After Andrea Noel is attacked by a stranger in Mexico City, she just wants to figure out who the guy was. Investigating this question drops her right into the middle of one of Mexico’s biggest conspiracies.
Weeks after Donald Trump was elected president, Russia-backed online “trolls” flooded social media to try to block Mitt Romney from securing a top job in the incoming administration, a Wall Street Journal analysis shows.
The operatives called the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, then a contender for secretary of state, a “two headed snake” and a “globalist puppet,” promoted a rally outside Trump Tower and spread a petition to block Mr. Romney’s appointment to the top diplomatic job, according to a review of now-deleted social-media posts.
The revelation comes alongside a new report, in the New Yorker, that alleges the Kremlin pressured then-President Elect Trump to consider a candidate more favorable to Russian interests. Mr. Trump ultimately appointed former Exxon Mobil Corp. chief Rex Tillerson, who has said he has a “very close relationship with” Russian President Vladimir Putin, to lead the department.
.. One group, “Being Patriotic,” which earlier purchased pro-Trump advertisements on Facebook, encouraged people to gather outside Trump Tower in New York City and protest Mr. Romney’s possible nomination, according to an event listing linked to the group.
.. Several of the most prominent Russian-linked Twitter accounts urged people to sign a petition on the website change.org. “Romney is everything we voted against when we voted Trump to #DrainTheSwamp! Sign the petition & RT #NeverRomney,”
.. Intelligence experts cautioned that the trolls’ messages aren’t proof of the Kremlin’s preference.
“In many cases the underlying objective is to create confusion and conflict,”
.. “I would expect the trolls to create uncertainty around whomever is the front runner.”
Blacktavists, a Russian Facebook account modified a real news story about a Racism Hoax sign and a modified real student newspaper.
They count on the fact that people will take the image at face value and not do lateral contextual searches.
He earned the slightly mocking nickname of “Putin’s cook.”
Despite his humble, troubled youth, Mr. Prigozhin became one of Russia’s richest men, joining a charmed circle whose members often share one particular attribute: their proximity to President Vladimir V. Putin.
.. According to the indictment, Mr. Prigozhin, 56, controlled the entity that financed the troll factory, known as the Internet Research Agency, which waged “information warfare against the United States” by creating fictitious social-media personas, spreading falsehoods and promoting messages supportive of Donald J. Trump and critical of Hillary Clinton. He has denied involvement.
.. he has emerged as Mr. Putin’s go-to oligarch for that and a variety of sensitive and often-unsavory missions, like recruiting contract soldiers to fight in Ukraine and Syria.
.. “He is not afraid of dirty tasks,”
.. “He can fulfill any task for Putin, ranging from fighting the opposition to sending mercenaries to Syria,” she said. “He serves certain interests in certain spheres, and Putin trusts him.”
.. the Kremlin endorsed projects like the troll farm without directly organizing them.
“This is done by somebody who receives large-scale government contracts,” he said. “The fact that he gets these contracts is a hidden way to pay for his services.”
.. When the troll factory was formed in 2013, its basic task was to flood social media with articles and comments that painted Russia under Mr. Putin as stable and comfortable compared to the chaotic, morally corrupt West. The trolls soon branched into overseas operations focused on Russian adversaries like Ukraine and the United States.
.. limited details about his personal life have emerged, mostly through the Instagram accounts of his two grown children.
One picture featured his son, Pavel, walking naked on the deck of the 115-foot family yacht. Other pictures showed a private jet and a vintage powder blue Lincoln Continental, said to be Mr. Prigozhin’s favorite car.
.. sweeping view from his wooded compound in Gelendzhik, the resort town on the Black Sea.
.. pier for the yacht, was built in an ostensibly protected forest much beloved by Mr. Putin and his cronies
.. In exchange for providing soldiers to protect Syria’s oil fields, companies linked to Mr. Prigozhin were awarded a percentage of the oil revenue
.. The only clues are the companies’ overlapping ties, including the same managers, shared telephone numbers or IP addresses.