Kremlin Launches Bot Campaign Against Unlikely Targets

( – The nonprofit Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has suggested that the Kremlin is using fake bot accounts to attack relatives of Russian soldiers who complain about the Ukrainian conflict online. The trope being deployed is to slander the perspective by associating it with jailed opposition figure Alexei Navalny or his organization, the Anti-Corruption Foundation (ACF).

Russian military families are increasingly concerned about the extended deployments of their loved ones. As the holiday season approaches in the Christian country, Christmas is a time when families gather together. Many of the calls to have soldiers returned or given time off are associated with the holiday season.

The wives of soldiers recently organized a protest in Moscow to rally against the call for reservists to serve in Ukraine. It’s dangerous to protest against the war in Russia as Putin and his party have pushed a law into place that makes prison terms up to 15 years possible if prosecutors successfully convict an individual of “knowingly” spreading “false” war-related information.

Protesters told Russian outlet Important Stories that they applied for a permit but had it rejected due to spurious concerns about a particular respiratory virus. They held the protest regardless, in Theater Square while Russian communists rallied nearby to celebrate the 106th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution.

The relatives have been accused of being a foreign puppet and had a previous organization shut down by the Russian government over the concerns. They currently organize through a Telegram channel called “Way Home.” The organization published a statement from the wives calling mobilization “a terrible mistake,” and lamented the loss of men who will die in the conflict.

ISW cited a BBC Russia story claiming bots were attacking Russian military relatives who complained about deployment on social media. The bots make frequent use of a talking point that folks who complain about the deployments are associated with Navalny and ACF.

The British Ministry of Defense also published a brief in support of the Ukrainian war effort and suggested the Kremlin was using bots in a post on X.

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