Unmasking the Man Behind One Of Russia’s Most Popular Propaganda Channels
Vasiliev appears to have been skilled at co-opting Western fact-checking formats to lend his channel an air of authenticity. Set up on Telegram, the
Of all of Russia’s online propaganda campaigns in the early days of the war in Ukraine, none was more successful than the “War on Fakes.”
Set up on the day Russian soldiers invaded last February, the popular Telegram channel, which claims to offer “objective” and “unbiased” fact-checking of news about the war, ballooned to half a million followers in just one week, and soon was averaging 20 million views a day. For the past year, its barrage of “verified” allegations that support pro-Kremlin narratives, defend the Russian military’s actions, and deflect responsibility for atrocities against civilians have been widely cited by Russian government accounts and Kremlin boosters. But the person behind the popular pro-Kremlin channel has been unknown.
A new investigation by Logically, a U.K.-based technology firm that tracks online disinformation, says the organization has identified the man behind “War on Fakes” as Timofey Vasiliev, a former Russian journalist who has worked with Kremlin-tied organizations and currently hosts a segment on Russia’s most popular state television channel. Researchers pieced together Vasiliev’s ties to the channel when recent changes to the “War on Fakes” site’s registration revealed his name, phone number and email address, they tell TIME.
Vasiliev did not respond to TIME’s request for comment. But a review of his career indicates that he has apparently worked for government-linked communications and media organizations since 2011. Vasiliev has worked in various capacities as a “citizen journalist” for pro-Kremlin outlets, including allegedly reporting on Russian military operations from Syria and Crimea. He also worked at ANO Dialog, a Russian nonprofit that called itself a “high-tech state-owned IT company,” which worked on partnerships with the Russian government focused on social media management, targeted advertising, content marketing, and crisis communications, according to Logically’s review.
Read More: Inside the Kremlin’s Year of Ukraine Propaganda
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Source:: Time – World