A new Russian influence operation has surfaced that mirrors some of the activity of an internet firm that the FBI says was deeply involved in efforts to sway the 2016 U.S. elections, a cybersecurity firm says. A website called usareally.com appeared on the internet May 17 and called on Americans to rally in front of the White House June 14 to celebrate President Donald Trump’s birthday, which is also Flag Day. FireEye, a Milpitas, Calif., cybersecurity company, said Thursday that USA Really is a Russian-operated website that carries content designed to foment racial division, harden feelings over immigration, gun control and police brutality, and undermine social cohesion. The website’s operators once worked out of the same office building in St. Petersburg, Russia, where the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency had its headquarters, said Lee Foster, manager of information operations analysis for FireEye iSIGHT Intelligence.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team indicted 13 Russians, the Internet Research Agency and two other Russian entities Feb. 16, charging them with operating a “troll factory” to sow discord in the United States and influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
The indictment says the Russians posted divisive and politically charged content on U.S. social media, including false stories, and posed as U.S. activists as part of a broad campaign “to interfere with the elections and political processes.” Twelve of the indicted Russians worked for the Internet Research Agency.
“We’re not saying it (USA Really) is the Internet Research Agency but there are a number of indicators that suggest it is,” Foster said.