Wikipedia entry on Nashi:
Nashi’s close ties with the Kremlin have been emphasised by Vladislav Surkov (Deputy Presidential Chief of Staff during 1999-2011), who has met the movement’s activists on numerous occasions, delivering speeches and holding private talks. It has been speculated that the Kremlin’s primary goal was to create a paramilitary force to harass and attack Vladimir Putin’s critics as “enemies of the State”.
“Beyond the indisputable fact of its existence, few details are known of the Russian government’s program to manipulate Internet opinion. It seems to have evolved in some way from the Nashi, a Kremlin-funded anti-fascist youth group that was founded in 2007 and folded in 2012. Hackers broke into the email account of a Nashi spokesperson in 2012 and discovered that the group had paid out hundreds of thousands of pounds to a network of bloggers, journalists, and freelance commenters to provide flattering coverage of Vladimir Putin and criticize his opponents. A year later, Russian journalists evidently stumbled across another arm of the program while investigating a St. Petersburg company called the Internet Research Agency.”
Links to more information in source article are broken. ^
- More detailed article from February 2012, The Guardian about Nashi leaks.
Wikipedia page on Web brigades:
“In January 2012, a hacktivist group calling itself the Russian arm of Anonymous published a massive collection of email allegedly belonging to former and present leaders of the pro-Kremlin youth organization Nashi (including a number of government officials). Journalists who investigated the leaked information found that the pro-Kremlin movement had engaged in a range of activities including paying commentators to post content and hijacking blog ratings in the fall of 2011. The e-mails indicated that members of the “brigades” were paid 85 rubles (about 3 US dollars) or more per comment, depending on whether the comment received replies. Some were paid as much as 600,000 roubles (about US $21,000) for leaving hundreds of comments on negative press articles on the internet, and were presented with iPads. A number of high-profile bloggers were also mentioned as being paid for promoting Nashi and government activities. The Federal Youth Agency, whose head (and the former leader of Nashi) Vasily Yakemenko was the highest-ranking individual targeted by the leaks, refused to comment on authenticity of the e-mails.”
- Guardian opinion piece from May 2014 about brigading of comments section on Ukraine-related articles.
“In fairness there is no conclusive evidence about who is behind the trolling, although Guardian moderators, who deal with 40,000 comments a day, believe there is an orchestrated campaign. Harding, who is inured to the abuse, would simply like better systems to deal with it, as would the moderation and community teams.
A senior moderator said: “We can look at the suspicious tone of certain users, combined with the date they signed up, the time they post and the subjects they post on. Zealous pro-separatist comments in broken English claiming to be from western counties are very common, and there’s a list of tropes we’ve learnt to look out for.”