A shadowy Russian agency that pumps out pro-Kremlin propaganda was exposed on Tuesday after a former employee took the organisation to court. Reported by AFP, Lyudmila Savchuk, one of many employees tasked with creating fake online comments in support of Vladimir Putin, sued the Agency for Internet Studies for alleged underpayment.
According to a March report, more than 300 'Agency' employees generate around 30,000 pro-Kremlin comments a day from fake accounts on Twitter, Facebook and on websites for media companies, such as the New York Times.
Lawyers for the so-called “troll factory,” which is based in St. Petersburg, moved quick to settle with the complainant to avoid any further exposure, agreeing to wire her the small sum of 10,000 rubles (around £120).
Speaking to AFP after the verdict, Savchuk said: "I am very pleased, they pretended they don't exist at all and now they have come out of the shadows for the first time, we saw their representative.” She added: "But I will feel that I won only after the troll factory closes completely."
The propaganda unit is credited with blanketing Russian news websites with a pro-Putin line, while marginalising anyone that attacks the regime. The service has reportedly expanded since the war with Ukraine.
Savchuk said she worked at the troll factory for two months after answering an advertisement in the media.