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Marat Burkkhard, 40, another ex-employee of the troll factory who has gone public, said in an interview that “America and Obama was one of the top themes that we wrote about every day”.

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The story of her time as a troll is a rare and piercing insight into Russia’s attempts to skew the truth and flood the internet with political innuendo.

She worked from January 2 to March 11 at the building of Internet Research at 55 Savushkina Street in St Petersburg, which insiders say is still operating as a “troll factory”.

She was put in the so-called Special Projects department using the Live Journal blogging platform, where, she says, “people pretending to be individual bloggers– a fortune teller, a soldier, a Ukrainian man – had to, between posts about daily life or interesting facts, insert political reflections”.

“I was told on the first day that we were working for the good of the motherland, that we were supporting the authorities,” she explained in an interview at a friend’s apartment in the city’s Pushkin district.

On March 3, she wrote a post called, “Bad premonitions: Why I’m worried about my sister living in Europe”.

The sister, she says, told her from her home in Germany that “thousands of farmers have gone bankrupt in the EU because of sanctions” on Russia and “unemployment is thriving”.

Then the operators would start to receive “technical assignments” – written descriptions of themes they should raise in their blogs and comments, with key words to be included.

The bloggers are kept under tight control – their email is subject to checks and their workplace monitored by CCTV.

All along, however, Ms Savchuk was copying documents and making clandestine video footage about the “factory”, gathering evidence in the manner of a Cold War spy. “I was really inspired by detective novels and Sherlock Holmes played by Benedict Cumberbatch,” she told the Sunday Telegraph in an interview last week.


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