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😐 @LuluLemew
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“When Facebook banned us in April,” he said, “we declared that we would respond by establishing a group in America, we called it USA Really.” thedailybeast.com/heres-how-trum… via @thedailybeast
Russia’s Internet Research Agency [IRA], run by Poot’s chef, Yevgeny Prigozhin, is the focus of one series of Mueller’s indictments from almost 10 months ago but he also funds the Federal News Agency [FAN], which wages information war by pretending to be a legitimate news source.
FAN’s unabashed aim is to propagate “news” that supports the Pootie government.
The Federal “News” Agency might remind you of FoxNews, but Prigozhin is also behind a mercenary army known as Wagner, whose combatants, mostly recruited from the GRU, have been reported fighting in Ukraine, Syria, and the Central African Republic.
FAN’s agenda is to wage information war against Putin’s and Prigozhin’s critics in Russia, Ukraine, Syria, the United States, and Africa. The number of battlefields just keeps growing.
More than 12 million people read FAN’s news on riafan.ru.

Meanwhile, the government of Ukraine in Kiev accuses the agency of “information terrorism.”
This year, Facebook shut down the agency’s accounts, which infuriated FAN’s managers and inspired them to take the conflict to the enemy, as it were.

The RUSSIAN information soldiers PHYSICALLY moved to WASHINGTON.
“When Fb banned us in April, we declared that we would respond by establishing a group in America, we called it USA Really. Whoever wants us to surrender should not count on it. We are not going to be quiet.” - FAN’s general director, Yevgeny Zubarev
Zubarev complained about “attacks from the USA” in the form of multiple emails from American organizations and the government fighting fake news.

“The United States Cyber Command writes to me to say that what I am doing is wrong, that their job is to fight trolls,” said Zubarev.
Zubarev insists that his agency had nothing to do with the “troll farm.”

K. Fine. 🙄 Except that FAN and the IRA trolls operated out of the same address, used the same internet infrastructure, and shared links to some of the same staff.🖕🏼 thedailybeast.com/russian-trolls…
When asked to confirm or deny that FAN is owned by Putin’s friend Prigozhin, who funds the IRA, Zubarev took a long pause, then said it was his right to keep the owners anonymous.
He was much more comfortable speaking about his agency as a victim of American pressure. “Our colleagues based in the U.S. receive threats,” he said. 🖕🏼
FAN’s head office is in St. Petersburg, on the ground floor of a grim red business center called “Ilyich” (Lenin’s patronymic name ). Zubarev did not want The Daily Beast reporter to see the newsroom: “I don’t think there will be anyone to show you around,” he said.
According to an investigative report by RBK Group, recognized in Russia for independent journalism, the “media factory” costs more than $3 million a year.
FAN employs as many as 250 ppl serving 16 web portals who push news, stories about Russia’s geopolitical tensions w the West, or about an actress posting her nude photographs on IG. Independent media experts warn that each piece of info FAN publishes needs to be double-checked.
For Zubarev, a Russian journalist’s role is to be a defender of the motherland, and therefore to say only good things about its government—at least if the motherland is Russia.
To fight the information war in Ukraine, the Russians have put up at least two websites aggregating positive news about Ukraine’s eastern regions, controlled by pro-Russian military forces, and negative news about Kiev’s policy.
In Ukraine, the govt maintains “fake-news kills” & arrests Russian infowarriors.

“As soon as they discover our stringers [freelance reporters] in Ukraine, they report to SBU and accuse our people of extremism or terrorism.”
Russian propaganda rules oblige Kremlin-controlled media to avoid harsh criticism of Putin or of Kremlin policies, which officials call “provocative” coverage.
Not many Ru media outlets paid much attention to what was called “Prigozhin’s media factory,” as opposed to his troll factory. But then 3 independent journalists were killed in the Central African Republic while shooting a film about Wagner, Prigozhin’s private military force.
Several groups of independent journalists trying to investigate the murder suspected that Prigozhin might be behind the assassinations.
Out of journalistic solidarity and respect for the profession, most Russian independent media outlets make sure to describe FAN as a firm “linked to the ‘troll factory’ and Yevgeny Prigozhin” whenever they quote the websites, but not always.
Last week, Medusa, a Riga-based online newspaper and news aggregator, cited FAN without any caveat, simply saying, “According to FAN agency’s source,” in one of their own stories. This is how disinformation can be laundered and allowed to seep into the mainstream media.
Professional journalists with good reputations would hardly want to be associated with propaganda, but some may compromise when the pay is good, says Alexander Gorshkov, editor in chief of Fontanka.
Fontanka reported on the direct link between billionaire Prigozhin’s security chief, Yevgeny Gulyaev, and Wagner forces fighting in Ukraine and Syria. Fontanka has been speaking with Wagner soldiers, publishing their names, photographs, and documents since 2015.
I don’t think that FAN or USA Really will be dangerous for Americans, just like Radio Liberty’s website does not play any significant role in Russia; though we should not even compare Liberty to USA Really,” Gorshkov told The Daily Beast.
St. Petersburg is a city of communities where journalists know each other. Gorshkov said that most of FAN’s staff had nothing to do with journalism but they could write a patriotic post on Facebook, which was good enough to get hired.
“Prigozhin’s structures employ professional journalists, along w former policemen & semi-criminals. FAN pays about 60k rubles [$896] a mo, which is a big salary for a reporter based in St. Petersburg. As with Wagner soldiers we’ve interviewed, their biggest motivation is money.”
Prigozhin and Wagner are some of the most dangerous topics to report on in modern Russia. Fontanka, TV Rain, and Novaya Gazeta find their reporters under surveillance, receiving death threats as soon as they cover these topics.
“Originally, Prigozhin created his media factory to go after all his critics; every time I am about to publish or have published something about him or his Wagner, they attack me from all sides,” a journalist at TV Rain, Lilya Yapparova, told The Daily Beast.
Political figures in the Russian opposition also complain about attacks by FAN. A year ago, FAN published a story about deputy Boris Vishnevsky’s “secret meeting” with Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his aide Vladimir Kara-Murza in Tallinn.
“First, there was nothing ‘secret’ about my meeting with Kara-Murza, I had published my photograph on social media; second, I did not meet with Khodorkovsky—that was a fake piece of news,” Vishnevsky, a deputy at the St. Petersburg legislative assembly told The Daily Beast on Sat
“Prigozhin’s propaganda machine, FAN, is not to be trusted, they target people like me with fake news.”
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