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Russia has turned an old factory in Saint Petersburg into a so-called troll farm to spread disinformation and target Kremlin critics, including world leaders, according to UK government-funded research disclosed Sunday.

The site in the Russian city is allegedly being used to “spread lies” on social media and in comment sections of popular websites, Britain’s Foreign Office said in a statement detailing what it called a “sick” operation.

The Foreign Office, which will share the research with social media platforms, claimed it found paid employees of the troll factory were targeting politicians as well as musicians and bands, in countries including Britain, South Africa and India.

They use online platforms to recruit new sympathisers who then target the social media profiles of Kremlin critics, spamming them with comments backing Russian President Vladimir Putin and the war.

The trolls have targeted the accounts of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other UK ministers, alongside those of world leaders, the research said. 

Social media accounts of bands and musicians including Daft Punk, David Guetta, Tiesto and Rammstein also appear to have been targeted by the disinformation operation, it found. 

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