be what they are telling their accountants now to book the transaction as.
Russia is a black hole. So as the expression goes, all roads lead to Rome - All roads that lead to Russia lead to nowhere. It's a digital dead end, perhaps the only one left in the world (not counting poor undeveloped countries) which is perhaps why many are so irritated that Russia stays independent and grows internally so vibrantly.
So next time you read or hear about how "Russians" hacked this or "Russians" did that electronically, replace "Russians" with "Anyone".