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Keyboard army posts restaurant reviews detailing Russian actions in Ukraine to evade censors


The numerous reviews prompted Moscow’s mayor Sergei Sobyanin to say foreign online users were mounting a ‘psychological information attack’

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Rather than commenting on the food and service at Russian restaurants and cafes, some users have begun posting online reviews detailing Russian actions in Ukraine to try to smuggle information past the tight control of state media.

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Russia’s communications regulator has accused ten local media outlets of falsely depicting what Russia calls a special operation to demilitarize Ukraine.

Among those sent warning letters were Echo Moskvy, a popular radio station, and Novaya Gazeta, a newspaper critical of the government whose editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov was awarded a Nobel Peace prize last year.
Roskomnadzor, the regulator, ordered the media to delete the offending information or face restricted access to their websites and media resources.

But online comments on platforms such as Google Maps and Afisha.ru, a widely used lifestyle and entertainment website in Russia, are harder to contain — especially as internet users turn to online tools such as VPNs to circumvent restrictions on social media.

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The identity of the authors behind the online comments could not be verified.

The numerous reviews prompted Moscow’s mayor Sergei Sobyanin to say foreign online users were mounting a “psychological information attack,” saying most of the information was coming from bots.

Psychological information attack

“Please do not fall for the calls of provocateurs. They are aimed at undermining the governance of the city and creating an atmosphere of chaos,” he said. “They are trying to divide us.”

A Twitter account associated with international hacking collective Anonymous, which has announced plans to take aim at Russia’s online presence, has urged people to write reviews on Google Maps about what is happening in Ukraine.

Online users in Russia also recommended a strategy of posting pictures of Ukraine in reviews for popular eateries.

“In the text, write about the war and attach a photo of destroyed houses, casualties and people in bomb shelters,” one Instagram user wrote.



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