The Bumaga publication published stories of former media employees who were part of Yevgeny Prigozhin's Patriot holding.
The fact that Prigozhin disbanded the Patriot became known on June 30. All publications included in it, including RIA FAN, Narodnye Novosti, Nevskiye Novosti, Ekonomika Segodnya and others, were closed. It was reported that almost half of the employees worked in the holding without official registration, and those who worked under the contract received 40–60% of their salary in envelopes. Roskomnadzor, in turn, blocked access to these media sites.
"Paper" tells about what happened in the holding, according to former employees of its publications. Most answered anonymously, only Vladimir Yagudaev, an SMM manager of the Politika Segodnya Telegram channel, introduced himself.
- What happened in the Patriot media on June 24 "reminded me of a movie about General Franco or Hitler's bunker."
- Shortly before the rebellion, Prigozhin had to write 4-5 pieces of news for each post.
- Many employees were tested on a polygraph, this system was introduced at the time of the opening of the holding in 2019. Applicants for the vacancy were asked about their attitude to psychoactive substances and cooperation with the opposition, especially with Alexei Navalny.
- Only a "special category of opposition" was sifted out. In addition to Navalny's supporters, "commies" were weeded out. Also in the last year, we have been closely monitoring whether employees have relatives from Ukraine. The new arrivals were treated as "potential spies".
- A couple of years later, some employees were required to re-take a polygraph test.
- The work proceeded "in a rough atmosphere of militarism, with terrible ideological pressure and the rhetoric of 'the truth is behind us'."
- There were no “zealous Putinists” among the employees, and in 2019 even people who were “normal” about Navalny worked in the publication.
- A special department was engaged in covering the activities of the opposition.
- "Politics Today" introduced a "taboo" on comments from "maestro" Yevgeny Ponasenkov, after he "hinted at the physical elimination" of Putin.
- It was also forbidden to publish the comments of political scientists “swearing at PMCs”, the words of Igor Girkin (Strelkov) and producer Iosif Prigogine.
- Most of the people who appeared in the materials of RIA FAN about Donbass as “victims of the Armed Forces of Ukraine” were dummy. They repeated memorized remarks, they were forced to "squeeze a tear."
- A separate task of the “troll factory”, which was part of the holding, was to come up with criticism of the governor of St. Petersburg, Alexander Beglov, with whom Prigozhin had an active confrontation.
- It was not hidden from the employees that the task of Prigozhin's media is to create "information noise" in order to "hammer the agenda."
The Patriot media holding was created on the basis of a “troll factory” that has been operating since 2013, whose employees wrote comments on social networks in support of the authorities for money.
Back in 2014, The Insider wrote about the Internet Research Agency, Prigozhin’s office, which is also called the “troll factory”, and fully described the structure of the organization. Then its budget was 33 million rubles, and the "information block" consisted of 313 people. In 2021, it became known that deputy Anatoly Wasserman was receiving money from Prigozhin’s firms, and next to him on the list were unknown people involved in writing paid comments.