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Former 'Kremlin Troll' Awarded $0.01 in Victory Over 'Propaganda Factory'

The Russian freelance journalist was reportedly being paid a monthly salary of 40,000 to 50,000 roubles ($750) to praise Russian President Vladimir Putin on website comment pages.
August 18, 2015, 4:40pm
Photo by Dmitry Lovetsky/AP

A Russian employment case has been the key to exposing an organization that was paying employees to post internet comments that were complimentary towards Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It was resolved on Tuesday, when an ex-employee won the case and she was awarded damages of one ruble or $0.01.

Lyudmila Savchuk worked for the St Petersburg-based Agency for Internet Studies, and was awarded the agreed symbolic damages after she sued them for bad employment conditions, including non-payment of wages and failing to provide workers with contracts. The decision was made on Tuesday by the Petrogradsky district court.

Savchuk and her hundreds of colleagues were reportedly being paid a monthly salary of 40,000 to 50,000 rubles ($750). For this, they were charged with manning several social media accounts each, which they used to praise Putin on website comment pages and post doctored images.

Related: Meet the Colonel in Charge of Countering Russian Propaganda in Lithuania

Savchuk left the job in March, two months after she started. She had already begun anonymously denouncing the organization in the media as a "propaganda factory." The 34-year-old is a freelance journalist, and claimed that she had taken the job in an attempt to go undercover and expose the trolling that was going on there.

Following the organization's announcement that they were willing to settle in June, Savchuk's lawyer, Ivan Pavlov, said that result was "unexpected."

"I suppose the defendant considers it a lesser evil to recognise the lawsuit and pay compensation," he said.

Meanwhile, Savchuk said she was very happy with the "victory," according to an AFP report. "I achieved my aim, which was to bring the internet trolls out of the shade."

Related: This Ex-KGB Agent Lived in a Church for Six Years to Avoid Deportation From Canada