Russia has turned an old factory in Saint Petersburg into a so-called “troll factory”, spreading disinformation and harassing Kremlin critics, including world leaders. The British Foreign Office reported this on Sunday on the basis of government-funded research.
The headquarters of the Troll Army is said to be located in a rented space in a factory belonging to a company that produces military equipment and technology. The ministry said in a statement that the factory would “spread lies” on social media and as comments on popular websites. The ministry described the operation as “sick”.
The salaried employees of the trolley factory will target not only politicians but, for example, musicians and bands from the UK, South Africa and India, among others. They also use online platforms to recruit new “trolls”.
According to the ministry, the accounts of several British ministers, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, have been contacted. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and EU foreign affairs coordinator Josep Borrell, among others, have also been targeted, as have bands Daft Punk, Ramstein, DJ David Guetta and Teosto.
undermining information operations
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the government had alerted its international partners. “We will continue to work closely with allies and media platforms to undermine Russian information operations,” the minister said.
Traces of the Russian operation were found on eight online platforms, including Instagram, YouTube and TikTok. Investigators say there is a suspicious link between the operation and the oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, who has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.