aside When Russians Published Exposé About Internet Research Agency In 2017, It Was A Local Dud

Image result for photos of RBC MAGAZINE IN RUSSIA

Can you believe that some of  the information contained within the 2/16/18 FBI’s 37-page indictment about some of the actions taken by Russians to interfere in 2016 US elections including details about Russia’s troll factory, was old news in Russia? The Russian journalists Polina Rusyaeva and Andrey Zakharov of a Russian business magazine RBC, had already published an exposé about this Internet Research Agency which was one of the Russian entities included in the FBI’s indictments.

As per the 2/18/18 Daily Beast by Anna Nemtsove, “In the summer of 2015, The New York Times Magazine published an extensive report on the Internet Research Agency’s dirty tricks in the United States, including a social media campaign to spread panic in Texas about a nonexistent terror attack. Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny put out his video investigation of Russian trolls in August 2015. And just last October RBC magazine  published a 5,000 word report on the Troll Factory that laid out in considerable detail how it tried to influence the U.S. race for the presidency with a budget of $2.2 million and 100 people (not 13).”

Image result for photos of young people in st petersburg russia

“Savchuk and the information she had gathered at the Internet Research Agency figured in several reports. She published her articles in Novaya Gazeta and other independent newspapers, and she said she would be happy to talk to Mueller’s investigators, but, so far, he hasn’t been in touch.”

 “It was just about three years ago that Savchuk, an investigative journalist, volunteered to become a mole at the Factory. Her Internet World team watched it from outside, taking photos and videos of hundreds of employees walking out of the four-story building every day at 9 p.m., while a new shift crowded by the entrance, ready to walk inside and sit shoulder to shoulder at their tightly lined-up desks, composing posts on fake accounts until 6 in the morning.”

“The Factory, at that time, was operating from a building in the suburbs of Saint Petersburg at 55 Savushkina Ave., but earlier this month it moved into a seven-story business center with multiple exits. So now it is harder for the observers to count and identify the Factory’s employees. ”

Image result for photos of young people in st petersburg russia

Here is the rest of the story…

On February 18, 2018, Adam Taylor of the Washington Post penned the following report, “The Russian journalist who helped uncover election interference is confounded by the Mueller indictments”

Excerpts:

“A 37-page indictment issued by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team on Friday brings fresh American attention to one of the strangest elements of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election: The Internet Research Agency (IRA), a state-sponsored “troll factory” in St. Petersburg.”

AP

But much of the information Mueller published on February 16, 2018 about the agency’s efforts to influence the election had already been published last October — in an article by a Russian business magazine, RBC.

In a 4,500-word report titled “How the ‘troll factory’ worked the U.S. elections,” journalists Polina Rusyaeva and Andrey Zakharov offered the fullest picture yet of how the “American department” of the IRA used Facebook, Twitter and other tactics to inflame tensions ahead of the 2016 vote. The article also looked at the staffing structure of the organization and revealed details about its budget and salaries.

Расследование РБК: как «фабрика троллей» поработала на выборах в США http://dlvr.it/Pw3G7S 

Расследование РБК: как «фабрика троллей» поработала на выборах в США

$2,2 млн, 100 человек, более 6 млн подписчиков и охват до 70 млн в неделю: журнал РБК выяснил, как «фабрика троллей» из Санкт-Петербурга пыталась влиять на исход выборов президента США

rbc.ru

 “Zakharov agreed to answer some questions for WorldViews about his reaction to the details about the IRA in Mueller’s indictments (Rusyaeva left journalism after the story came out, although she stresses she did not do so because of a reaction to the story). Zakharov explained how it was a strange feeling seeing something he had so closely investigated become a major issue in the United States, when it had not been a “bombshell” when he published his report at home.”

WorldViews: You’ve read the Mueller document. What was your reaction to it?

Andrey Zakharov: Well, of all the people who are mentioned there, only some people were the real top managers of the troll factory.

Like [Mikhail] Bystrov, who’s been the head of all its legal entities for a long time. He’s a former policeman. Another guy is [Mikhail] Burchik. We wrote about him. He was the executive director of the troll factory for a long time. And the last guy is Jeyhun Aslanov. He was and I think he’s still with the head of American department.

ILLUSTRATION BY JOE MAGEE

“The other staff mentioned are very incidental. I mean, it seems like they put down all the names they could get. Some were people who worked there in 2014 — but most of these guys didn’t work for the troll factory for a long time. They didn’t even work there during the elections. Like Krylova, she didn’t work there then. [Aleksandra Krylova is one of the two named Internet Research Agency employees the indictment said traveled to the US in 2014.]”

“It looks like they just took some employees from the that American department whose names they could get. But the American department was like 90 people. So my reaction was that, for me, it was like that curious list of oligarchs and Kremlin authorities where they put the whole Forbes list and the whole Kremlin administration on it. It’s very strange.”

“I was also very surprised that they wrote private about the private messages of one girl [Irina Kaverzina]. She wrote to relatives that FBI is following them and so on. I think they read her emails. I was very surprised by that. But generally, they seem to have got people who were not careful — who used their own email accounts or registered Twitter accounts to Russian phone numbers.”

” WV: “What was it that made you feel it was time to do a big investigation into the American section of the troll factory?”

AZ: “In March we investigated the troll factory but at that time we focused on another part of it — its work setting up official media agencies. At the end we wrote that the troll factory worked before and after the U.S. elections, and we put some statistics like 15 million likes and shares in one week and some details of the stories they were sharing. Then we forgot about the story.”

“But when Facebook and Twitter announced at the beginning of September that they closed a lot of accounts, your colleagues started to write to us about whether we knew more about this activity. We decided that everybody is so interested in the story, we should make a second investigation. We reviewed what we had uncovered in March, got some more information and wrote it.”

Image result for photos of st petersburg russia

WV: Is it difficult to report on? 

AZ: For us it was easier. I lived in St. Petersburg before and worked as a journalist there. Russian media has been covering the troll factory since 2013, long before the big investigation in the New York Times Magazine — and by the way, most of the things in that were just taken from my colleagues.

And so I used to write about the troll factory. I already had sources there. Some of my friends had even worked there as a journalist. Polina had sources, too. But yes, in some cases they were scared. In some cases, foreign colleagues asked us whether our sources would speak to them, but they were too scared to talk with anyone else.

Related image

WV: Do you think that Americans misunderstand the troll factory then?

AZ: I just don’t know. When I went in this investigation I thought that maybe we should just take all authentic groups and all movements on Facebook and then compare that with these fake groups which were posted right by the troll factory. Maybe there are more members in the authentic groups? We didn’t do it. But nobody has really tried to measure whether the influence was great or not.

It was very strange when your media started to look into the groups. It was almost like a competition, you know. “We found out that this group was operated by Russians!” but then you’d look at this group and you’d find it only had 100 members. For some time, it looked a lot like your colleagues were just going after facts and not really analyzing it. There was that big investigation of those Macedonian guys, remember? They established fake pro-Trump groups, and their groups were huge. But even though it was said that these Macedonian guys influence American people, everybody forgot about it.

Also, everyone has focused on the pro-Trump groups. What we saw was that they were trying to spread tension in the society, talking about problems people had with black people, Islam and so on. They organized anti-Trump rallies also. Yes, they were active against Hillary [Clinton], but they were not always pro-Trump. They were also active after the election. The story about the Black Fist movement — fake movement self-defense classes for black people — they started this story in 2017.

LINK TO ENTIRE REPORT:  Russian journalist who helped uncover election interference is confounded by Mueller indictments ..

This blog was last updated on February 19, 2018.

6 comments

  1. The hard part is trying to link these state sponsored troll farms with the Kremlin. Just like our CIA carrying out covert operations around the world to destabilize world gov’ts via assassinations, colored revolutions, election fixing etc, our operatives’ activities can never be traced back to Washington.

    Unfortunately for SC Mueller, he would not be able to prove direct interference from Putin, there may be allegations and inferences, but no direct connection. Mueller was right to state for the record, so ppl will become more aware of what’s happening. But how can anyone regulate or prevent troll farms on the internet, it seems impossible.

    Very informative post!

    • Dear 1EarthUnited,

      In this case the connection may be a bit easier. It seems that it was President Putin’s chef who started up this troll factory in St. Petersburg, Russia.

      Part of the reason to drive home the fact that Russia was indeed melding with US elections was to inform and educate peoples. Once Americans across the board know fully what is happening, the power of of these foreign tactics are diminished.

      People will be tracking the bots and whatever other games are being played.

      Hugs, Gronda

      • Oh, ok so the chef did it at the troll farm in St Petersburg with his PC! Damn, I was so sure Putin’s butler (Trump) was the election fixer, according to Agatha Christie’s great granddaughter. I have to hand it to our FBI, what a crack team with all the neat clues!

        Btw, did you know Putin was greatly influenced by his paternal grandfather, Spiridon Ivanovich Putin, a skilled chef who worked for Lenin, then Stalin. “[Putin’s grandfather] managed to outlive the tyrants he fed so well,” writes Katusa in The Colder War. “It required sensitive political instincts and nimble balancing… He passed what he learned to a grandson eager to hear such things.” Spiridon, reportedly trained by the NKVD (the KGB’s predecessor), died when Putin was 13.

        http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2015/02/09/Vladimir-Putin-17-Things-You-Didn-t-Know-About-Russia-s-President

        Apparently the political satire of Russian culinary arts run deep in Putin’s family history! 😉

        • Dear 1EarthUnited,

          Thanks for sharing some interesting information about Russia’s President Putin.

          But his history and accomplishments have nothing to do with the Kremlin directed Russian attack on our US democracy. And like any foreign leader who has been discovered doing harm to another powerful country, he will eventually be made to pay for it. But he will also have made skeptics of most Americans.

          Those who are foolish enough to discount the competence of the FBI do so at their own peril.

          Those who voted for President Trump = 37% of Americans who can vote. He still has these 37% or less. But that is not the majority of voters. That 37% has a hold of the republican party to where they are the ones who buy talking points disparaging the FBI. Most Americans don’t agree, so much so, that there are record numbers of voters flipping long time republican held seats, to the democratic side.

          I have to respectfully disagree with those who want to besmirch the FBI.

          Hugs, Gronda

  2. I have nothing against the FBI, just wish they would do a better job. It seems our IC agencies are getting fat and sloppy, divided by partisan politics even tho they fiercely deny it.

    A bit of tongue-in-cheek regarding Putin, I just can’t take him or Trump very seriously, they have very little credibility with me. Much of the media surrounding these world leaders have been extremely biased and polarizing.

    Also, public opinion polls are practically useless, Rassmussen Reports “Daily Presidential Tracking Poll” showed Trump with an total approval rating of 48 percent on Feb. 7, 2018. While most mainstream polls have him at 37% according to Quinnipiac. So who do you believe? Do we even care?

    • Dear 1EarthUuited,

      I use Real Clear Politics which averages out various poll companies’ results. President Trump has been at 37% for months with the exception of a couple of weeks in early February.

      Hugs, Gronda

Comment

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s