Another former employee is suing Russia's ‘troll factory’
For the second time, a former employee at the “Internet Research Agency,” better known as Russia's so-called “troll factory,” is suing the company for unpaid benefits. Olga Maltseva says the Internet Research Agency owes her maternity pay, and she's taking the company to court to get the money, according to a new report by the Russian service of the BBC.
After meeting with Lyudmila Savchuk, an activist who famously worked undercover at the “troll factory” for six weeks and then sued the company for unpaid wages, Maltseva started collecting evidence of her work “trolling” the Internet for hire, and later published this information online.
Shortly thereafter, she was called into the office to receive an unscheduled paycheck. When she arrived, however, her manager demanded that she resign, holding her wages hostage, unless she agreed to sign a resignation letter. Maltseva accepted the money, but refused to resign, declaring that she was taking maternity leave. A representative later caught up with her and her husband, allegedly offering the couple hush money to keep the story private, but they said no.
Maltseva is now represented by lawyers from “Team 29,” which specializes in information-freedom cases. The legal group says it intends to leverage the labor code to “rip off the mask of anonymity” that the “troll factory” has used to disguise its activities. Ivan Pavlov, Maltseva's attorney, says he wants to expose “who is responsible for these acts—for these attacks online and for trolling.”
Maltseva is reportedly demanding more than 300,000 rubles ($4,675) from the company in unpaid maternity leave and labor costs.
In August 2015, a court in St. Petersburg sided with Lyudmila Savchuk, awarding her 1 ruble (about $.02) in compensation in moral damages. Savchuk’s lawsuit described the inner workings of the “troll factory,” stating, “The work was scheduled in shifts, and each shift was 12 hours long. The employees had to write a certain amount of posts and comments on various websites.” The aims of the special projects department, where Savchuk worked, included writing at least five political posts on topics distributed at the beginning of every week. The salary amounted to 41,000 rubles ($776) per month.