Russian TV network is trolling the U.S. with ads about the election and hacking accusations

Fire so bright, Putin's gotta wear shades.
Image: SPUTNIK/KREM/REX/Shutterstock

UPDATE (2:05 p.m. ET): Updated to include statement from RT to Mashable.


You didn’t think that Russia would just sit quietly and take all this talk of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and alleged collusion with the Trump campaign, did you?

RT, the English-language television network, has rolled out a series of ads at a Moscow Airport that fire back at the U.S. for allegations against Russia.

And let’s just say the ads photographed by Rachel Palermo, a former press rep for the Democratic party, and flagged by Buzzfeed take trolling to a new level.

“Missed a plane? Lost an election? Blame it on us!” reads one ad. Another references Hillary Clinton, and a third reads “Come closer and find out who we are planning to hack next.”

That is, as the xennials say, straight fire .

(Granted, you’d have to travel through a Moscow airport to see the ads and not many Americans will be doing that, but the images were bound to reach these shores somehow.)

In an email to Mashable, a spokesperson for RT said:

Thank you for inquiry. In a totally shocking turn of events, these are the exact same questions we have received from all other media outlets thanks for giving us an idea to add another billboard with the answers!

This RT ad campaign was produced in-house (but President Putin personally approved copy). The ads went up in June (with many thanks to the troll armies that hacked the display screens for us) and will be up in Sheremetyevo (Moscow), Pulkovo (St Petersburg) and Sochi International airports through summer of 2018. Please be careful writing about these ads, as you could be accused of colluding with the Kremlin to promote its “propaganda bullhorn.”

Palermo tells me she captured the ads at Sheremetyevo International Airport.

And there are more ads, including one that reads, “The CIA calls us ‘a propaganda machine.’ Find out what we call the CIA.”

Image: RT

Image: RT

In diplomatic situations, including his recent meeting with President Trump, Putin has denied any involvement from Russia in interfering with last year’s election. U.S. intelligent agencies strongly disagree.

RT is “an autonomous non-profit organization financed from the budget of the Russian Federation,” according to a spokesperson, but some have accused the network of being a propaganda outlet for the Putin regime, with U.S. intelligence even implicating the network in Russia’s 2016 election shenanigans.

So, to the more suspicious or cynical, the ads, reportedly made “in-house,” might be seen as a creative way for Putin and the Kremlin to fire back at all the allegations without having to actually say anything out loud.

RT has already been involved in previous Trump administration scandals, though in a roundabout way: Gen. Michael Flynn, who resigned after a very brief stint as Trump’s National Security advisor for failure to disclose everything about his conversations with a Russian ambassador, had previously faced scrutiny over his attendance at RT’s anniversary banquet in 2015 where he sat next to Putin.

Flynn also received $45,000 from RT for his appearance and an interview he gave at the banquet.

As for what role Putin had in these ads, the response from RT included above claims that Putin “personally approved” the copy, clearly a sassy, sarcastic response right in line with the ads.

Russian humor has come a long way since Yakov Smirnoff.


Correction: An earlier version of this story referred to RT as a “state-owned news agency.” This has been corrected.

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