Russia’s most famous “troll factory,” a building where Kremlin-financed shitposters wage a battle of words in the New Cold War, was hit with a molotov cocktail overnight. No one was injured in the attack.
The English-language news site The Moscow Times reports that the St. Petersburg building was hit around 3am local time, citing the Russian-language news website Fontanka.ru and a police source. It is currently unclear who may be behind the attack.
The Russian troll factory, which employs hundreds of people, became international news after journalist Adrian Chen first wrote about it for the New York Times Magazine back in 2015. Chen’s report was the first to expose Kremlin attempts to sow information chaos in the west before the 2016 presidential election in the United States. Formerly known as the Internet Research Agency, it has since rebranded as a legitimate news agency called Federal News Agency (FNA).
Fontanka obtained video of the incident, which has been uploaded to YouTube.
“I believe this is tied to FAN’s activities,” editor Yevgeny Zubarev said, according to a translation by The Moscow Times. “We’re most often attacked online, but these types of attacks have already taken place offline.”
In referring to other attacks, Zubarev is noting that the agency was also hit in March of this year.
The New Cold War’s battle lines have certainly spilled out into the “real world” in other ways. As another example, a former spy and his daughter were poisoned on British soil using a Soviet-era nerve agent called Novichok. Britain says that Russian spies were behind the attack, but the Kremlin denies any involvement. One bystander was killed after finding a bottle of perfume that contained Novichok.
Another video posted to YouTube shows the aftermath of the attack in St. Petersburg overnight, as well as the aftermath of the March 2018 attack. The earlier attack is easy to distinguish in the video because that’s the one with snow on the ground.
Social media companies like Facebook and Twitter have attempted to crack down on state-sponsored disinformation campaigns with only moderate success. Facebook removed hundreds of pages back in August that were believed to be Russian and Iranian influence campaigns. But legitimate American protest campaigns have also been collateral damage in the crossfire of the New Cold War.
Police in St. Petersburg are investigating the attack against the troll factory and plan to prosecute anyone responsible.