War in Ukraine: Russia uses a troll factory to relay its propaganda, warns London
Sylvie Claire / May 2, 2022
Pro-Russian trolls are waging an information war from a former factory in St. Petersburg, targeting Western leaders and relaying Kremlin propaganda about Ukraine, the British government reported Sunday, commissioning a study on the subject.
The report, whose authors were not identified for security reasons, shows how the Kremlin uses a troll factory to relay lies on social networks and in comments on sites with a large audience, the British Foreign Office said in a statement.
According to the statement, the Russian disinformation campaign is designed to manipulate international public opinion regarding the Russian war in Ukraine. According to the research, pro-Russian agents recruit trolls on Telegram who are paid to target the accounts of Western media and leaders on social networks and relay pro-Kremlin propaganda.
Among the leaders targeted, Boris Johnson, but also the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz or the head of European diplomacy Josep Borell.
Daft Punk, David Guetta or the German metal band Rammstein have also been targeted in this disinformation campaign, very active on Instagram, YouTube and Tiktok.
Another technique used by these trolls is to amplify and give more visibility to publications of ordinary users and that go in the direction of the Kremlin, reports the study. A way to escape the measures put in place by social networks to combat disinformation on their platforms.
A group known on Telegram as Cyber Front Z would be at the heart of these maneuvers and would rent its premises in a former arms factory located in St. Petersburg. The group is suspected of being linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin, a tycoon close to the Kremlin notably accused of playing a role in Russian interference during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the British ministry said. Prigozhin is among those sanctioned by London because of his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
We cannot allow the Kremlin and its troll factories to invade our online spaces with their lies, responded British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss. The UK government has alerted its overseas partners and will continue to work with its allies and online platforms to combat Russian operations.