Russian Troll Farm Employee on Mueller List Denies Influencing U.S. Election

One of the Russians indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller has admitted that he “cooperated” with the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg, but denied knowledge of its being a troll farm.

Last month, a grand jury brought charges—some dating back to 2014—against 13 Russian individuals and three entities over allegations that they helped sway the election in favor of President Donald Trump by pumping out misinformation through a network of fake accounts on social networks, via the agency.

GettyImages-81708297 Special counsel Robert Mueller speaks during a news conference at the FBI headquarters in 2008. One of the Russians indicted in his probe into claims of interference in the 2016 election denies he influenced American voters. Alex Wong/Getty Images

The indictment, according to the U.S. Justice Department, says the agency's intention was to "sow discord in the US. political system."

One name on that list is IT programmer Sergey Polozov, who stands accused of masking the location of the operation’s servers so they could not be traced to Russia.

U.S. prosecutors say the Russians posed as Americans to operate bogus social media accounts, buy advertisements and stage political rallies. They stole the identities of real people in the U.S. and built computer systems to hide the Russian origin of their activity.

But Polozov told BBC Russian that his actions did not influence any American voters.

In a Skype interview, he told the broadcaster he worked in what he described as a business center, where he was tasked with the role of “automating and optimizing the work of any business”.

Polozov said he thought he was working with a group of organizations and “there was no understanding that this was a single structure.” He did not believe the media reports that it was a single organization trying to sway American voters.

“Let's just say that I didn’t work at an agency, or whatever it’s called.... It seems to me that if such an organization existed, it would be quite difficult to hide it.

“I cooperated with them, but this is not work. It’s obvious how they differ. Work is when you come in and work at the office. Cooperation is when you fulfill certain orders," explained Polozov. "We carried out orders for various sites, systems.

“I did not control the servers, I did not purchase them, and in fact had nothing to do with any servers,” he claimed.

“I am quite an active patriot. I love Russia, and I like the direction in which we are moving," Polozov added. "Even though I don’t think it is true,  I still want to believe [in a "troll farm"] is possible.... It's great.”

The most prominent name on Mueller’s list is Yevgeny Prigozhin, also known as "Putin’s chef," who allegedly controlled the troll factory based in Russia’s second city, though he denies the claim.

After the Russians were indicted last month, Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said at a press conference in Washington that the charges did not mean the Russian activity had an effect on the outcome of the election, The Guardian reported.

When asked if he thought Russia's attempt to influence the U.S. elections was good or bad, Polozov said: "Every country is trying to intervene in foreign election campaigns. These are just political games. They are not positive and not negative. This is how the world works."

"If I had really done it, I would have thought that I was cool, because 13 people influenced the outcome of the elections in the U.S. This is a historic event. As it is, I can only laugh," he added. 

Last week, the former CIA Director John Brennan said that the final indictments in Mueller’s investigation are imminent.

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