Again, Belarus has been wrapped in an international political scandal. Russin citizen Anna Bogacheva was detained by the international arrest warrant in one of Minsk hotels on October, 14. She was put on the Interpol wanted list by the US Department of Justice as one of the accused of meddling in the US elections in 2016.
On Tuesday, the arrest was being played up by the Russian media that referred to the sources in the State Duma, some Russian MPs were not slow to make a bold statement about the betrayal on the part of Belarus, but a few hours later Bogacheva was released.
The Prosecutor General’s Office opened the question of the termination of tracing Bogacheva in the territory of Belarus; Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s spokeswoman Natallya Eysmant stressed that no arrest happened at all!
“Never has there been a case of Belarus’ turning over a citizen of Russia to the United States,” Pavel Znavets, a lawyer and member of the Supreme Soviet of the 12th convocation, told Belsat.
According to him, the detention and release of the Russian national in Minsk is part of the big political game between Washington and Moscow. Bogacheva and some other blacklisted Russians are linked to the so-called Internet Research Agency established by businessman Yevgeniy Prigozhin. Prigozhin aka Putin’s Chef is the owner of the private military company Wagner; his agency is nothing but a troll factory coordinated by the Kremlin.
The Department of Justice found that, inter alia, in St. Petersburg, the so-called troll farms had written millions of comments in social networks to influence the information landscape and public opinion in the USA.
“For example, gun rights supporters got messages that the Democratic Party was opposed to this law on bearing arms. The same goes for the issues of migrants, sexual minorities, etc,” media expert Paulyuk Bykouski said.
By targeted information attacks on users, Russians provoked public outrage, protests and even riots. Five years ago, Anna Bogacheva travelled around nine states and had a hand in creating US citizens’ false accounts citizens on social media, the US authorities state. Notably, she had special equipment and disposable phones.
“It’s about creating fake web accounts and make them look plausible. They needed to be filled with content: for example, photos having geotags that specify locations,” Bykouski stressed.
In Russia, Anna Bogacheva was in charge of the data analysis group; later, she visited Northern Macedonia. In the past, Bogacheva who used to bear the surname Trigga participated in the activity of Russian nationalist organizations, including those that committed a series of murders on ethnic grounds.
Seven years ago, Bogacheva was spotted in Belarus. She attended the two-day forum Young Russia in the town of Maladzechna, where she lectured on the manipulation of public opinion through mass media and social networks.
“We should master such techniques of manipulating public opinion to sell our ideas to wide audience,” Anna Bogacheva-Trigga, a representative of the Right Conservative Alliance, said in 2012.
In addition to the far-right Russian youth, Elena Maslova, the first secretary of the Russian embassy to Belarus, took part in the forum as the deputy head of Rossotrudnichestvo, Russia’s Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Compatriots Living Abroad and International Humanitarian Cooperation.
Yaraslau Stseshyk, Belsat