Russia Troll Factory's Office Set on Fire With Molotov Cocktail

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Students attend a class on fake news like the kind promoted by Russia's Internet Research Agency. The IRA is best known for its role interfering in the U.S. 2016 presidential election through social media posts and by staging political rallies in the U.S. while posing as Americans. Miguel Schincariol/AFP/Getty Images

The office of the Russian media company that emerged from the Internet Research Agency (IRA), the infamous St. Petersburg troll factory that was indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller in February, was set on fire on Tuesday when someone broke into the ground floor of the building and threw a Molotov cocktail.

The IRA is best known for its role interfering in the U.S. 2016 presidential election through social media posts and by staging political rallies in the U.S. while posing as Americans. The organization, which had a budget of $1.25 million a month, was based out of an office on 55 Savushkina Street in St. Petersburg before it was outed as a proponent of disinformation.

Once the IRA's cover was blown, however, an investigation by the Russian media company RBK revealed that it had moved several blocks and rebranded itself as a legitimate media outlet named the Federal News Agency (FAN).

The company now has around 16 media websites attracting an estimated 30 million page views each month. It claims to produce original reporting and analysis with a patriotic twist, but many of its articles attack Ukraine as a Nazi state and give a favorable review of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his policies.

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Students attend a class on fake new like the kind promoted by Russia's Internet Research Agency. Miguel Schincariol/AFP/Getty Images

On Tuesday, FAN published the surveillance videos from its own office demonstrating that someone had set the office on fire by throwing a Molotov cocktail. The video shows an unextraordinary office with tan desks and black office chairs, but does not show the suspect.

It is unclear what the attacker's motive was, but the company's editor-in-chief said that the organization had become a target due to its work.

"I believe this is tied to FAN's activities," editor Yevgeny Zubarev told the media. "We're most often attacked online, but these types of attacks have already taken place offline."

The IRA and its successor FAN are believed to be owned by billionaire restaurateur Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a man who has been nicknamed "Putin's chef." Prigozhin, a failed cross-country skier and hot dog salesman who spent nearly a decade in prison for robbery, is a close ally of Putin. He was indicted by Mueller's team for allegedly interfering in the U.S. presidential election.

Aside from his work with the troll factory, Prigozhin is believed to be in charge of managing the Russian mercenary armies stationed in Syria. Reporters from FAN have reportedly been sent to embed with the mercenaries.

Russia Troll Factory's Office Set on Fire With Molotov Cocktail | World