Russia’s information war expands in Eastern Europe

For Russia’s leaders, expansive propaganda and disinformation campaigns are a highly cost-effective alternative to traditional tools of war or diplomacy.

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World News

July 15, 2022 - 4:22 PM

Russian President Vladimir Putin looks on as he holds a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on April 20, 2022. (Mikhail Tereshchenko/Sputnik/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

WASHINGTON (AP) — As bullets and bombs fall in Ukraine, Russia is waging an expanding information war throughout Eastern Europe, using fake accounts and propaganda to spread fears about refugees and rising fuel prices while calling the West an untrustworthy ally.

In Bulgaria, the Kremlin paid journalists, political analysts and other influential citizens 2,000 euros a month to post pro-Russian content online, a senior Bulgarian official revealed this month. Researchers also have uncovered sophisticated networks of fake accounts, bots and trolls in an escalating spread of disinformation and propaganda in the country.

Similar efforts are playing out in other nations in the region as Russia looks to shift the blame for its invasion of Ukraine, the ensuing refugee crisis and rising prices for food and fuel.

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