According to one of American media outlets, which referred to the report of the Russian GRU (Main Intelligence Directorate), GRU had launched a campaign to discredit protests on the Maidan in Ukraine in 2014.
Its goal was to influence key decision-makers to pave the way for the Russian military action to seize the Crimean parliament building on February, 27.
Starting the day after Yanukovych had left Ukraine, invaders created a slew of fake personas on the social media platforms of Facebook and VKontakte. The personas were meant to represent ordinary people from across Ukraine who were allegedly disillusioned with Maidan protests in Kyiv.
A user calling himself Ivan Galitsin posted a comment on an article in a British newspaper saying that the “coup” had taken place in Ukraine. The story was about the Ukraine opposition leader and former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko.
“I live in Kyiv. I was on the Maidan, but peaceful protest ended two months ago, when we were displaced by armed nationalists. It’s a nightmare. Fascists came to us again 70 years after the Second World War. I do not want this future for Ukraine”, the user wrote
The "Galitsin" account was the creation of a Russian GRU, which used a picture of Konstantin Yaroshenko, a convicted Russian drug smuggler serving time in a U.S. prison.
Overall, the GRU team targeted more than 30 Ukrainian groups and social media platforms, as well as 25 English-language publications.
On Feb. 27, when the Crimean parliament building was seized, the GRU created four groups on Facebook and VK to encourage Crimeans to support secession from Ukraine.
“Using our accounts on Facebook, we circulated commentaries informing the population of the Crimean peninsula of a threat from Nazi organizations,” reads the report of the RF intelligence.
The GRU created a Facebook manual for its psyop personnel, including the tips for using them.
The created fake groups received nearly 200,000 views on Facebook on February, 27 alone.
According the GRU report, the “overwhelming majority of social media users agreed with the posted arguments and supported the authors’ positions”.