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Wednesday 21.03.2018 | Name days: Una, Unigunde, Dzelme, Benedikts

SP: Kremlin-financed internet trolls operate in Latvia

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUSo-called trolls, who create an image in Russia’s favour, work in Latvia’s information space, as noted by Latvian Security Police.

Authorities continue to find more proof that Russian power institutions directly or indirectly finance internet commentators who take part in discussions on social networks, portals and blogs. The so-called trolls work in Russian media and internet environments and foreign information spaces, including Latvia, as reported by De Facto programme of LTV.

«Security Police analyses processes that transpire in the country’s information space. This includes measures aimed at identifying trolling activities for the creation of political and ideological opinions in Latvia that are favourable for Russia. Trolling activities and re-publishing of Russian propaganda materials in Latvia in regard to political and social processes have been uncovered,» – as mentioned in the report by SP.

NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence in Latvia has analysed the strategy of Russian trolls in Ukraine.

«Posts are mostly praising Russia: state that Vladimir Putin is a great, strong and fair leader; that Russia’s foreign policy is right, just and legitimate and that the Euro-Atlantic structure is problematic and that our [Latvia] country’s membership in such structures will only harm it,» – explains the centre’s senior expert Elīna Lange-Ionatamišvili.

She admits that even though no exact surveys have been carried out, trolling activities in Latvia are apparent: «As a citizen that uses social media, I have seen activities that can be classified as trolling. This has been seen in Latvian as well. What is interesting that these statements do not always cover the topic of Putin or Ukraine; they may apply to USA, saying that this country is the one dictating what NATO does. This sets a specific kind of information background for the person to project to when looking at other events, including the crisis in Ukraine, having interpreted it in favour of Russia.»

It is unknown how often Latvian residents become victims of this information weapon. «A research effort would provide us with information regarding IP addresses in Riga or any other city, where a small group of trolls has set up shop,» – says researcher of Eastern European Policy Research Centre Māris Cepurītis.

Right now it is unknown how many social network accounts are fake and are used solely by trolls to write comments on news portals. It would be very important to learn how many trolls in Latvia are actually financed by the Russian government. This is because one of their main objectives is to use fake comments, blog posts and discussions on the internet in order to create the impression that residents of other countries support Russia’s actions.

«The goal of the information war waged by the Russian Federation is to divide our society. We know that 30% of marriages are formed between Latvians and foreigners. This means that our community is not divided at all. Trolling, on the other hand, can create the impression that we consist of two hateful groups,» – said former head of Constitution Protection Bureau Jānis Kažociņš in his interview with De Facto programme.

«We need internet operators. Work in an office. Duties: publication of internet comments, blogs and social network communication. Weekly wage, free lunches!» This job advert was found on one Russian social network. Russian journalists were the first ones to report trolling activities. It was uncovered in a research that trolls were hired by a firm local media called the House of Trolls. It is located in St Petersburg and is linked to a businessman who has ties to Vladimir Putin.

According to documents published by ‘Anonymous’ hackers group, the House of Trolls has nearly 600 people. They regularly take part in discussions on social networks, news portals and blogs on a daily basis.

Topics comply with objectives set by the Russian political elite – praise the President and the state, curse the opposition. There are also specific quotas – a specific number of comments per day. Trolls are paid well: local journalists have estimated that the work of the House of Trolls in St Petersburg is worth EUR 600,000 per month.

Journalists of Novaya Gazeta performed an experiment and applied for work. «We were asked what articles we like writing and told us which department to work in – blogging or social networks; gave topics every day. For example – today we blacken such and such opposition politician. It looks like your typical office – with rules and wage. Many of the employees are students; they take it as regular work and do not discuss politicians at all. I am convinced that this is not the only establishment of this kind,» – said Novaya Gazeta journalist Aleksandra Garmazhapova in her conversation with LTV.

It is interesting that the House of Trolls in St Petersburg also has an agency registered in Kharkov. It produces articles in favour of separatists in Eastern Ukraine and Russia. Their articles are often referenced by Latvian media as well – Vesti internet version and TVNET portal.

Russian trolls use the same scheme to work with in European countries as well. De Facto mentioned that informed sources had told that one of the Russian special services has a department the goal of which is to influence opinions in Estonia, including by means of trolling. According to information from Lithuanian Defence Ministry, it is likely that Estonian information space has a troll problem.


Leave a reply

  1. Linda says:

    Looks like there is a fair few of these on BNN commenting pages. Not me tho’ I prefer to Russia watch.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. B says:

    Does the name of Mike Walsh ring a bell ? Mike Walsh—->alcoholic , wife beater ,dog kicker , and russian troll extraordinaire .

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. Mike Walsh says:

    This is too true.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. Tom says:

    Linda, Mr Walsh was always a multiple character, there was never just one in the first place.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Mike Walsh says:

      I have only ever tried to make amends for the completely horrible things I have said on this site. It is the 9th step.

      Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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