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A Bible burning, a Russian news agency, and a story too good to check out

For example, Mr. Cheong does not appear to be complicit in any way. He regularly tweeted several videos a night of the protests and said, “It was definitely not my intention to just make the one story.”

But the Bible video fit his politics, and his tweet about it caught fire.

Most of the Russian endeavors receive far less attention and take place on far lesser-known websites. American officials identified one of these websites late last month as Inforos, a point of sale that they said was controlled by Russian military intelligence GRU and used to test various disinformation topics for Americans, Canadians and Europeans. For example, the Covid-1

9 disinformation has spread with the pandemic, and stories of dangers posed by the North Atlantic Treaty organization have become an old standard.

“Russian intelligence has become more sophisticated and more resourceful about the use of online disinformation,” Connecticut Democrat Senator Richard Blumenthal quoted a recent State Department report on Russian disinformation. “The methods used in 2016 seem almost rudimentary and curious.”

According to current and former American officials, InfoRos is on a GRU-run network that includes two other nominally independent news sites, OneWorld.Press and InfoBrics. These websites, in turn, send stories to alt-right and alt-left websites in North America and Europe that are receptive to the anti-establishment and often conspiratorial messages brought forward by the Russians.

In some cases, a straight line can be traced from GRU-operated operations to American websites promoting conspiracy theories. One such story appeared in January when InfoBrics alleged a whistleblower revealed that British spies and former President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko orchestrated the crash of a Malaysia Airlines flight over eastern Ukraine involving Russia-backed separatists targeting government forces fought. (Investigators found that the plane was shot down by a Russian-made missile.)

The story was produced by a research fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies, a think tank in Serbia that is also believed to have ties to Russian intelligence. The article was then published by InfoBrics. In turn, it was picked up by The Duran, an independent website based in Cyprus that frequently spreads Russian disinformation.

Neither the US nor the allied governments have publicly identified The Duran as being directly linked to the Russian espionage agencies. According to a cyber analyst for NATO, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, state-sponsored disinformation and marginal theories come together on this website.

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