(Washington Post) Facebook announced Wednesday that it had removed three networks of accounts it says are associated with Russian oligarch Yevgeniy Prigozhin, the Kremlin-linked businessman U.S. authorities charged with interfering in the 2016 presidential election.
The networks — which included more than 170 Facebook accounts, pages and groups, as well as Instagram accounts, with nearly 1 million followers overall — targeted eight African nations with messages intended to bolster Russia’s political and commercial priorities. Some of the images featured Russian President Vladimir Putin alongside African leaders. […]
Kimberly Marten, chair of the political science department at Barnard College and an expert on international security, cautioned against seeing the operations in Africa as pilot projects for interference in Western democracies. The best evidence dates the Wagner Group’s presence on the continent to 2018, she said, meaning that its online activities may be inspired by Russia’s success in interfering in U.S. and European elections, rather than jumping-off points for operations elsewhere.
“When we look at what Prigozhin is doing — and presumably he’s doing it under Putin’s guidance — he’s throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks,” Marten said. “They’ve been doing so much in both the U.S. and Europe that they don’t need to start in Africa to have an impact there. It’s more likely they’re taking techniques that have worked and seeing if they work in Africa.” […]
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