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Russia. Media: Yevgeny Prigozhin closes the “troll factory”

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Yevgeny Prigozhin informed the heads of his media holding Patriot that the company would be liquidated, the independent Meduza portal wrote, citing its own sources. Telegram channels report that the head of the mercenary formation Wagner Group is also to close the “troll factory”.

Meduza refers to the former head of the Patriot holding company. The current bosses of this company did not want to comment on the matter.

The Russian daily Kommersant reported on Friday that the media watchdog, Roskomnadzor, had blocked several websites linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin. Officials did not provide reasons for the decision.

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“Also, the website of the Patriot concern, which brings together all media controlled by Prigozhin, is currently unavailable in Russia” – reported “Kommersant”.

Yevgeny PrigozhinConcord Press Service

Telegram channels report, citing anonymous sources, that Prigozhin is to dissolve not only the Patriot media holding, but also to close the St. Petersburg “troll factory”. Patriot and the “troll factory” may be taken over by a company associated with Yuri Kovalchuk, considered a close associate of the president Vladimir Putin.

READ THE PREMIUM TEXT: Yevgeny Prigozhin. The mongrel of capitalism made in Russia

The headquarters of the Wagner Group in St. PetersburgPAP/EPA/ANATOLY MALTSEV

In specially equipped offices

Prigozhin’s “troll factory” – officially the Internet Studies Agency – was reported by independent Russian media as early as 2013. “Novaya Gazeta” wrote then that in St. Petersburg and Moscow “internet trolls operate in specially equipped offices, praising the mayor of Moscow Sergei Sobyanin and Vladimir Putin and criticizing the oppositionist Alexei Navalny and USA“.

The headquarters of the “agency” was located in the Olgino district of St. Petersburg. Just like the headquarters of the mercenary Wagner Group.

Internet trolls created social media posts, edited messages and recorded videos. The Russian section of Radio Svoboda estimated that the “agency” could employ up to 400 people. Their task was to disseminate content praising the Russian authorities and criticizing Western values.

Radio Swoboda reported on Friday that after initiation rebellion by Prigozhin and the mercenaries of the Wagner Group, most of the employees of the Patriot media holding in St. Petersburg did not show up for work. A search was carried out in the company’s building. Prigozhin’s media assets were managed by Ilya Gorbunov, a former employee of the pro-Kremlin propaganda agency RIA Novosti and the high-circulation newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda in St. Petersburg, Radio Svoboda reported.

Kommersant, Radio Liberty, meduza.io, tvn24.pl

Main photo source: PAP/EPA/ANATOLY MALTSEV

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