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Russian ‘Troll Factory’ Agrees to Compensate Former Employee, But She's Just Getting Started

A lawsuit by a former employee is helping pull an alleged Russian "troll factory" into the limelight. Images mixed by Tetyana Lokot.

A lawsuit by a former employee is helping pull an alleged Russian “troll factory” into the limelight. Images mixed by Tetyana Lokot.

The phenomenon of “troll factories” or “troll farms” operating on the RuNet and beyond to shape the conversations and sentiment online has by now received wide coverage in both Russian and international media. In many cases, reporters have relied on testimonies from whistleblowers who work or have worked for one of the alleged “troll factories.”

At the end of May a woman named Lyudmila Savchuk announced that she was suing her former employer, Russia’s most famous “troll factory,” the Internet Research Agency, located in St. Petersburg. Now her lawyers from human rights organization Team 29 are saying the company has agreed to compensate Savchuk over a labor dispute, in which she accused them of illegal hiring and salary practices.

Calling herself a freelance investigative reporter and a civic activist, Savchuk embedded with the “troll factory” on Savushkina street and worked for the office from January 2015 to March 2015 as an undercover “mole.” Her aim was to discover how the “factory” was managing offices full of paid staff posing as ordinary citizens online, leaving fake comments on news stories and blogs, and influencing the online discourse. Although she was unhappy with the hiring practices, Savchuk said the real purpose of her lawsuit was to force the Internet Research Agency to appear publicly before the law, so that more people could learn about the inner workings of the “troll factory.”

On June 23, the two sides finally met in court. Shortly after, Savchuk's lawyer, Ivan Pavlov, posted on Facebook that the Internet Research Agency had agreed to compensate Savchuk for unfair hiring practices, and pay her the salary she was due when she was dismissed.

Тролли сами в суд не пришли, но прислали девушку-юриста на съедение. Девушка-юрист согласилась с нашими претензиями и предложила выплатить Людмиле Савчук все положенные компенсации.

Но сила-то не в деньгах, а сами знаете в чем. Поэтому продолжение следует.

The trolls didn't appear in court themselves, but sent a woman lawyer as a sacrifice. The woman lawyer agreed with our claims and offered to pay Lyudmila Savchuk all the necessary compensations.

But the power isn't in the money, it's in you know what. So, to be continued.

Lyudmyla Savchuk and her lawyers after the court hearing on June 23, 2015. Image by Ivan Pavlov on Facebook.

Pavlov noted that the next steps would be to hold two additional meetings with Internet Research Agency to discuss the terms of the settlement, and said one of the meetings would have to take place in the “troll factory”‘s office on Savushkina street in St. Petersburg. TJournal reports that the visit to the “troll den” will take place on June 30, and that Savchuk will be accompanied by lawyers and journalists.

Among other things, representatives of the Internet Research Agency in court claimed that Savchuk was never fired per se, as her contract was still active, and suggested she might want to return to work for the company. In turn, Savchuk told TJournal she views this as yet another attempt to stall the inevitable publicity that Internet Research Agency is now facing.

Мы думали, что представители фабрики троллей опять постесняются и не придут. Однако они пришли и внезапно согласились с требованиями по моему иску. Как говорит мой адвокат, они выбрали меньшее зло.
Так что мы действительно вытащили их на свет. Тот факт, что они пришли, что прозвучало название ООО «Интернет-исследования» — это означает, что фабрика троллей существует.

We thought the troll factory representatives would shy away again and wouldn't show up. But they did show up and have suddenly agreed to the demands of my suit. As my lawyer says, they picked the lesser evil.
So we really did pull them out into the limelight. The fact that they showed up, that the name Internet Research LLC has been spoken, means the troll factory really exists.

  • Pingback: Russian ‘Troll Factory’ Agrees to Compensate Former Employee, But She’s Just Getting Started | Freedom, Justice, Equality News()

  • PhillyLib

    Channel RT is Russian TV, state run. Thom Hartman is an American progressive who appears on that Russian State run channel. I used to watch him until I googled “RT”.

    • Omar_Frank

      I never watched Russian TV, but i think Savchuk has chosen the right way to denounce the movement of Russian trolls!

      • Jared

        In fact, Omar is a troll. I ran into this kind tonight moderating. They are the polite liberal trolls who repeat the same thing over and over for this Savchuk lady.

        • Omar_Frank

          May be, we are liberals, but we struggle against communism. We are pros transparency in mass media!

          • Jared

            Okay, so if you are transparent, who do you work for?

        • Omar_Frank

          And what about Mrs. Savchuk, she is Commander in Chief in the fight with Russian trolls!

          • Bradford Manny

            If Savchuk is a Commander in Chef, she deserves a medal!

          • Jared

            Omar, you are not kidding anyone.

          • Jared

            Yes, but where are you trolling from?

      • Bradford Manny

        Do not watch TV, watch Savchuk actions! She is gorgeous!

      • daemon-mailer

        http://sotniktv.org

        It’s also a Russian TV, but a unofficial one, that’s why it’s decent. Spread a word about it.

    • Jared

      BBC is state-run. FOX, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and others are organized by corporations and funding that has special interest in spreading disinformation. There are many Western outlets that are state-run. In reality, this ladies comments cannot be proven. People are taking her up on belief and faith. She also has a Ukrainian sir-name which is telling. Have you ever ran into some of the Ukrainian trolls on the net? I have never read so much hatred in my life. Go read the Kyiv Post and you will see what I am talking about.

      • Chaz Hedley

        Have you heard that Rupert Murdoch is going to retire? Next CEO will be his son, James Murdoch. I have never liked rednecks and bigots from FoxNews, but now lawlessness of Fox will start with renewed vigor!

        • Jared

          I have not seen this.

        • KathleenGarrison

          Russian Internet fortunate to have a woman like Savchuk.

        • Jared

          See what I mean? These wackos are not even reading your comment properly. They are likely copy-paste comments.

      • AmieHarris

        Yes, network trolls exist in many countries, but not in all countries there are people who are willing to deal with them. Lyudmila Savchuk makes an important work, it would be great if there are more people who are willing to fight against trolls!

        • Jared

          Why do you trolls keep saying Lyudmila Savchuk over and over and over?

          • AmieHarris

            Why do you keep saying trolls, trolls, trolls over and over? Why do you fail to understand that Lyudmila Savchuk makes a really good work and people are grateful to her for this?

          • Jared

            Because you are trolling. It is obvious.

          • Jared

            I do not see this as “good work” I see it as a way to claim any dissent against the Kiev regime is false and anyone who is pro-Russia is a troll.

      • KathleenGarrison

        FOX, CNN, WND are also trolls, it would be great if in America there will be people like Savchuk, who is not afraid to fight against it.

        • Jared

          But you are trolling right now.

        • Jared

          You are adding to the problem not helping it.

    • Jared

      In fact, if you look down the page, most of the people below us are trolls. They are really easy to pick out. Eventually they will become more sophisticated, but not yet.

      • Adam

        Eventually there won’t be any trolls!
        The girl is going to shut down the agency.

        • Omar_Frank

          Yeah, right! It is high time to close them! Go, Savchuk!

        • Jared

          Adam, you are a hired troll I can tell.

      • Chaz Hedley

        They look like victims of Common Core.

        • Bradford Manny

          You look like a victim of CPUSA! Savchuk is a great journalist!

          • Jared

            What is CPUSA? Savchuk is not a journalist. Most likely she is a liar paid by the West. Similar to your trolling position.

          • daemon-mailer

            http://sotniktv.org

            A decent man among scum.

      • Itzel

        That’s why I believe showing of trolls is the better way to fight such structures!
        Savchuk can be named the hero of the present times!

        • Jared

          What? You are a hired troll Itzel.

          • Itzel

            Huh? Prove it, babe!

          • Jared

            Well, if you were honest you would tell us. It is easy to tell really. Your comments are not that intellectual.

      • AmieHarris

        Can you substantiate your claim?

        Most people here are people who admire those that this girl made, because she did a really good job. If you can identify trolls so easily , maybe you too should start to fight against them too? Follow the example of Savchuk.

        • Jared

          It is pretty obvious. Most people could care less about this liar. Really these articles are attempting to discredit and dissenters to US global hegemony. Sadly, people like you have fallen for this lie.

          • AmieHarris

            Why do you think this is a lie? Yes, much of what media is writing about it is lie and brainwashing, but I do not think it is news of this kind.

          • AmieHarris

            I think that every country has its own trolls, but not every country has its own Lyudmila Savchuk, who is ready to fight it.

          • Jared

            But you are adding to the problem. You are faking these comments. Where do you work, and who do you work for?

  • nodomino

    Opinions about news stories rank at the level of sewage and most people who review them do so with that knowledge. Several nations have refined the troll technique and deploy it very cleverly and massively. I have been a commenter on a few sites for many years and began being interested in ‘comments’ as a method of assessing what I thought was a reflection of public support or rejection of any particular point of view. Now I understand that in an environment of anonymity, that cannot be valid. However, nation-state supported troll operations have no difficulty determining the actual identities, or at least origins of comment posters meaning that only they can assess the real level of acceptance on any given point of view and beyond that can provide advice on how to attack or support that viewpoint to their paymasters. This leaves the dissenting population with no other valid communication than to have a protest, meet up with others in the street, yell some obscenities then go off with your new found friends for a drink or two and plot a revolution.

  • besprofitshet

    Савчук молодей…Я держу кулаки за то, чтобы она и дальше продолжала свою борьбу!!! Так держать! I belive in you!

    • Itzel

      I’m not sure she’ll be able to see your comment. Otherwise it makes no sense

    • daemon-mailer

      http://sotniktv.org

      It’s good that you speak also Russian, you can appreciate the link. Please spread a word about.

  • Omar_Frank

    I fully agree with Lyudmila Savchuk. She does the best for freedom of Russia!

    • Jared

      troll

      • Jason Miracle

        Nice to meet you, troll!

        My name is Jason!

        Go forward, Savchuk! Don’t pay attention to the people, who do not have a clue about justice and courage

        • Jared

          haha :) Where do you work Jason?

      • Omar_Frank

        I have already understood your opinion. it was not worth telling twice. I am anti-Russian troll, if you please. We express our support for Savchuk. You may read about her more. The new York Times, The Guardian and many others.

        • Jared

          I can tell English is not your first language, so I am interested where you work? How does it feel to sell your soul?

      • AmieHarris

        Why do you call him a troll? Lyudmila Savchuk really does a great job, it is not surprising that there are people who support her. So far, it’s you who behaves like a troll.

        • Jared

          You are working with him I assume?

        • Jared

          To an extent I may be “behaving” like a troll but you guys are clearly working together, and any rational human being can see this reality.

          • AmieHarris

            It looks like you live in your own reality, where the Internet is still full of trolls and Savchuk is a liar. But in reality Savchuk is the hero, thanks to whom became less trolls in the internet and now there are people who are grateful to her.

          • Jared

            She is no hero. She has provided no evidence either.

          • AmieHarris

            It is not, she was built in the organization and worked there for several months to obtain data that will allow to bring trolls out into the open and she did it.

          • Jared

            She didn’t though. There are only wild claims. No hard evidence.

    • Bradford Manny

      Well said, Franky. We need to fight! Or communism will devour half of Europe!

  • margo_b

    Good for her. Hope she will reach her goals and the troll agency will be closed!

    • Archer_Cass

      This was her main goal! Bravo!

      • Jared

        troll 3

        • Archer_Cass

          Trolls are employees of this factory from Russia. We are for the better future! We are fed up with Russian totalitarian regime! Savchuk gonna fix it!

          • Jared

            I doubt Savchuk is any savior of the world, and Russia is really not the threat. I saw your group comment on page after page. It is funny you claim to be for a better future when you are spreading disinformation.

        • Bradford Manny

          1,2,3… Savchuk is ready to die for the freedom of you and me!

    • Jared

      troll 2

  • Louis Freeman

    Savchuk is genious! We need such people as Savchuk to struggle for freedom of speech and our fights for reliable information. We need destroy all of the trolls everywhere!

    • Archer_Cass

      Of course, actions of Savchuk are a perfect way to make a career. But she did it for a good sake, for freedom of speech in Russia!

      • margo_b

        The Internet is such a huge flow of information, and sometimes difficult to distinguish a lie and the truth.
        So Savchuk is doing at least something to help everyday people not being lost through that flow.

        • Jared

          troll 6

      • Jared

        troll 5

        • Archer_Cass

          You already wrote tome! We are for the freedom of speech! We are for worldwide democracy! We are for Lyudmila Savchuk!

          • Jared

            Democracy is a joke. If only people realized that the U.S. does not support democracy but oligarchy.

    • Jared

      troll 4

  • Dorothy Wilson

    She did what she wanted. This is commendable!

    • Louis Freeman

      I do respect her!

      • Dorothy Wilson

        Yeah, she’s great! Because she’s not afraid to tell the truth!

        • margo_b

          Unlike that 400 trolles! go, Savchuk! we believe in you!

          • Jared

            troll 9

        • Jared

          same troll

          • Edward Wilfred

            Trolls are Kremlin bots who are against her!

      • Jared

        troll 8

    • Jared

      troll 7

      • regina

        Сколько вы тут будете еще в считалки играть! Савчук и правда молодец! Она победила троллей! Благодаря ей интернет, как Добби, теперь свободен от пропаганды!

        • Jared

          A Russian Troll as well?

        • daemon-mailer

          http://sotniktv.org

          Follow the link and you’ll know about another decent person. The guy could have worked at the state-run TV and become another Vladimir Soloviev, but he chose to stay a man, not a pro-kremlin scum, like “Jared” posting here.

          Please spread a word about the channel.

    • Dipsy Poo

      It is really brave from her side! I wish her good luck!

  • Archer_Cass

    I wish somebody like Savchuk will close this factory of hypocrisy!

  • msharon537

    I believe that the truth is on her side. She fights for justice. We should not listen to the lies!

    • Daniel Robinson

      What will they do if she wins? Will they build another structure or, maybe, they’ll stop?

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