Russian Officials Issue Sinister Rebuke To Theresa May Over Accusations Of Moscow Meddling In Elections

Russian President Vladimir Putin smiles during a press conference.

  • Russia uses its official government Twitter accounts to rebuke its critics and troll Western leaders.

  • On Tuesday, Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted a satirical response to UK Prime Minister Theresa May's criticism of Moscow's interference in elections.

  • Kremlin trolling on Twitter dates back years.

During the 2016 election, Russian-linked bots and trolls on social media attempted to inflame relations among Americans by spreading fake news and highlighting vulnerable racial and political divisions. They bought ads on Twitter and shared posts on Facebook, concealing their identities while pretending to be real Americans.

But the Kremlin has another, more conspicuous way of spreading propaganda and trolling the West that doesn't normally get as much attention.

In the last few years, Russia has used official government Twitter accounts to undermine the West and hit back against criticism, often with tantalizing and meme-filled rhetoric. The Twitter accounts of Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and its Embassy in the UK, both of which tweet in English, have been particularly active.

On Tuesday for example, after UK Prime Minister Theresa May slammed Russia for planting fake stories and photo-shopping images on social media "in an attempt to sow discord in the West," Russia's MFA tweeted a satirical response.

MFA Russia/Twitter

This was one of several examples of official Russian government tweets aimed at sparking controversy among Moscow's adversaries.

In a report published in November 2017, the watchdog group Freedom House noted that in few places is "the hypocritical link between state propaganda and legal restrictions on the media stronger than in Russia." This gives Russia monopoly over the flow of information within its borders. Increasingly, the report says, Russia has used similar information manipulation tactics abroad.

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