Listen: Russia, United States, Saint Petersburg discussed on Russia Rising
"Nondescript apartment buildings and offices, and there's one building year that's four stories tall that has a large for rent sign hanging in the window. And if not for the Russian translator who is accompanying me here, I would never guess that. This was the home of the internet research agency, the official name for the now notorious Russian troll factor. The Kremlin troll is a known thing in Russia. The American and Canadian it's weren't prepared for it. I'm Jeff simple. The Europe bureau chief for global news. And this is Russia rising as a Canadian correspondent based in Europe. I do a lot of reporting on Russia. It's a world superpower, of course, hugely important country. And it's one that's not afraid to throw its weight around on the world stage and Russia is constantly being accused of behaving badly of meddling hacking doping invading neighboring countries, even assassinating former spies, but despite all of that coverage and constant attention. I think Russia is also deeply misunderstood by many people in the western world including Canada. So on this podcast. We'll try to piece together the puzzle separate fact from fiction and unravel the mystery that is Russia with help from those who know her best and on this episode. We're going hunting for trolls not. The kind that live under bridges and carry large clubs. I'm talking about Russian internet trolls credited, these using the internet to manipulate political opinion can Russia, according to one full the Russian internet troll, the United States to like the kind accused of interfering in the 2016 US presidential campaign. Facebook told congress Russian trolls hosted eighty thousand items from January two thousand fifteen this August two thousand seventeen rushing reaching more than twenty million in the United States. In fact, this evening new report about Russia's efforts to stir up racial conflict right now inside the United States. But how do those trolls actually work and come on? Is it really possible for a group of people on the internet to affect an election result in a different country and besides the United States, which we've heard a lot about. I also wanted to know if. Other countries specifically Canada are targeted to. So I came to Saint Petersburg to ask a guy who knows firsthand what these trolls are up to you. See Vitale best ball of used to be one of them. Vitol, Ian, I meet at a park in Saint Petersburg. And we find a bench where we can sit down and chat. He did not want to meet near his house because he said he was worried that we might inadvertently identify the location where he lives and that he could then be targeted for speaking to us about his experience at the troll factory. And it's hard to blame the guy for being worried. We tried reaching out to a few other former professional trolls who used to work at the trophy factory and have since quit and spoken publicly about their experiences, but most of them don't want to talk anymore. They say they've been threatened with criminal charges. Accused of being an American spy, for example, another one we spoke to had a family member fired from their job after he did an interview and batali himself has actually done. Some media interviews before and paid the price. He says he's been threatened with espionage charges and had his reputation smeared by. Stories produced by the Kremlin controlled TV channels in Russia. They accused him of being a drug addict, for example. But despite all of that, he bravely agreed to meet with us and speak to us about his experience. Gave it a lot of fun. But I believe it's important for me to tell my story. No. The TV channels like yours report on exit. Now, I've got to admit batali doesn't exactly look like a Russian troll. I mean, he's a skinny young guy wearing his hat backwards. He's got a stuttered bracelet on his wrist and more than a few tattoos running up. His arm of words written in Russian seraphic when I asked him about the tattoos. He rolls up his sleeve and shows me that he's actually got the face of a Russian opposition leader drawn on his shoulder. So not exactly the pro Kremlin. Propagandist.."