Information Warfare · Russia

Investigation of RBC: how a “media factory” grew out of the “troll factory”

Photo: Denis Vyshinsky / TASS Factory Overcoat

The Moscow Times did a version of this story, Russia’s Infamous ‘Troll Factory’ Is Now Posing as a Media Empire.

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In St. Petersburg, a media holding with an audience of more than 36 million people a month appeared. At first the editors lived at the scandalously known “troll factory”, the organizations have common leaders and, probably, one investor – the structures of the restaurateur Eugene Prigozhin

St. Petersburg, July 5, 2016. In the Kuybyshevskiy District Court, a stone’s throw from Nevsky Prospekt, a lawsuit against Yandex from businessman Yevgeny Prigogine, the owner of the Concord group, which serves iconic events with the participation of President Vladimir Putin, is being considered. Using the norms of the Law On Oblivion, a Petersburg businessman requires the search engine to remove 22 references to articles devoted to his business – explicit and shadow. At the door of the hall, reported, crowded “men in civilian clothes” and correspondents of the “Federal News Agency” ( FAN ): they all jerked to the benches, as soon as the court secretary opened the door. Journalists of other media were not allowed to enter the hall, only the correspondent of the local “Kommersant” could get inside.

On the eve of the meeting, a man named Yevgeny Zubarev – also called the director of the FAN – left a message in a working chat room of journalists of this agency in Skype. As follows from the screenshot of the correspondence (available to RBC), “all the corrals present in St. Petersburg” must come to court half an hour before the start of the trial. “[It is necessary] to reduce the number of colleagues entering the hall. The task is to prevent the dissemination of information about the titles of articles, the references to which the plaintiff wants to remove, “judging from the screenshot, Zubarev demanded.

Who were those mysterious “men in civilian clothes”, the agency’s journalists did not know, but assumed – employees from the office of Prigogine, recalls a former correspondent of the FAN. In a conversation with RBC magazine, Zubarev said that at that court session there was only one reporter from the agency and two from FAN-TV, and refused to comment on the “leakage allegedly from the chat rooms.” The avatar from the screenshot coincides with the photo of Zubarev’s Skype account registered to his personal mail.

The special operation was only partially successful: the Kommersant journalist was able to enter the courtroom and write the news, and the names of the articles that Prigogine wanted to remove from the search engine were already known at previous meetings. For example, several “disagreeable” materials related to the possible participation of the restaurateur in financing the so-called “troll factory” – a St. Petersburg organization whose employees allegedly should write comments on the blogs in defense of the current government, criticize the opposition, and propagate patriotic values.

The FAN and some of its related portals have been associated with the “troll factory” since its inception: the first editorial offices were located at 55 Savushkin Street in St. Petersburg – the media building was nicknamed the “troll lair”. Now in the media group, where the largest – FAN, includes at least 16 online information resources, nine of which are officially registered by Roskomnadzor as the media, RBC magazine estimated (for more details, see infographics).

The main legal structure of a group of related sites is not there. But this does not prevent the leadership of the organization, when meeting with representatives of the federal media, use the word “holding”, told RBC magazine a participant of one such meeting. Already, “non-core” areas (accounting, IT, etc.) are common to all editions, in the group they are really thinking about the need for “legal beauty,” a source familiar with the work of the “media factory” said.

For a long time, the grounds of this peculiar “patriotic holding” remained on the sidelines of the media space. In December 2015, the aggregate audience of the group’s websites hardly exceeded 5.5 million users (Alexa Rank’s archival statistics), by the middle of February 2017, about 33 million visited the same portals. Liveinternet counters show more importance – over 36 million people, from 11 million of them are FAN readers. Crossing the audience of portals within the group can not be seen – the statistics are closed.

Web sites of the “media factory” unanimously bypass the largest Russian information publications on the Internet: about 33 million people visited the site of Komsomolskaya Pravda at the same time, RIA Novosti about 28 million (Liveinternet data). And the average monthly audience of the federal network of urban Internet portals Regional Network (part of the group of companies Hearst Shkulev) – 25 million unique users, indicated on the official website.

How are the media, once associated with the “lair of trolls,” managed to bypass the recognized players of the media market? And how successful are they in getting rid of the “factory” past?

Factory Overcoat

In 2015, American journalist Adrian Chen came to St. Petersburg to collect material for the New York Times Magazine – this article laconically entitled The Agency (“Agency”), later glorified Savushkin, 55 as a “troll factory” for the whole world. In the northern capital, Chen met with Katarina Aistova, who allegedly had an affair with the Agency for Internet Research (one of the legal hypostases of the “troll factory”). She came with a man of athletic build, introducing him as his brother.

After the meeting, the American journalist went to the office center on the street. Savushkina, 55. In the tenant list, Chen then found FAN, called the internal number. Zubarev went down to the journalist and invited him into his office: his colleagues graciously chatted, while the head of the newspaper denied any connection with the “troll factory”, and himself and the agency called “victims of black PR” .

The day after Chen’s departure from Russia, FAN published a note stating that an American journalist had met at St. Petersburg’s cafe with the well-known ultra-rightist activist Alexei Maksimov (“The Fly”) – it was he who, as it turned out, came to meet with Aistovo in the guise of her Brother. The publication was accompanied by pictures taken in a cafe hidden camera.


The site of the FAN was registered in May 2014, the editorial staff started working about a month later, one of the editors of the magazine told RBC magazine. To launch a new media, professional journalists were invited. The first editor-in-chief of the agency was Vladislav Kraev, former top manager of the regional office of RIA Novosti, who left the patriotic holding in 2015, and Zubarev, the former editor of Rosbalt, the nominee of the main prize of the St. Petersburg journalistic community Golden Pen “.

If the impersonal “troll factory” always existed “behind the scenes” and hid under various legal masks like Glavset, Internet Research Agency or Teka, the FAN immediately took the course to work “openly”. At the end of 2014, the agency received a certificate from Roskomnadzor. The founder of the media was the same legal entity, while three more websites were registered in the register of Roskomnadzor: Economy of Today , Federal Agency of Accidents and Free Time. As the actual location of the editorial office, one address was indicated in the certificates – Savushkina, 55 (archival licenses are stored on

Zubarev’s arrest on Savushkin, 55, as Chen once did, will not work anymore – in 2015, the FAN moved from the famous building of the American journalist. The reasons for the move to the team were then not explained, but all without words understood that the neighborhood with the “trolls” worked for the editorial offices “in negative,” says the former editor of the agency. Although the organizations were sitting on different floors and intersecting only in the smoking room, the canteen and the bookkeeping department, two former employees of the editorial staff recalled.

To transport computers did not have to: the editorial offices of the media were rented an office in the business center “Ilich” on the street. Beloostrovskaya, 8 – a few kilometers from the “troll factory”. In “Ilyich”, in addition to the FAN, now work ” Politics today “, “Today’s Economy” and ” People’s News .” The site of Politika Today is redirected from the portal of the Federal Agency of Accidents (FAP,, whose support stopped in December 2016: in English slang, the word fap is used in the meaning of “masturbation”, so no matter how hard the editors , The search engines stubbornly threw out the news of the FAP from the issuance, taking for a pornographic site, Zubarev laughs.

RBC correspondent was met by the director of the agency, not in his private office, but in a small newsroom, which seemed to have been specifically released for interviews: personal belongings of correspondents were on computer desks; a young man glanced into the room while he saw the chief, and frightenedly slammed the door. Talking about the FAN, Zubarev was clearly proud of the achievement of record readability. But he answered sharp questions, looking away. “Factory of trolls”? With it, FAN is not connected at all. ” “Why were you sitting on Savushkin? It was cheap and convenient there. ”

After the part of the editorial moved to the new office, a new portion of information portals for the “patriotic holding” began to grow in the “troll factory”. At the end of 2015, Savushkin received at least five resources – Word and Business, Politpazl, Infoorektor, PolitExpert, and Newinform, with a total audience of almost 9 million people.

In February 2017, InfoRector , PolitExpert, and Newinform received media reports from Roskomnadzor, the founder of Novinfo LLC, St. Petersburg. The only owner of the firm is a certain Yuri Krasnov. When the correspondent of the magazine RBC called him, introducing himself as an employee of the supervisory authority, he confirmed that in fact three editions of Novinfo sit on Savushkin.

Communication with other media portals indirectly, but can be traced: the administrator of the VKontakte group of the portal “Word and Business” communicated with a correspondent of RBC magazine from an IP address that at least until the summer of 2016 was leased by Glavset LLC (one of the legal entities “Trolls”). From the same IP, two employees of the “Infooreactor” wrote about RBC. And the head of the “Politpazl” Vladimir Mezentsev about a year ago represented in the Instagram “Word and Business” as “his child”, the post was accompanied by the words “<…> We came. Gloomy from the fact that our Russia was deported. ”

Roskomnadzor’s testimonies and the course taken for civilized work do not allow the “patriotic holding company” to completely get rid of the “factory” past. None of the 16 portals indicate on their website the address where the editorial office is actually located. For example, prior to the beginning of March, Narodniye Novosti sent all potential guests to an apartment building on the outskirts of St. Petersburg: the editor of Timofei Shabarshin did not answer the question of RBC magazine about whether the portal complicates communication with the outside world, but soon The address on the site was corrected at Krasnogvardeysky Lane, 23 – the building next to the “Ilyich”. There is also the editorial office of the FAN, judging by the information on the portal (as of March 10).

In the “Ilyich” editorial offices of the “media factory” rent two floors – about 1 thousand square meters. M, with a separate entrance from the street. Not every security guard of the business center knows where the FAN or friendly editorial offices are, but there are no name plates. As with the addresses, the “patriotic holding” management system is built according to the best shadow standards.


In the twilight, the coffee-red building “Ilyich” resembles a typical Scandinavian business center: in the huge, almost panoramic windows of the building lamps are burning, curtains are open. Dirty and unsightly Beloostrovskaya is flooded with office lights, from the street you can observe the life of tenants. Windows, behind which FAN works, are tightly covered with milky shutters. Only leaning against the glass, you can see on the first floor through the slits a small newsroom, a calendar with Vladimir Putin on the wall and computers with the numbered inventory numbers.

RBC correspondents could not walk through the office: from what they could see from the inside – the same office desks with computers, staffed by employees aged 25-30 years. The media group is managed by several managers, but only Zubarev is officially represented on the FAN website. Editorial management takes place geographically. His manager is in “Ilyich”, where a team of about 100 people from the five media portals of the holding sits. Editorial offices in Savushkin, where about 125-150 employees work at least six sites, are their manager.

The 29-year-old Aleksei Nikiforov is in charge of the “hub” in Beloostrovskaya. Prior to joining the “media factory” in early 2016, he headed a small company “Spetsstroyproekt”, which, for example, was engaged in the manufacture of metal structures for the poultry plant “Bolshevik” from the Leningrad region. “I’m tired of building, in this sphere there are fewer means, but more words and promises. I wanted something new, saw an announcement on HeadHunter and responded, “Nikiforov explains the change of profession to the correspondent of RBC magazine. He does not have public accounts in social networks, and in the photo from the editorial office, which his assistant put to Instagram, Nikiforov covers his face with his hand.

Now he officially represents the holding at business negotiations, although Zubarev is the general director of OOO Federal News Agency in the Unified State Register of Legal Entities. The latter rejects the administrative work: in a conversation with the RBC magazine, he repeatedly stressed that he is responsible only for content, and all business issues – on his younger colleague.

The editorial staff working for Savushkin is run by Oleg Vasiliev, a source familiar with the activities of the “patriotic holding company” told RBC magazine. Unlike Nikiforov, Vasilyev supposedly worked at the “troll factory” before the media sphere: Marat Mindyarov, an ex-employee of Internet Research LLC, in 2015, in an interview with Novaya Gazeta, called Vasilyeva one of the top managers of the organization.

The same Vasiliev allegedly asked the ex-employee of the “troll factory” Olga Maltseva not to bring to the public space the story of her dismissal without paying a pregnancy allowance, the BBC claimed (the agency has a record of the conversation). Maltseva did not agree to this proposal and sued, but lost in February 2017, it follows from the case file. In a conversation with Novaya Gazeta, she recalled that she was fined for being late and laughing at the workplace. The source of RBC magazine, familiar with the work on Savushkin, confirms that Vasilyev often takes “absurd administrative decisions”. It was not possible to communicate with Vasiliev: like Nikiforov, he obviously avoided unnecessary contacts-the phone he used to communicate during the conflict with Maltsev was no longer in use.

However, Nikiforova and Vasilyeva can hardly be called the main curators of the “media factory” – rather, the performers. A former employee of one of the group’s media, recalls that “key issues had to be solved with [Mikhail] Burchik.” Part of the employees of the “patriotic holding”, to whom RBC magazine asked to talk or comment on a fact, reported this to a certain Mikhail Leonidovich – the same patronymic in Burchik.

The 30-year-old Burchik developed his own companies and GaGaDo, which developed games and applications for both social networks and mobile platforms, wrote in 2010 the magazine “The Secret of the Firm.” Also, the St. Petersburg IT-entrepreneur published newspapers for the municipal districts “Smolninsky” and “Dvortsovy” (data of the site of state procurement). The magazine RBC Burchik said that he does not work in the media holding, but “advises him” as an expert in the promotion and development of Internet projects. Burchik refused to tell the details of the cooperation – as well as to answer other questions.

In 2014, the hacker group “Humpty Dumpty” published an array of letters exchanged between the leaders of the “troll factory” (the authenticity of the correspondence was confirmed by the sources of “”). In one of the files, Burchik was designated as the “executive director” of the “Internet Research Agency”. His relationship with Savushkin, 55 in an interview with Chen, the businessman denied. As indicated in the database “SPARK-Interfax”, Burchik owns the company “Commercial News Agency” and heads it: the firm with revenues of about 8.5 million rubles. (For 2015) was established in late 2013, the main type of activity – the work of news agencies. What exactly does the company do, it was not possible to find out the journal of RBC.

As the “media factory” expanded, St. Petersburg journalists from local media poured into it. Not all of them shared the ideological agenda of the “patriotic holding,” says a former FAN employee, but there was no other work. In addition, despite the “limited financial resources”, salaries in the media group for a number of positions by local standards are higher than the average.

To each according to his work

“Informationally accompany the activities of state bodies, [obscene word]”, as the editor-in-chief of one of the portals of the holding, previously working in the St. Petersburg office of the federal newspaper, describes in his Twitter activity. His colleague at the Media Group proudly demonstrates Instagram in a three-year visa to the US and wrote on Facebook about the love of Los Angeles: the working time of its publication publishes the translated article entitled “True Lies: How Obama and his loyal aides fool the American people.”

Average salary specified in the vacancy for the post of St. Petersburg media correspondents and editors, is 43 thousand. Rub., Told the magazine RBC representative of HeadHunter. FAN only lower-level employees – Content manager – is willing to pay 45 thousand rubles.. Their duty – rewrites 20-30 notes per day. Salaries are letting editors who need dial up and prepare the experts, by definition Nikiforov, “exclusive content” – 3-7 day – are about 55 thousand rubles.. A little more than 60 thousand. Rub., Obtained the chief editors. In one FAN only in this position five people work: they are looking for themes and fix bugs in subordinate texts, Zubarev said.

Interlocutor RBC magazine, who has worked in several different editions of the holding, the amount of calls sounded “close to real”. “In FAN now people leave because of salary” – recognizes the chief editor of a major newspaper in St. Petersburg. Editorial work vbeluyu claim Nikiforov and Zubarev, salary project – in the bank “St. Petersburg”. It happened in the summer of 2016, said the source of RBC magazine is familiar with the management of the media group. “And earlier, and now we have all been within the law” – insists Zubarev.

Individuals receive a “bonus” in the form of its own media: Holding still is not a single legal entity. For example, Ltd. “The federal news agency” got former employee “” and the ex-chief editor of the “People’s News” Anna Botnevoy, which went from all structures of the group in August 2016. She did not answer the question of RBC magazine, why still is listed in the ownership FAN, referring to the previously signed documents on the non-disclosure.

The wife of the chief editor of FAN and part-time chief editor of the portal Tatyana Stepanova owns Ltd. “The People’s News”, and the owner of “Economy Today” is listed Elena Vasilieva (data “SPARK-Interfax”), full namesake chief editor of the same name. Vasiliev and Stepanov did not respond to questions about the RBC magazine, how they suddenly found themselves the owners of the media business. “It’s not a crime,” – he said Zubarev asked about the practice of recording assets by employees.

The content of the media holding with the editors-owners costing up to 15 million rubles. per month.This amount includes the cost of rent in the “Ilyich”, leading figures Nikiforov. RBC magazine source close to the leadership of the group, voiced by a large amount – 20-22 million rubles. monthly. Thus, the work of “Factory Media” at the authorized strength of 225-250 people is from 180 to 264 million rubles. in year.

The second figure is closer to reality, according to the costs of the St. Petersburg JSC “AZHUR-Media” (the largest asset – “to”). In 2015, the group spent on the maintenance of 80 staff and office costs 113 million rubles., Should be of the “SPARK-Interfax”. In 2016 spending grew slightly – to 120 million rubles, the source said one of the local publications, familiar with the work of “Openwork-Media.”.

However, in the “patriotic Holding” is not guided by the local media, apart from their competitors. “We are working on the federal agenda. Our goal – to be a “RIA Novosti” , TASS , RBC or the RT “, – said Nikiforov. Of the 16 resources “media factory” local agenda is now “closed” only “Neva news.” Several portals – “Politics Today”, “PolitEkspert”, “Word and Deed”, “Politpazl”, “Journalistic Truth” – illuminate the geopolitical conflict, Russia and the West, and the sites’ news agency of Kharkov “,” KievSMI “- events in Ukraine. “The economy today,” the holding is positioned as a business edition, and “PolitRossiya” does not shy away from the news like “Nastya Zadorozhnaya posted photos without underwear.” However FAN felt exclusive agenda.

In the line of fire

July 2016-th, the south-eastern province of Hakkari in Turkey. Kurdish People’s Protection Units and regular Turkish army are fierce battles. In the distance – mountain Kurds camp: it is on a narrow mountain ridge in the rock shelves, spend the night in sleeping bags correspondents FAN Kirill Romanovsky and Vyacheslav Druzhinin. One night there was a fire: Romanovsky sharply jumped up and lay at his feet backpack flew down from the cliff. “Stay was no way we were removed from the place is packed as fast as possible” – he says in a conversation with Romanovsky RBC magazine. On that day, a cliff with a backpack flew medicines and germosumka with cash NC, as well as the side attached tripod.

The first war correspondents FAN went to Syria in 2015, before the start of operations of Russian VKS. The model works in hot spots was previously run-Ukraine: media holding full-scale portals covered the fighting on the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republic, including by its own correspondents. In 2015, a reporter “Neva News» Andrei Zaharchuk even been detained in Nikolaev SBU, but it could be included in the prisoner exchange program and returned to St. Petersburg.

Photo: AFP / East news

In Syria FANovtsy work in shifts – teams of two persons. The trip lasts about one and a half or two months, and then a month and a half involve journalists in Russia, Romanovsky said. He studied at the University of Berlin, worked as a reporter of the belligerent Donbas for FAN and founded the agency portal “journalistic truth”. Prior to 2016 the military theme worked out three pairs of journalists, now there are two. The cost of a month’s stay correspondents in a combat zone is $ 1.5 thousand., Excluding the cost of the trip, Romanovsky said. One trip to Syria brings journalist 75-150 thousand. Rub., Told the magazine RBC source familiar with the management of the holding.

Since the beginning of the lighting of the Syrian events voenkory FAN received accreditation through the local Ministry of Information and the Ministry of Defence. After the Russian military, journalists continued to work through the Syrian authorities: according to Romanovsky, from the press service of the Russian Defense Ministry in contact only “occasionally”. “Those who receive accreditation Hmeymime (FSI Russian airbase in Syria -. RBC ) in the Russian military, in principle, do not show anything. They are under the clock supervision of our contingent and to remove something worthy simply will not work “, – he said in February 2017 in an interview with the well-known military blogger Anatoly Nesmiyanu (El Murid) former voenkor FAN Dmitry Larks. Larks himself refused to discuss his work with RBC in Syria.

Of all the Russian media working at the hottest point of the planet, FAN is really the least contact with the command of the Russian armed forces, recognizes Romanovsky. However, for such independence is necessary to pay: to Syria edition correspondents get their own, rather than transport the Ministry of Defence. First – to Beirut, the Lebanese capital, then by bus or taxi to Damascus.

In the area of fighting brigade agency accompanies the interpreter and conductor – usually one and the same person. In particular, such services are reporters FAN has retired Syrian General Sami Shiha, received military training in the Soviet Union, and who knows the Russian language, he told RBC voenkor familiar with the working methods of the agency in Syria. Military background Shih helps journalists as civil specialist would be turned at the first checkpoint, according to the interlocutor of RBC magazine. Shih speaks to reporters FAN, not only in theater but also, for example, commented on their photos to Facebook. Those in response to call him “dear general.”

The independence of the Russian military department allows voenkoram FAN ahead of colleagues from other media. “Correspondents FAN and ANNA-News (a news portal covering events in Ukraine and Syria is not associated with the” patriotic holding. “- RBC ) – the real” thugs. ” Climb into the inferno, “- says the interlocutor of RBC magazine close to the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the warring parties. For example, re-liberated Palmyra journalists FAN went along with the assault troops of the Syrian army in the morning March 3, 2017 the first agency of the first Russian media published a video of Romanovsky and his partner Roman Martynovich the capture of the citadel – an ancient fortress in the city center. Online TV channel “Vesti” report voenkora Eugene Poddubny appeared only in the evening of the same day.

One reason for the success of FAN correspondents in Syria – a so-called “private military companies (PMCs), Wagner’s” sure source log RBC, close to the center of reconciliation. “Yes, PMC communication used” – confirmed voenkor closely familiar with journalists’ patriotic holding. ” Soldiers under the command of PMC Dmitri Utkin ( “Wagner”) took part in the first assault of Palmyra in the spring of 2016, RBC magazine wrote earlier. Companies related to the businessman, served base Molkino (training base including soldiers, “Wagner”). And according to “to,” “Wagner” for two years, he moved to Russia in the company of people from surrounding Prigogine.

When asked for help from the “PMC Wagner” Romanovsky said that in four trips have never seen her soldiers. Now they are there really no, told RBC source close to the Center of reconciliation. “They [PMC” Wagner “] were put in the autumn”, – confirmed source familiar with the details of the work of the PMC in Syria. Both interlocutors RBC magazine claim that the region now operate other Russian PMCs are not related to the “Wagner” as commander. The presence in Syria informal units confirm the data Conflict Intelligence Team: in March, the research team published a list of at least nine Russian soldiers who died in 2017.

Whoever helped FAN, constant news and regular online broadcasting, equipped with a video from the front, as well as the reports of the Syrian events six times a day, reminiscent of the army, have borne fruit: for example, on-demand “Syria News” in the search results of “Yandex” in first place in early March, appeared in St. Petersburg agency’s website. Nikiforov says that it accountable media are actively using SEO techniques to optimize the news by keywords, and adjusting to user requests.

However, the share of this traffic the average for all portals “media factory” barely exceeds 8.5% of the total attendance, shows Similarweb statistics for February. At the same FAN and did about 4%: in the top five most popular keyword – combination of “News of Ukraine”, “News of New Russia”, “Syria”. It is much more effective than working with search engines, portals, media group gives the cooperation with leading teaser (exchange) networks and partnerships with federal publications. Exchanging links with “the feds” allowed several portals “patriotic holding” fly “Medialogia” in the ranking of the citation. A “tizerki” Now bring almost half of the audience holding sites.

Yeast rapid growth

March 7, 2017 Ural portal posted news that scientists from the US and China found in the cab of the color is the most dangerous to sit down. In the second paragraph, the author notes put hyperlink to the message “People’s News”, in the third – on FAN. On the same day, “,” spoke about the Wall Street Journal about a material tightening of Donald Trump in relation to Russia, adding a link to an article inside the FAN and not on the original publication of the American edition.

Portals within a “media factory” generously share the news with each other, thereby increasing the “visibility” of the text in the information space and popularizing each other readers. However, this kind of cooperation is not included in the ranking of the citation “Medialogia” where FAN burst as quickly as one of the most widely read media of the country.

FAN was wound up in August 2016, the monitoring system as a news agency, told the magazine RBC representative “Medialogia” Nadezhda Zhukovskaya. Over the year, the St. Petersburg media with federal ambitions took seventh place, leaving behind, such as the news agency “Regnum”. This breakthrough occurred in the period from October to December – for this time the citation index basic resource “patriotic holding” pulled almost six times, from the data, “Media” monitoring system, which was able to read the RBC with the help of one of the “Medialogia” partners .

Some federal media especially zealously took up cooperation with the St. Petersburg edition. For example, in December the leader of FAN citation was “,” (about 33% of the total citation index for the month), on the second and the third – “News” and “National News Service” (NSN), respectively, with about 15% of the index, further located portal (about 5%). Only on March 2, “,” published material 24 referring to the FAN March 3 – 25, considered the RBC magazine. NSN 8-10 March posted daily for ten news agency. In turn, the FAN and its resources generously colleagues publish news: for example, on the portal appear daily about six NSN notes.

To increase the citation index FAN Media offers federal share links to materials, the source told RBC in a large media company. “Some even complained that they do it too aggressively,” – he says. Such a proposal received from the correspondent of RBC and Nikiforov after an interview. FAN and RBC could cooperate in promoting their own exclusive materials, with the newswire each other “more attention”, described the essence of teamwork is one of the leaders of the “Media Factory”.

Media Managers, seen in the active exchange of links with FAN, did not hurry to answer questions about the RBC magazine partnership. Chief editor Ivan Nekrasov finally admitted that his portal and FAN really mutually quote each other, cooperation began in December of 2016. The decision, he said, was due to the behavior of federal publications that publish information without reference to the source: “This is not called to share the citation.” Colleague Nekrasov, editor in chief of NSN Sergey Gorbachev did not see anything abnormal in constant circulation to the FAN news: this is a normal journalistic practice, he said. Representatives of the “,” and “News” did not respond to questions about the RBC magazine.

Cited at reciprocal link exchange is growing by leaps and bounds, see “Medialogia”. “The situation is under analysis, after which the system estimates can be amended,” – said the representative of the monitoring company, without specifying whether that means FAN awaits a painful fall in the rankings. On the number of readers of mutual exchange of links is not much affected, for example, at the beginning of March with the FAN on day passed 130, it follows from Liveinternet statistics. Therefore, if the agency will lose positions in the citation index, not the fact that it will lose its more than 11 million viewers: the attendance is increasing for other reasons.

Eugene Prigogine
Photo: PhotoXpress
Gone networks

“One” click “no GEO will cost 75 kopecks.” “Only Russia – by 95 kopecks.”, “500 thousand conversions per month – no problem.” – Succinctly I wrote in Skype Ilya Babylon Project Manager to which RBC correspondent spoke in the guise of a representative of the St. Petersburg online newspaper. was not chosen by chance: this exchange network – one of the main sources of traffic for the “Federal News Agency”, which managed to increase attendance for the year six times.

In February FAN direct traffic – the number of readers, typed in the address bar – no more than 27%, from the data SimilarWeb. Many other portals “media factory” in general the share of direct calls is minimal: the “Inforeaktora” and “Politpazzla” – 6-7%, in “Words and Deeds” – 1.4%. At the same time those who are holding the team wants to oust from the top of the top media outlets, the number of loyal readers much more: for example, direct traffic “Kommersant” during the same period amounted to over 50%, the “Komsomolskaya Pravda” – 53%.

The main flow of FAN members received from the exchange networks, news aggregators and other indirect sources: their share – more than 60%. Half bring and network shows SimilarWeb. The principle of exchange networks is simple: on media sites posted banners with the titles of articles published by other members of the network, when you click on the link readers first hit the, SMI2, and others, and then – to the site of any partner. the exchange community.

When properly configured, such networks can really make a significant audience growth, said the executive director of the holding company “E-generator” Pavel Vlasov-Mrdulyash. In the “E-generator” is SMI2 network, which including running FAN. “Suspicions that they stranded bot traffic, we have, otherwise we would not have cooperated,” – says Vlasov-Mrdulyash.

Exchange readers through teaser network is free of charge, but if you want you can buy some of the transitions, says the general director of the agency “Otmedia” Anton Mamontov. According to him, the average cost of a “clique” starts from 10 kopecks., The price depends on the quality and type of source. “I do not believe that the sharp increase in traffic can do without purchased traffic,” – said Mamontov. Given the price of 95 kopecks., Called the representative, 1 million visitors per month could manage FAN 950 thousand. Rub.

Nikiforov confirmed that holding the portals are actively working with exchange networks and other platforms for promotion materials about the commercial component of cooperation, he says nothing. In the first stage with exchange networks work on a fee basis – “to test the quality of traffic and evaluation of prospects”, said the source of RBC magazine, familiar with the activity of the holding. Now dot moving some news, the budget is not more than 150 thousand. Per month for all platforms, he adds.

Sell audience teaser networks advertisers problematic, Mamontov said: it is difficult to assess the quality and core audience. “Advertisers buy weaned” Reputation “- does not agree Vlasov-Mrdulyash, noting that there are commercial partners and for the FAN. Casual readers of metabolic networks can theoretically become a true resource admirers, Vlasov-Mrdulyash. It is difficult to say how quickly this can happen, and what part the indirect traffic statistics is transformed into a loyal audience.

To assess whether advertisers traffic structure FAN satisfied or not, it is impossible. Revenue in the “patriotic holding” did not disclose, and Nikiforov and Zubarev even partially differ in the testimony. Responsible for the economic part, he said that the FAN and other resources – “private company, provides itself through advertising.” Responsible for the content is only shared his plans to withdraw FAN to self-sufficiency. In 2015, according to data in the “SPARK-Interfax,” revenue “of the Federal Agency of news” was 7.4 million rubles, “Neva news.” – 1.8 million rubles. The “Economy Today” and “People’s News”, established only in 2016, there are no statements.

RBC magazine reporter learned sites “media factory”: at the time of article banner advertising was only for FAN (MTS operator, construction holding LSR) for “Politpazle” within the articles jumped commercials. Separate phone advertising service from all of the holding is only for FAN and “Neva news”, in both cases, the phone takes the same name Officer Denis. “I’m still the one responsible for the advertising,” – he lamented when the correspondent RBC magazine called him and introduced employee marketing agency that wants to learn the conditions of cooperation. In editions of “Economics today” and “Politicians today” all the quotations were asked to send in the total mail publications.

The site “People’s News” is advised to deal with such issues at RBC magazine reporter followed this advice: response from the company, which is allegedly “sells advertisements in leading media in Russia and CIS”, followed. In addition to this self-loud on the main and only Smiads page of the site there is only a list of partner publications. It can be divided into two groups: one – the media “patriotic Holding”, including portals and Ukrainian news Nahnews Pohnews, the second – well-known publications on the market, for example, “”, “MC” and “Parliamentary newspaper “. In all four editions of the magazine RBC denied that cooperation with Smiads portal. Zubarev told RBC that first hears about this agency.

With such an attitude to the sale of advertising is the only source of funding – subsidies. Zubarev categorically refused to name the mysterious private investor. “Do Prigogine structures help? I can not comment. ”

Information Ivy

“Factory trolls” with RT TV channel mentioned in the open part of the US intelligence report on the Russian intervention in the US presidential election, published in early January 2017. This story – part “factory” – has not received the public to continue, but the RBC magazine was able to find at least one community in Facebook, which actively supported the Trump in the presidential race – Secured Borders. On the involvement of the community to the “factory,” said a source familiar with her work, his words confirmed the resulting editorial board RBC screenshot with the results of one of the community’s advertising campaigns (access to such statistics is impossible without administrating the page).

Secured Borders, created in order to “defend our country [the US] right now the risk, rejecting the liberal garbage” is almost 140 thousand. Fans. For example, coverage of one of the posts of the community to advertise during elections, over 4 million people, which delivered more than 310 thousand. Like and about 80 thousand. Time share the recording, from the screenshot. These are average figures for the results of advertising campaigns, said interlocutor RBC magazine: large number of thematic communities in which “factory trolls” spread information during the American campaign – about 15 pieces, the total daily coverage only on them is 12-15 million .

Other community, which recognized the RBC magazine, – Tea Party News in Twitter (almost 22 thousand readers.). According to internal statistics, the community, for example, at the beginning of November 2016 Tweets that account were shown around 1.6 million times. Weekly views blog published by employees “troll factory” in social networks (in addition to Facebook, and Twitter, Instagram, Tublr), reached in the campaign period, 30-50 million, the most popular were the message “against Hillary,” follows from the statistics, the resulting editorial staff RBC (its authenticity confirmed by a source familiar with the activities of the organization).

No one associated with the “factory of the trolls” people are not officially responded to the RBC magazine questions about whether the organization related to the Secured Borders and Tea Party News and deservedly whether special services mentioned in the report. Request RBC magazine passed Prigogine, remained unanswered. At the end of December 2016 the US extended sanctions against Russia in connection with the situation in Ukraine: a new hit list and Prigogine, for providing “financial, material or technological support <…> high-ranking officials,” Russia. RBC magazine source close to the businessman adds: Adding to the sanctions list may be associated “with the” trolls “factory activities.

If the “factory of the trolls,” supposedly created money Prigogine, and has remained a shadow organization with a dubious reputation and ideologically controversial task, “media factory” allegedly existing on his own money, has become the information and news holding with the country’s largest audience . Money does not bring an organization, but as noted by the former editor of the FAN, the project to create a “patriotic holding” can not be considered unprofitable, “profit is not monetized always at the same level, which produces the content.”

With the participation Vladislav Kovalenko