Russia’s stealth propaganda division is facing some unwanted attention: A former employee is suing the internet blog commenting factory for labor violations.
Lyudmila Savchuk is suing The Agency for Internet Studies–referred to as a “troll factory,” and operating out of St Petersburg–for missing wages and other violations. Like others, she was paid to write online comments that hail Vladimir Putin’s policies.
The agency is offering to settle to avoid the public backlash. Defense, Yekaterina Nazarova, said to the Petrogradsky district court judge that the agency would settle for the requested sum of 10,000 roubles ($185). She said she would wire the money to Savchuk, and then left the court and gave no comment to the press.
“I am very pleased,” Savchuk said. “They pretended they don’t exist at all and now they have come out of the shadows for the first time – we saw their representative. But I will feel that I won only after the troll factory closes completely.”
Savchuk explained that she worked there for two months, and left in March, vowing to expose it.
The agency is said to perform underhanded work for the Kremlin on the internet, trolling news sites and posting comments aimed at bloggers opposed to Putin’s regime. This issue has become worse since Russia’s conflict in the Ukraine.
Ivan Pavlov, Savchuk’s attorney, said Tuesday’s results made him suspect that the agency is trying to avoid public scrutiny: “I suppose the defendant considers it a lesser evil to recognise the lawsuit and pay compensation.”
Despite the money offered as compensation during the lawsuit against The Agency for Internet Studies, Savchuk intends to meet with her lawyer at the agency to continue efforts and expose the pro-Putin internet trolls.