In September 2014, several regional communities of VKontakte (BNK, Komiinform, Fierce of Komi, Typical Komi) announced the start of placing advertisements on their pages. Later, the total number of different thematic communities in the social network, kind of advertising "holding", has grown to several dozen.
In June 2015, marketing director of a state-run newspaper "Respublika" and, as noted in the material, moderator of these communities on VKontakte Tashtimirov Andrei in an interview to some news agency said: "We dictate the agenda, we publish the most interesting and important information for the reader".
The correspondent of "7x7" was watching these communities for several weeks and found that there were not only advertisement. Created "commercial" network of communities on VKontakte is actively used by republican authorities to replicate the positive news of the leadership of the region, for promotion of "convenient" candidates and demonizing political opponents on the eve of the September elections.
From the "Republic" to "Chickens of Syktyvkar"
You only need to open the appropriate section of the largest of the regional communities, Information Agency "BNK", to understand what "few dozen communities" exactly. In the profile of smm-manager you can find an impressive list of groups, ranging from the sale of a building moss in Syktyvkar, delivery groups of pizza and sushi, hairdressers and suspended ceilings, to the official group of the newspaper "Respublika", the festival "Ybitsa" or, for example, the TV channel "Yurgan". Just a list of over 150 communities, but some of them do not geographically belong to the Republic of Komi, a part is not updated, and a part is in the list, apparently, for the mass. For example, the administrators of the "Krasnoye Znamya. Komi Republic" were not aware that they were among the communities of the advertising "holding".
How does the network function?
Thematic communities of districts and cities of the country, for example, Vylgort.rf and Udora online, as well as accounts of municipal regional newspapers, for example, a group of Vorkuta city newspaper "Zapolyarye" and the newspaper "Pechora time" cause the greatest interest in this list. A "promotion" of relevant topics occurs mainly through such communities.
Regional communities can be divided into two categories: official that administer the press service of the local administrations ("Administration of MR "Izhma" or "Press service of MP "Ust-Vym") and informal, for example, community uniting residents of Priluzsky district of Komi, "I love Priluzye". Also, communities called "Choose the best" appeared in each of the municipalities before the primaries of the party "United Russia" after which they continued to be filled. They also spread "correct" information. More than 80 teams are actively involved in the "network" for these purposes.
According to "7x7", information management and administration of the head of the government of Komi is responsible for the content: which articles or other materials must be "dispersed" in communities and in what manner. Further, intermediaries in the face of several employees of the State Council of the Komi send the links directly to the press service of the regions of the republic with the specific instructions where one or other information should be placed. Moderators of other communities get links to the desired articles with explanations.
To confirm this information, the correspondent of "7x7" registered e-mail similar to e-mail of the press service of the administration of one of the districts of Komi. He sent a message to the email which, presumably, sends out instructions to place the news in formal and informal communities of one of the districts of Komi.
After a while, he received a reply signed by Adviser of the Secretariat of deputy associations of the State Council of the Komi apparatus Alexei Karpov that at the time of the correspondence there was only one link to the video of the speech of candidate for deputy of State Council Roman Koidan for the "acceleration".
As a result, video with a candidate referred to in the message was distributed to more than 50 groups of municipal newspapers, groups of district administrations and informal communities.
An indirect proof that the email [email protected] belongs to Alexei Karpov is that this email is specified as an address to register on a sports festival "Ybitsa". At the time of acceptance of applications and event spokesman of the event was a former correspondent of "Komiinform" Alexei Karpov.
A source of "7x7", close to the governor's administration, also confirms it adding that its functionality is quite limited, in particular, in addition to sending it decides which of the titles should be printed in large type, and in which - not.
Alexei Karpov himself denied this information, saying that he didn’t do the mailing.
“Let's just say, I really can not comment on this information and the information is incorrect and false, of course,” he said.
Leaders of several regional news services interviewed by "7x7" also deny that they receive instructions about placing the right information in the communities, and make the decision to place information in regional communities by themselves.
“It's just an interesting information, why not to publish it in the group. Let's say, about the Communist Party [the news about the Komi republican committee Communist party conference where journalists were not allowed] is, roughly speaking, of the solidarity of journalists, because we are often not allowed to some activities,” said the head of the press service of administration of Vuktylsky district Vasilisa Grechneva.
The rest of the news, also dedicated to the scandal around the regional Communists placed in the official group of the administration, she also explained by being interesting.
“Well, it was simply interesting. What can be specified if it’s a community on VKontakte. I can understand when someone point what to print in the newspaper, on the basis of the state order, but why should it be specified in the community?” she explained.
The press service of the district administration of Izhma also assured "7x7" that all the news in the community are placed without instructions "from above".
“The group raises issues of local and regional significance, including controversial. We can not publish only good news, periodically publish some controversial questions so people watched it and it was not boring. We don’t have any deliberate policy in this respect. What kind of instructions we may have? Even if we have them, they are always filtered through the head of the district, through me, if we have any special instructions,” a specialist in public relations of administration Snezhana Terentyeva said in a telephone conversation.
Over the past few weeks, according to the online journal, in the sent out instructions to replicate articles devoted to the regional branch of the Communist Party mainly featured. For example, an article entitled "The Regional Office of the Communist Party continues to be with scandals" was necessary to be published in all informal groups of municipalities, and the article "The LDPR faction in the State Council of Komi insists on removal of Vyacheslav Shulepov from the post of chairman of the permanent commission on housing and communal services" had to be widely disseminated. In addition to the informal regional accounts, it was ordered to repost in national communities.
As a result, the recording of the Communists appeared in 60 communities, including "Love in Syktyvkar and Ezhva". And, for example, the news "Communist Shulepov: there are manhy of you, I'm alone, I don’t have time" has been published in 60 communities, including official groups of reference and information sites on the candidates for deputies of the State Council and the Council of Municipalities of the Republic "vyborykomi.rf" and "vashkandidat.rf", "All-Russia People's Front of Komi", "Publishing House of Komi" [contacts contain Bykovskaya Nadezhda, former director of the publishing house, and now a human rights commissioner in the Komi Republic]. In addition, entry was posted in the "e-Government of the Republic of Komi" and the community "Chickens of Syktyvkar 18+".
In general, all the materials about the scandals surrounding the communists in Komi were published recently, appeared in dozens of communities, and entries appeared simultaneously. If you pay attention to the date and time of the entry in the community - their "centralized management" is obvious.
After analyzing the posts in communities of the "network", we can identify people, which have the most media support of the republican authorities. So, last month the network of the communities on VKontakte built up news devoted to the director of the national TV channel Yurgan Shmarova Nina, a teacher of the Ukhta State University, a member of the Public Chamber of Komi Yevgeny Vologin [for example, in letters to the press service a video with the announcement of the program "Doctor lecturer" where he serves as the lead was pointed out to be put it in the municipal social resources] and to lawyer Roman Koidan. The latter, according to the number of materials, circularized in the network, enjoys special support. Moreover, the communities circularize information notes on the "United Russia" or, for example, an interview with the chairman of the State Council of the Komi Republic Igor Kovzel.