Website review

Keyboard Army uses restaurant reviews to attack Russian state media

March 2 (Reuters) – Rather than comment on the food and service in Russian restaurants and cafes, some users have started posting reviews online detailing Russian actions in Ukraine in an attempt to smuggle information beyond scrutiny strict state media.

Russia’s communications regulator has accused 10 local media of falsely portraying what Russia calls a special operation to demilitarize Ukraine. On Tuesday, Russia pulled radio station Ekho Moskvy over its coverage of the invasion. Read more

But online reviews on platforms such as Google Maps and Afisha.ru, a lifestyle and entertainment website widely used in Russia, are harder to contain, especially as people turn to tools online such as VPNs to bypass social media restrictions. Read more

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In a review of one of Moscow’s most popular seafood restaurants on Afisha.ru, one user wrote: “The deployment of troops to Ukraine is a war, not a special operation. The Russian army is killing people children and civilians!!!!”

Another wrote: “The place was nice! However, Putin spoiled our mood by invading Ukraine. Stand up against your dictator, stop killing innocent people! Your government is lying to you.

Russia rejects the term invasion, saying its actions are not aimed at occupying territory but at destroying Ukraine’s military capabilities and capturing what it sees as dangerous nationalists.

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

The widespread criticism prompted Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin to say that foreign online users were mounting a “psychological information attack”, claiming that most of the information came from bots.

“Please don’t fall for the calls of the provocateurs. They aim to undermine the governance of the city and create 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 target 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 photos of Ukraine in reviews of popular restaurants.

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

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Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; Reuters additional reporting in Moscow; Editing by Alison Williams

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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