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Russian Disinformation Videos Smear Biden Ahead of U.S. Election

Last month, a video began circulating on social media purporting to tell the story of an internet troll farm in Kyiv targeting the American election.

Speaking in English with a Slavic accent, “Olesya” offers a first-person account of how she and her colleagues initially worked in support of President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. Then, she says, after a visit by mysterious Americans who were “probably C.I.A.,” the group began sending messages to American audiences in support of President Biden.

“We were told our new target was the United States of America, especially the upcoming elections,” the woman in the video says. “Long story short, we were asked to do everything to prevent Donald Trump from winning the elections.”

The video is fake, part of an effort to cloud the political debate ahead of the U.S. elections.

U.S. officials say the video is consistent with Russian disinformation operations as internet warriors aligned with Russia appear to be honing their strategy. Some of the old tactics of 2016 or 2020 could be used again, with new refinements.

While there has been much hand-wringing over the role that artificial intelligence could play this year in fooling voters, current and former officials said that videos were one of the most immediate threats.

Microsoft said the video featuring “Olesya” probably came from a group it calls Storm-1516, a collection of disinformation experts who now focus on creating videos they hope might go viral in America.

Read more on nytimes.com