Russia is waging a war against the West using its trained Internet trolls by humiliating the U.S. and praising the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
A unique insight at the ‘factory’ of Russian trolls was presented by a former employee of the so-called Internet Research Agency, Lyudmila Savchuk. Russian propaganda paid trolls is apparently a real deal, according to Savchuk, who went undercover to “unveil the trolls and make them show themselves.”
Throwing mud at the West and Russian opposition, the St. Petersburg-based factory of trolls praises the regime of Putin.
The 34-year-old freelance journalist said she was employed by the troll factory as a blogger. Having her own campaign against Russia’s powerful propaganda machine, Savchuk decided to go to court and tell the public about how the Kremlin operates to disseminate its anti-American propaganda around the world through the Internet.
The Kremlin had denied any knowledge of existence of such a shadowy operation, and dismissed the notion that it was behind it. However, Russian court awarded the undercover blogger damages of one ruble (equivalent of $ 0.015) for the legal claims she put forward.
“We achieved that the existence of the troll factory was recognized, and ascertained that they are producing paid comments,” Savchuk said in an email interview with CNN.
The allegedly Kremlin-financed factory is comprised of mostly young educated people, who had difficulties in finding other jobs and were attracted by the good salary as for Russian standards.
According to Savchuk, Russian trolls were paid somewhere between 40,000 and 50,000 rubles (about $750) per month, while the undercover blogger said she had donated her pay to charity.
Every time you reply to a troll – he gets a bonus
The trolls are assigned to target U.S. President Barack Obama, Europe and Ukraine, and were told to celebrate two figures of Russia’s elite: Vladimir Putin and his defense minister Sergey Shoigu.
“Most of them do the work unconsciously and write what they’re dictated,” she noted, “If tomorrow they’re told to praise Obama and hate Putin, they will do so.”
Savchuk previously told the media that every time someone replies to a troll’s comment, the troll-commenter receives a bonus from the agency. Thus, the ‘extra salary’ of such trolls is formed by the number of likes and replies he gets.
Savchuk worked for the agency on the platform called LiveJournal, which is a popular blog hosting in Russia. One of trolls’ assignments was to create several fake accounts. One of the examples includes an account of a fortune teller who gave “veiled political theses.”
Speculation about the existence of the Putin government-sponsored trolls has been around the Internet for a while, but the trend saw a notable uptick after the relations between Washington and Russia worsened in 2014.
It is widely believed that such trolls are ordered to distort information in such a way it would be in Russia’s favor via social media posts, blogs and comments under Western media websites.
RT – crown of Russia’s propaganda machine
Vladimir Putin has succeeded in building an effective and truly invincible propaganda machine in Russia, just like in times of the USSR.
In the period of the Cold War, Soviet media outlets such as daily Pravda used to publish reports of what’s happening in foreign states so distorted and filled with pro-Russian/anti-Western sentiment that even Soviet patriots considered it so ridiculous they had to flip the page or change the TV channel.
In today’s Russia, Kremlin-sponsored RT channel, with its large staff and the tendency to report about conspiracy theories, basing its reports on biased opinions and constant attacks on Western states, has become the most popular news channel on YouTube.
Having a vast budget – about 11.87 billion rubles (about $360 million at the exchange rate of 33 rubles to 1 USD dollar in the Q1 of 2014) – RT is the crown of Kremlin propaganda machine, which has one goal: to undermine basic concepts of journalism and the idea of liberal democracy.
Images of Putin working out made the Internet laugh
This Sunday, rare images and videos of Vladimir Putin and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev working out at Putin’s summer residence near Sochi were published.
Judging by the images, Putin cares about his appearances and body and wants other people to know about it. Sweatpants, tight T-shirt and white sneakers – the Russian leader is willing to sweat to look intimidating.
The president decided to pump iron with Medvedev in front of cameras of Russian journalists, who couldn’t miss the opportunity to record such an unprecedented scene. The images were met with a large number of comments mocking the bromancing duo.
On the recorded video, Putin easily handles weights and performs various exercises on weight-lifting machines, while the workout session of the Prime Minister looks rather dull on the background, which might have been the main idea to show who is in charge.
After the intense workout, Putin and Medvedev had a lunch at a health resort near Sochi. Again, accompanied by the cameras.
Putin knows how to promote himself
It’s not the first time Putin shows off his manly, intimidating and healthy side. Ever since he came to power in 1999, Putin has been regularly appearing in front of cameras in such unusual (as for a president) circumstances.
On August 18, Putin tested the C-Explorer 3 bathyscaphe in the Black Sea. The president dived into the bottom of the Black Sea to explore an ancient shipwreck off Crimea.
The move was described by the media as an attempt to show that Putin controls the annexed territory.
Back in 2009, a number of images of shirtless Putin in camouflage pants riding a horse in Siberia appeared on the Internet. After that, the president was photographed swimming like a butterfly in one of local lakes.