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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, Sept. 3


Although thesand sculptures at the Peter and Paul Fortress are more centrally located and therefore more visible to the throngs of tourists, the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburgs own collection closes today so fans of the classic beach activity should get there while they can.



Thursday, Sept. 4


Vladimir I. Danchenkov, Head of Baltic Customs, will be in attendance during AmChams Customs and Transportation Committee Meeting convening this afternoon at the organizations office near St. Isaacs Square at 3 p.m.



Friday, Sept. 5


Scrabble lovers and chess masters get their chance to assert their intellectual dominance at the return of the British Book Centers Board Game Evenings tonight. Held weekly on Friday nights, the event gives both board game lovers and those hoping to improve their English the chance to meet, greet and compete. Check out the centers VK page for more details.



Saturday, Sept. 6


Athletes will relish the chance to get the latest gear and try out something new at I Choose Sport, an annual event at Lenexpo forum that plans to welcome more than 30,000 people this week to the international exhibition center. Not only will visitors get to try their hand at various athletic endeavors but they will also be able to peruse equipment that can fulfill their dreams of becoming a champion.


Local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg open their season this evening at home against Lokomotiv Yarovslavl at the Ice Palace arena next to the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. See their website for a full schedule and available tickets.



Sunday, Sept. 7


Check out retro and antique cars at Fort Konstantin on Kronstadt Island in the Gulf of Finland at FORTuna, a yearly car festival that highlights the eccentricities of the Soviet automobile industry. A car race, contests and a stunt show will give visitors a chance to rev their engines.



Monday, Sept. 8


This evening marks the opening of the two-week ballet festival High Season at the Mikhailovsky Theater. Check the theaters website for more details about performances and featured dancers.



Tuesday, Sept. 9


Discuss the latest news and issues at the AmCham Hazardous Waste Management Roundtable this morning in the Tango Conference Hall of the Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge on Birzhevoy Pereulok. Starting at 9 a.m., planned topics include the Krasny Bor landfill and waste transportation between Russia and Finland.


Learn more about the citys modern architectural trends at the SPIBA Real Estate and Construction Committees meeting on the topic Contemporary Petersburg Style: What is It? Participants will get the chance to discuss whats in-demand with RBI Holdings Irina Petrova and Lubava Pryanikova, and the current state of the local real estate market. Please confirm your attendance by Sept. 5 through SPIBAs website if you wish to attend.



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