American Bots “Impersonating” Russians Is a Reality

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


I’ve read the Ukrainian group Antimaydan” on the social network VKontakte practically since its creation. Interesting articles, interesting materials. The number of comments under posts quite often passes into the hundreds. And different things occur in comments. From time to time among commentators appear such “Russians” who actively support the Armed Forces of Ukraine and approve of the bombardment of LDPR cities. In addition, they admire the coup d’etat in Ukraine and urge to do the same in Russia, and if it doesn’t work, then at least to separate from Russia, for example, Siberia …

I deliberately put the word “Russians” in quotation marks because more often than not they are not citizens of Russia. I will give you a concrete example.

On January 18th, 2017, I, as usual, looked through the timeline of “Antimaydan”. My attention was drawn to one character – a certain “Aleksey Khanin”. On his page it was specified that he was from the Siberian city of Barnaul, there were even photos of a real person. This Aleksey called for an armed Maidan in Russia, for the cessation of Siberia, and approved of UAF crimes, saying that it is necessary to return Crimea to Ukraine. And this is being brief and reserved.

Someone can say that there are a lot of mentally ill people on the Internet, and that you shouldn’t turn pay attention to them. But I paid attention to these comments because they looked too clumsy, there was a feeling that the person writes with templates, focusing attention on key phrases like – Maidan in Russia, Ukrainians are good guys, it is necessary to separate from Moscow. And the account of this Aleksey itself was obviously fake, seemingly was created for the purpose of trolling, and it was made primitively and, as is said, without giving a sh*t.

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That’s why I decided to write a letter to the Ministry of Internal Affairs so that this character is checked for extremist activity. I attached a scan of the correspondence in the comments, a link to the account, I described my assumptions and fears, and I asked the competent authorities to investigate.

And the other day the official answer came to me from the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation that covers the St. Petersburg region. Why exactly from there? Because the headquarters of the social network “VKontakte” is in St. Petersburg.

It turned out that the photo and name belong to a real Barnaul resident, however they were taken by the malefactor from his real page in “Odnoklassniki”. Using his photo and requisites, the malefactor created a fake page on “VKontakte”, and on behalf of the alleged Russian, was engaged in spreading the “correct” opinion in comments on the network VKontakte. Do you remember this comment: “I am Crimean myself, the daughter of an officer, here not everything is so unambiguous, nobody wants separation” [A notorious troll comment about the transfer of Crimea to Russia – ed]? And as law enforcement officers found out, the fake account was created and administered from … the USA (I attach a scan of the written reply of the Ministry of Internal Affairs).

We were warned long ago that on the Internet there is a tendency that was inspired by third countries, whereby fake accounts are created, administered from these same third countries, which under the guise of Russians and Ukrainians try to create their agenda on social networks. It’s like: look, the “real” citizens of Russia are for Ukraine, against Putin, and in general for the dissolving of the State! And they also like to force and kindle national discord, and often use in their lexicon terms like “Rusnya” [pejorative for Russians – ed], “katsapyo” [pejorative for Russians – ed], “Khokhol” [pejorative for Ukrainians – ed], “Zhid” [pejorative for jews – ed], “khach” [pejorative for Armenians – ed], “Churka” [pejorative for Asians – ed], etc. We were warned about it a long time ago, but now I’ve seen it for myself.

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