Tags: Media Bias | Russia | Russia Probe | Trump Administration | social media | troll factory | vladimir putin

CNN: Putin-Linked Oligarch Backed Social Media 'Troll Factory'

Image: CNN: Putin-Linked Oligarch Backed Social Media 'Troll Factory'
Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP)

By    |   Tuesday, 17 October 2017 06:01 PM

A Russian oligarch with close ties to President Vladimir Putin allegedly financed a Moscow "troll factory" that spread fake news on social media during last year's presidential campaign, CNN reported Tuesday.

The cable network cited "multiple officials briefed on the investigation" and "internal company documents obtained by CNN."

The oligarch, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has been dubbed Putin's "personal chef" in the Moscow press — and his company, which owns a half-dozen upscale restaurants in St. Petersburg — is believed to have financed a now-defunct technology company, the Internet Research Agency (IRA), according to the report.

IRA — also based in St. Petersburg and which officially ceased operations Dec. 28, 2016 — contained a "Department of Provocations" that sought to sow fake news and social divisions in the West, according to CNN.

The department has this mission, according to one document viewed by CNN: "How do we create news items to achieve our goals."

Last December, Prigozhin was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department for providing financial support for Russia's military occupation of Ukraine.

The Treasury also sanctioned two of his companies, including his catering operation, earlier this year.

CNN reported it had "examined scores of documents leaked from Prigozhin's companies that show further evidence of his links to the troll factory."

In one case, IRA received a contract to provide "ways to monitor social media and a 'system of automized promotion in search engines,'" according to the report.

IRA also had a monthly budget of about $1 million in 2013 — and it was shared by departments that included Russian-language operations and English-speaking social media functions.

U.S. officials have long investigated IRA, according to the report.

In January, the intelligence community published an assessment of Russian involvement in last year's election. It later was declassified.

The assessment concluded the "likely financier of the so-called Internet Research Agency of professional trolls located in Saint Petersburg is a close Putin ally with ties to Russian intelligence," though the report did not name Prigozhin.

According to CNN, Prigozhin spent nine years in prison in the 1980s for fraud and robbery — and he went into the catering business after his release.

Putin later hired Prigozhin to cater his birthday parties, along with dinners with visiting leaders, including President George W. Bush in 2002 and French President Jacques Chirac in 2015.

A report in The Moscow Times referred to Prigozhin as Putin's "Personal Chef," according to CNN.

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A Moscow "troll factory" that spread fake news on social media during last year's presidential campaign was allegedly financed by a Russian oligarch with close ties to President Vladimir Putin, CNN reported Tuesday.
social media, troll factory, vladimir putin, sow discord
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2017-01-17
Tuesday, 17 October 2017 06:01 PM
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