Photo: Artem Samokhvalov / Lori
RBC magazine learned about the existence of mysterious and at the same time Russia’s largest media holding. What binds the group with “trolls” and what is the attitude of Yevgeny Prigozhin — in the main facts of the investigation
What is the “factory media”
RBC magazine found 16 portals that are linked to each other or a common address or General supervisor, or a unique identifier of the Google services. Nine of the 16 reference sites there is evidence of Roskomnadzor, portals indexed by search engines. The most visited news resource group — Federal news Agency (FAN), his audience in February of 2017 exceeded 11 million, follows from the statistics LiveInternet.
The cumulative audience of 16 portals “factory media” rose to 36 million people. These indicators there is no one Russian media: for example, the website of “Komsomolskaya Pravda” during the same period was visited by over 33 million people, “RIA Novosti” — slightly less than 28 million, While an impressive leap holding made almost a year: in December 2015, the aggregate attendance for the FAN and its resources did not exceed 5.5 million (historical statistics of Alexa Rank).
As the media linked to “trolls”
FAN, “Economics today” and a few portals appeared in 2014 and was originally occupied offices in the famous building on the street Savushkina 55, in Saint-Petersburg. This address was specified in the evidence of Roskomnadzor, issued at the end of the same year. At Savushkina 55, is based the so-called Troll factory, has informed Bi-bi-si, “Fontanka.ru”, “Novaya Gazeta” and other media. Its employees were supposed to protect the blogs current government, to criticize the opposition, to promote Patriotic values to the masses.
Journalists who work in the FAN, and other resources that sickened a neighborhood with “trolls”: in the end, in 2015, they moved and now occupy a wing in the business centre “Lenin” on Beloostrovskaya, 8, is located a few kilometers from Savushkina 55. In this case, after the departure of FAN and related resources from the “trolls lair” in the building on Savushkina at the end of 2015, a new group of resources: for example, “Interactor”, “Politekspert and Uinform” (at the beginning of 2017 received certificates of Roskomnadzor). The founder of St. Petersburg, OOO “Navinfo”, its sole owner Yuri Krasnov confirmed that the editorial work on Savushkina 55.
Who owns the “factory media”
As for the “Troll factory”, the legal structure of the “factory media” is confusing. A significant part of the entities associated with “patriot holding”, recorded with former or current employees of the portals of the group or their relatives. For example, “Federal news Agency” belongs to the former editor-in-chief of the “people’s news” Anne of Botevo, it follows from the database “SPARK-Interfax”.
Head of the legal structure, which contains all site group does not exist. However, the leadership of the organization in negotiations with colleagues from the Federal media uses the word “holding”, told RBC member of one such meeting. Moreover, according to one of interlocutors of RBC magazine, inside holding really think about creating a single legal entity. Now almost every website has its own editorial Board. Thus, according to the two interlocutors who are familiar with the operation of the “factory media”, “non-core” areas (accounting, IT, etc.) common to all portals.
Who is in charge of “factory media”
For the launch of the first media has hired professional journalists. Director FAN was a former editor of “Rosbalt” Evgeny Zubarev, editor-in-chief — a former top Manager of the regional office of “RIA Novosti” Vladislav Edges. The management is now built on a territorial basis: editors who work in the business centre “Lenin” on fruit (FAN, “the Economy today”, “Folk news”, “Politics today”), by former Builder Alexei Nikiforov.
A group of editors who work from Savushkina 55, oversees Oleg Vasilyev, told RBC a source familiar with the structure of the “patriot holding”. In the publication “Novaya Gazeta” Vasilyev previously appeared as one of the top managers of “Troll factory”. However, Nikiforova and Vasiliev are hardly the main leaders of the “factory media”, but rather performers.
“The key issues [associated with the work of the “patriot holding”] had to solve with [Mikhail] Burchik”, — told RBC former employee of one of the media group. Published in 2014 by a group of “Humpty Dumpty” the array of letters allegedly exchanged the leadership of the “Troll factory”, Burchik appeared as Executive Director. In conversation with the RBC magazine, he said that does not work in the media, and “advises” as a specialist in the promotion and development of Internet projects.
Who finances the work of the “factory media”
In the media work 225-250 people, the annual cost is about 180 million rubles. taking into account rent, said Nikiforov. Log source RBC close to the management of the group, the sum of 270 million rbl. It is closer to reality, if to take for a basis the financial performance of “AZHUR-Media” — St. Petersburg media companies, the largest asset of which is the “Fontanka.ru”. In 2015, with 80 employees costs “AZHUR-Media” amounted to 113 million rubles, in 2016 — 120 million rubles.
“The Troll factory” could cash to support the company’s well-known restaurateur Eugene Prigogine, wrote earlier “the New newspaper”. This is also in conversation with the magazine RBC said a source from an environment of the businessman. Prigogine himself, a possible link with the “Troll factory” has never officially commented. At the request of the RBC magazine, sent during the preparation of the investigation, Prigogine did not answer. To the question about funding sources Zubarev said that the project supports a “private investor”. “Does the structure of Prigogine? I can’t comment,” said Zubarev.
Nikiforov claims that the media holding a private entity and “contains itself through advertising”. Revenue in the “patriot holding” do not open. Zubarev told RBC about “plans to bring the FAN to self-sufficiency”, Nikiforov — that the group “contains itself through advertising”.
Due to what the audience has increased holding
The main reason for the rapid growth of the audience of the portals of the “factory media” in 2016, the year the active work with the teaser (metabolic) networks (e.g., Lentainform.com and Ex.24smi.info). “Jizerky” now bring in almost half of the audience to the sites of the company, found the magazine RBC based on the data from SimilarWeb.
The networks built on the following principle: the media are placed at the banners, where are the headlines of articles published by other members of the exchange community. When pressed, the user first enters the same Lentainform.com or SMI2, and from there to the site of any partner. Teaser network can really give a significant increase in traffic, said Director of the holding “E-generator” (includes SMI2) Pavel Vlasov-Mrdulyash.
Part visits can get for free, through the exchange with partners, part — purchased. The cost of one “clique” in network Ex.24smi.info reaches 95 kopecks., said the project Manager Ilya Babel, which RBC was presented as a potential customer. “Patriot holding” really worked with exchange networks on a paid basis, but only in the beginning of cooperation, the source told RBC magazine, familiar with the work of the “factory media”.
With whom to cooperate “factory media”
In 2016 the FAN to dramatically increase not only attendance, but also and citation: in the monitoring system “Medialogia” Agency was opened in August, to end the year ranked seventh among news agencies, leaving behind, for example, “REGNUM”. This files most often on the FAN refer “Газета.Ru”, Ura.ru “news”, “national news service”, follows from the data of “Medialogia”. For example, “Газета.Ru” March 3 was set of 25 materials, with reference to FAN, 2 March — 24 material.
Representatives “Газета.Ru” and “News” did not answer the questions of the RBC magazine. Chief editor Ura.ru Ivan Nekrasov RBC magazine confirmed that its portal and FAN do mutually cite each other. Chief editor “National news service” Sergey Gorbachev sees nothing anomalous in a constant appeal to the materials of the FAN.