Support The Moscow Times!

Now is the time to support independent reporting from Russia!

Contribute Today

Pro-Kremlin Anchor Launches Bot for Russians to Snitch on Anti-War Neighbors

Vladimir Solovyev. Russia 1 TV channel

Pro-Kremlin TV host Vladimir Solovyov has launched a digital bot to help Russians report anti-war activity.

Would-be informers in Russia's fourth-largest city Yekaterinburg can use a bot linked to Solovyov’s local Telegram channel, UralLive, to fill in a form on supposed opposition sentiment.

“If you have information about anti-Russian activities in the Urals, write about it,” the channel said.

The information is then shared with Solovyov’s team, who can choose to repost details or even report alleged perpetrators to the police.

Those who criticize Russia’s war in Ukraine risk up to 15 years in prison if found guilty of “spreading fake news” about the army or hefty fines for “discrediting the Russian Armed Forces.” The laws have sparked a wave of denunciations reminicent of the Soviet era, with some Russians reporting fellow citizens for "unpatriotic" behavior.

Among the first to be reported and publicly named via the bot was Yekaterinburg restaurateur Yevgeniy Keksin, who jokingly suggested spitting in the cocktail of a patron wearing a T-shirt featuring the pro-war "Z" symbol. 

UralLive also warned its readers against talking to foreign journalists, who would “harness the information to their advantage.” 

Last week, Solovyov drew criticism for calling Yekaterinburg “a hotbed of disgusting liberals.”

Read more