Russian troll factories take on Rail Baltica

At least from this spring, internet trolls have been following the Rail Baltica story in Latvia, representatives of the Security Police told Latvian Television on Monday.

Latvia's internal Security Police has observed a number of posts on social networks, mostly written in Russian. These posts differ from those of regular users by being virtually identical. Often, posts with the same picture are published by the dozen.

Posts like that indicate a desire to steer the opinion about Rail Baltica into a certain direction. The negative aspects of the project are stressed in these posts: Latvia and Lithuania disagreeing about the location where the track would cross the border, that people in Āgenskalns are protesting against building a Rail Baltica tunnel, and so on. 

The Security Police thinks that, in the current case, collective and coordinated action is taking place, likely by 'Kremlin troll army', and that these posts on social media can be considered to be a part of hybrid warfare.

The comments about the project started flooding in early this year when the public discussion about the Rail Baltica project started (and it did, naturally, spark some objections, particularly from the people and businesses whose material interests are influenced by the project). Security Police will continue monitoring the comments.

"It is obvious that all of this is directed towards steering public opinion into a particular direction. As of now, it is not yet known who is doing it - whether the inspiration has come from abroad, or perhaps Latvian political or economical powerhouses are involved. But first of all I would like to say that the best and the most effective way to recognize a troll is a critical approach, on the part of the reader, to what's being published in social networks, and most of all analysis of such information," said deputy head of the Security Police Juris Leitietis. 

The reason why trolls have become interested in Rail Baltica, according to the Security Police, is that until now Latvia's railroads were only connected with the East. A modern high-speed rail connection to the whole of Europe can be seen as opposed to Russian transit and political interests.

Rail Baltica is a proposed high-speed line to link Helsinki with Berlin through the Baltic capitals by 2024.

Below is a tweet that shows Russian-speaking trolls posting the same message all across Twitter. The posts read "Rail Baltica project: Latvia and Lithuania couldn't reach a compromise."

1 comment
Michael Laudahn
Little surprise. Before Russia doesn't assume a realistic and constructive attitude towards the problems its incompatible gauge creates for its neighbours, there won't be any cooperation worth the term. In the case of the baltic states, they so far have contented themselves to trolling. In the case of their former -stan republics (now supposed to be 'independent'), they continue to interfere directly into rail-related decisions. Russia needs a 2nd basic network in standard gauge, serving for transit purposes across its territory. It could be co-financed by Russia and the neighbours concerned. And of course, Russia itself should construct all its lines of international significance - like high-speed lines - in standard gauge. A high-speed line that incurs a gauge change just doesn't make sense. But Putin & co are so blockheaded, they just don't get it.
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