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Two Russians linked to attempts to influence African elections arrested in Libya

Two Russians with links to an infamous Russian troll farm have been arrested in Libya, their employer, who has been put on the U.S. sanctions list, said on Friday.

The Foundation for the Protection of Traditional Values said in a statement that its employees, including well-known spin doctor Maxim Shugaley, have been kept in custody in Libya since May. It said that it has been working behind closed doors to secure the men’s release.

The obscure think-tank did not explain the charges the men are facing but insisted that its employees did not interfere in any elections in Libya.

“The members of the research group were dealing exclusively with opinion polls and have been studying the humanitarian, cultural and political situation in the country,” the statement said.

Shugaley and the think-tank are connected to the infamous Russian troll farm that featured prominently in the probe by U.S. special investigator Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The think-tank is chaired by Alexander Malkevich who also edits the English-language website USA Really which is part of a media empire reportedly run by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ally Yevgeny Prigozhin.

The magnate reportedly finances the Internet Research Agency, better known as the “troll factory.”

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