I'm Russian And I'm Not Laughing

Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg: President Trump, I'm Russian and I'm Not Laughing

I fear the indictment of Russian internet trolls may lead to less freedom for both Americans and Russians.

"They are laughing their asses off in Moscow," President Donald Trump tweeted on Sunday as part of his damage control after 13 Russian Facebook trolls were indicted for meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Really?

Some Russians -- including the man who runs the indicted troll factory -- are indeed laughing, but I'm one Russian who isn't. The fallout from the indictment comes too close to a couple of lines, both in U.S.-Russian relations and in attitudes toward free speech, that it would be best not to cross.

The Internet Research Agency, a notorious St. Petersburg outfit specializing in propaganda, disinformation and cyberbullying, has been known to Russians -- especially those critical of President Vladimir Putin -- since 2013, when the investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta published the first report about it. The organization had a strict security policy but also high staff turnover, so its vacancy ads and reports from people who have worked there or applied for jobs have been easy to find on the internet. Links to its many websites and the staunchly pro-Putin comments of its employees are a common sight on the social networks (I've had my share too from them).

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WNU Editor: Leonid Bershidsky is worried that the Kremlin's actions on election meddling and how the U.S. media and political class are covering it will directly impact the lives and livelihood of U.S. citizens whose nationality is Russian, as well as on Russians back home. I say that his concerns are too little and too late. I have been a Canadian citizen since the 1990s .... but I learned very quickly that my Russian nationality is a negative for what I was/am skilled at doing. No job at the Foreign Affairs ministry for me. But I accept it .... never let these obstacles stop anyone .... work with those who want to work with you, and move on. And as for Russia-Gate, Russian collusion, and meddling .... no .... I am not laughing. Blaming the defeat of Hillary Clinton on Russian collusion/involvement while using it to de-legitimize the election victory of Donald Trump has brought out the old Russian/Soviet prejudices and suspicions .... and it is already impacting the lives of many people. Bottom line .... this is going to take a long time to work itself out.

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