7 times Russian government Twitter accounts trolled people on the internet

Mimi Launder
Thursday 15 March 2018 14:00
news

Official Russian government Twitter accounts appear to be on a mission to undermine the West.

Among mundane tweets promoting Russian culture and wildlife sit far darker and provocative messages, not dissimilar to the tone Russian bots used to spread propaganda during the US Presidential election in 2016.

Although these Russian government accounts – most notably, the UK Russian Embassy and Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs – don't have many followers, their tweets appear to be designed to go viral.

A Freedom House report from November 2017 pinpoints Russia, along with China, as a pioneering force in the state-led spread of misinformation, a phenomenon that moves diplomatic discourse far, far away from standard procedure.

Here are just some of the more innocuous, darker tweets.

1. This thinly veiled threat warning the UK off sanctions on Russia.

Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were poisoned in Salisbury with a Russia-made, military-grade nerve agent earlier this month.

Theresa May, who asserted it was "highly likely" that Russia was behind the poisoning, promised that the UK would be ready to take extensive measures if Russia did not provide an adequate explanation by 13 March.

In a series of tweets, the Russian embassy hit out at the UK, promising a like-for-like response to any sanctions taken against them.

2. This tongue-in cheek response to Theresa May's sanctions on Russia.

May moved to dismantle the Russian spy 'network ' in the UK by expelling 23 embassy officials, the largest number of diplomatic expulsions since the Cold War, following the attack in Salisbury.

Russia's Embassy in the UK hit back at May with a tweet referencing the expelled officials, demonstrating their lack of concern and fearlessness.

3. This bizarre, menacing message for Theresa May.

May accused Russia of trying to "weaponise information", condemning its alleged meddling in elections and cyber espionage campaign in November 2017.

In one of her strongest speeches on Russia at that point, she said the UK and its allies would do "what is necessary to protect ourselves". Addressing Moscow directly, she said:

We know what you are doing. And you will not succeed.

The Russian Foreign Ministry hit back on Twitter, posting a picture of May drinking wine and saying: "We know what YOU are doing as well."

4. This meme sarcastically toasting conspiratorially-minded Russia critics.

Using a meme of Leonardo DiCaprio in The Great Gatsby, the Russian Embassy mocked two of the most outspoken, far-out Russia critics on Twitter, Louise Mensch and Scott Dworkin.

5. This sceptical response to widespread stories of Russian hacking and election interference in the US.

Just a few weeks into the presidency of Donald Trump, Russia's Embassy in the UK mocked the allegations of Russian hacking in the presidential election in 2016.

6. This questionable meme used to taunt Theresa May.

Responding to reports that the May was advising the US administration against a warmer relationship with Russia in January 2017, the Russia's UK embassy shared a crude cartoon frog named 'Pepe' that has become an unlikely poster child for far-right intolerance and hatred.

A few days later, the embassy tweeted a photograph of a frog, apparently in response to the backlash.

7. This snide response to President Barack Obama expelling 35 Russian diplomats from the US.

A tweet in December 2016, accompanied with a duck overlaid with text reading 'LAME', claimed that everybody, including Americans, will be glad to see the end of Obama's administration.

Obama had issued new sanctions against Russia in retaliation for alleged cyberattacks designed to interfere with the US election.

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