Pro-Russian Twitter trolls stoke fears of Ohio derailment, analysis finds


Anonymous, pro-Russian accounts pushed anti-American propaganda and spread misinformation about the recent train derailment in eastern Palestine, Ohio, according to an Associated Press analysis, using verified accounts on Twitter, complementing criticism from some Republican lawmakers of the Biden administration’s response. to the incident.

Palestine misinformation.AFP via Getty Images Highlights

The accounts, identified for the AP by the London-based nonprofit Reset, claimed authorities were lying about the impact of the chemical spill from the train, raising concerns about possible health effects and likened the derailment to US government support for Ukraine, according to The Associated Press.

Other posts from the accounts – each of which featured a Twitter Blue verification mark – include a plot that environmental scientists traveling in eastern Palestine were killed in a plane crash and a claim that the derailment will increase deadly cancers in the region.

An account with 25,000 followers tweeted: “Biden offers food, water, medicine, shelter, pension payments and social services to Ukraine! Ohio first! Offer and deliver in Ohio! »

Other accounts offered support for the Russian government, spread allegations that the US was stealing Syrian humanitarian relief supplies (donated by China), and reposted videos and articles from Russian state media.

The Associated Press noted that she had attempted to contact several of the accounts identified by Reset, although only one replied, “Shut up.”

crucial quote

Yevgeny Priogzhin, one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s confidants and the head of the Russian state-backed mercenary company Wagner Group, said last year that Russia is “interfering and we will continue to interfere” with the elections in the United States. An arrest warrant for Prigozhin was issued by the FBI in 2018 after he was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and using social media accounts to influence public opinion.


The Biden administration’s response to the East Palestine derailment has drawn Republican criticism from Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. The House Oversight Committee launched an investigation into Buttigieg’s response last month, as Republicans — including Reps. James Comer (Ky.), Jim Jordan (Ohio) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) — say Buttigieg was too slow to react. Buttigieg later said he should have visited the site “sooner” after defending his decision to wait three weeks to visit as following “the norm”. Former President Donald Trump visited the site and said President Joe Biden should “return from his tour of Ukraine” to visit the region, although Biden has not visited in the month since.

Key context

Nearly 40 cars from a Norfolk Southern train fell off the tracks in East Palestine, Ohio on February 3. The accident caused a fire and spilled hundreds of thousands of gallons of hazardous chemicals into the surrounding area. Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention arrived late last month to investigate possible health risks resulting from the derailment, after some residents expressed concern that the released chemicals could cause cancer or harm their health, although the EPA has said there is no health risk.

Further reading

CDC workers scour eastern Palestine to investigate health risks from train derailment (Forbes)

House Republicans launch inquiry into response to Buttigieg’s Eastern Palestine derailment (Forbes)

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I’m a breaking news reporter for Forbes. I earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Auburn University before earning my master’s degree from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. Prior to Forbes, I worked as a reporter for USA Today in Asheville, NC, and Black Mountain, NC.

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