The headquarters of Russia’s so-called “troll factory” — home to the hackers at the center of Vladimir Putin’s information wars — was set ablaze in St. Petersburg on Sunday night, according to The Moscow Times.
> An investigation revealed last year that the secretive troll factory had rebranded itself as a media conglomerate with 16 news websites generating more than 30 million pageviews every month. Its operational hub, a website called FAN (Federal News Agency), is based a stone’s throw from the troll farm’s original location in northern St. Petersburg.
> The Fontanka.ru news website cited police as saying that an unknown suspect broke the agency’s ground-floor window and threw a Molotov cocktail inside at around 3 a.m. on Tuesday.
FAN released surveillance video showing flames erupting from one of the workstations and a female worker hurriedly exiting the office.
> “I believe this is tied to FAN’s activities,” its chief editor Yevgeny Zubarev said. “We’re most often attacked online, but these types of attacks have already taken place offline.”
> FAN said its office came under another arson attack on the eve of the 2018 presidential elections in March.
> The troll farm is believed to be run by billionaire restaurateur Yevgeny Prigozhin, known as President Vladimir Putin’s “cook.” A U.S. special counsel indicted Prigozhin and 12 other Russians this year on charges of defrauding the U.S. government by interfering with its political process.