Russian troll farm targeted in arson attack

Russian troll farm targeted in arson attack
© Thinkstock

The office of a Russian internet troll farm linked to election interference efforts by Russia's government during the 2016 presidential election was set on fire in an arson attack early Tuesday morning, according to reports.

The Moscow Times reports that the office of the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency was set ablaze around 3 a.m. Tuesday local time by an unknown suspect who used a Molotov cocktail to start the fire.

Surveillance footage shows a window being broken by an unknown suspect, who sets the fire while a female employee flees the office, according to the Times. Police told Russian news outlet RBC that an investigation is underway.

ADVERTISEMENT

An editor with Federal News Agency, one of about 16 websites operated by the Internet Research Agency that generate Russian-slanted news content, told the Times that the fire was likely related to the agency's content, noting that other attacks have occurred. 

“I believe this is tied to FAN’s activities,” chief editor Yevgeny Zubarev said. “We’re most often attacked online, but these types of attacks have already taken place offline.”

The Internet Research Agency is believed to be run by Russian billionaire Yevgeny Prigozhin, an oligarch with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Earlier this year more than a dozen employees of the operation were indicted by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's office on charges related to election interference.

The agency has since rebranded as a news conglomerate following reports of its activities during the 2016 election, according to the Times, but it reportedly still engages in the posting of divisive political content aimed at American audiences on various social media platforms.

None of the Internet Research Agency's employees, who reside largely in St. Petersberg, has stood trial in the U.S. for election interference charges, and Russia's government refuses to extradite its own citizens.