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Leaked Correspondence Shows Agencys Trolling

Published: June 4, 2014 (Issue # 1814)




  • Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Anonymous International last week uploaded hacked correspondence alleged to be between employees and their superiors at the Internet Research Agency, a secretive company based in the village of Olgino near St. Petersburg, which revealed its extensive pro-Kremlin activities on the Internet.

The correspondence showed that paid bloggers and commenters have been heavily used to infiltrate the Internet forums of Western media outlets and blogs, even posing as Westerners despite their writing hinting at their Russian background. It also showed increased activity during Russias annexation of Crimea in March and the pro-Russian separatist uprising in eastern Ukraine.

The Western media has expressed concern about pro-Kremlin commentators. In April, The Guardian newspaper ran a commentary by its readers editor Chris Elliott, called The readers editor on pro-Russia trolling below the line on Ukraine stories, where he said that Guardian moderators, who deal with 40,000 comments a day, believed there was an orchestrated, pro-Kremlin campaign going on in the newspapers comments section.

This kind of phenomenon has been well known and documented in Russia since 2005, when the Kremlin reacted to the victory of the then Maidan protests in Kiev against the flawed presidential election. Dubbed the Orange Revolution, it led to a revote and the defeat of the Kremlin-backed candidate Viktor Yanukovych. Back then, Vladislav Surkov, dubbed the Kremlins grey cardinal by Western media outlets, met with Russian rock musicians in an apparent questioning of their loyalty, a number pro-Kremlin youth movements such as Nashi were launched and extensive work on the Internet began. Groups of paid bloggers were created in order to flood the Internet with pro-Kremlin and anti-American comments as well as to harass the critics of President Vladimir Putin by posting hateful comments and offensive, and often pornographic, images.

However, in the last few years, these paid bloggers have moved on to the international media and blogs.

The thousands of letters recently posted by Anonymous International contained instructions on how to behave on foreign forums and social networks, and how to plan campaigns and indoctrinate Western readers. The correspondence also contained passport scans of the employees and CVs, with at least one of them being a Russian living in Germany. In addition, it showed that a number of employers were hired in April after the military conflict in Ukraine had started.

One letter contained a task of creating 50 fake accounts on Facebook for posting pro-Kremlin and anti-American comments.

According to the MR7.ru website, the Internet Research Agency employs 300 people who write 100 comments a day each, mostly in Russian but also in English and Ukrainian, resulting in 30,000 postings daily.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Aug. 20


AmCham gets back to business after a summer hiatus with todays EHS Committee Working Group Meeting. Check their website for more details.



Thursday, Aug. 21


Time is running out to see the fantastic creations on display at the 2014 Sand Castle Festival on the beach at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Adhering to the theme of Treasure Island, visitors can wander amongst larger-than-life interpretations of pirate life or attend one of the workshops held to educate a future generation of sand artists. The castles will remain on the beach until Aug. 31.



Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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