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A former "Kremlin troll" says she is suing her old employer to shut down what she describes as a "factory" churning out Internet propaganda defending Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The trial opened Monday in St. Petersburg but was immediately delayed until June 23 because the defendant failed to show up, Lyudmila Savchuk told The Associated Press on Tuesday. In her lawsuit, Savchuk seeks moral damages and demands the closure of the company, Internet Research, saying its employees did not have proper Russian employment contracts.
In an interview in April, Savchuk told the AP how she and hundreds of colleagues in St. Petersburg managed several social media accounts, flooding the Internet with pro-Putin commentary and doctored images that landed on Russian and Western news websites. In some departments, she said, the so-called Internet trolls received daily talking points on what to write and what emotions to evoke. She said most of the workers are young and are attracted by relatively high monthly salaries of 40,000 to 50,000 rubles ($800 to $1,000).
Her descriptions of the work coincide with those of other former trolls who have spoken publicly, although Savchuk is one of the few willing to have her full name published. She quit after two months, deciding she couldn't stand being part of a propaganda machine. "It ought to be closed," Savchuk said.