#TrollTracker: Stale Narratives In Response to Expelled Diplomats

March 27, 2018

On March 26, the United States President Trump ordered the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats and the Russian consulate in Seattle to be closed citing the Kremlin’s involvement in the Skripal poisoning. He was joined in the announcement by 23 countries, including 16 European Union member states and 19 NATO allies. The move was in solidarity with the United Kingdom and in response to the poisoning of former Soviet spy Sergei Skripal, his daughter Yulia, and a number of surrounding British nationals on March 4 in the English town of Salisbury.

In response to the expulsion of diplomats, pro-Kremlin trolls intensified their social media campaign to vilify the Skripal investigation and deny Russian involvement.

Pro-Kremlin news outlets and Twitter accounts launched several campaigns to distort the public opinion about the ongoing investigation. One narrative compared the expulsion of the Russian diplomats to the Iraq war and argued that there was not enough evidence to implicate Russia in the poisoning. Another narrative suggested the chemical attack did not happen at all, using a small hashtag campaign #falseflag.

Image: Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting in Kemerovo, Russia March 27, 2018. (Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin via REUTERS)