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Twitter says account with 1 million followers was Putin impostor

Twitter suspended the account, saying it had received a report from Russian officials about it.
Image: Russian President Putin attends a session of the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a session of the annual Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi, Russia on Oct. 18, 2018.Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin / Reuters

Twitter on Wednesday suspended an account that had accumulated 1 million followers and that the company said falsely claimed to be an official, English-language account of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Twitter said the page, using the handle @putinRF_eng, was an impersonation. The social networking service said it suspended the account after a report from Russian government officials.

“We suspended @putinRF_eng for impersonation based on a valid report we received from Russian officials,” Twitter said from one of the company’s verified accounts. The service frowns upon accounts “portraying another person in a confusing or deceptive manner.”

Operating since 2012, the account had said since since at least 2013 that it was official, according to versions kept by the Internet Archive. An archived version from this month showed the account had just over 1 million followers.

Some Twitter users who noted the suspension on Wednesday, apparently believed the account to be official.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the suspended account.

A separate, Russian-language account that also claims to be official was still active late on Wednesday. It has more than 2.2 million followers. Like the English account, the Russian one has no "verified" symbol.