The Manchurian Write-In

— This unknown presidential hopeful was promoted by Russian propagandists as part of an anti-U.S. disinformation campaign

Matthew Pinnavaia is one of countless independent candidates who ran for U.S. president in 2016.

Like most independents, the San Diego-based gemologist and founder of The George Washington Political Party faced an uphill battle in his campaign for the White House.

But unlike his fellow presidential hopefuls, Pinnavaia had two unusual advantages—his own personalised coffee cup, and the support of Russian propagandists.

“Currently unavailable” on Amazon (source)

In January 2015, Pinnavaia made headlines in Russia after a major news agency, TASS, reported that he’d written an open letter to Kim Jong-un apologising to the North Korean dictator on behalf of the U.S.

The cause for apology: comments made by then-U.S. President Barack Obama in support of The Interview, a 2014 satirical film about the Jong-un dictatorship, after it was pulled from cinemas by distributor Sony (the company later reversed its decision).

Kim Jong-un (source)

The TASS article has more details, via Google Translate:

A member of the presidential election race in the US has written an open letter to Kim Jong-un and the people of the DPRK with apologies for the scandalous Hollywood film “Interview” in which a fictional attempt on the North Korean leader is played out. Matthew Pinnavaia, who applied to participate in the 2016 elections, accuses the current inhabitant of the White House of “immoral politics” in relation to the DPRK.

“The endorsement by the President of the United States of America of a film that reflects the [assassination] of a foreign leader or president is a tragic misdemeanour for the history of my beloved country, and is definitely an amoral and tragic chapter in the history of American foreign policy,” says the letter, a copy of which was received by TASS.

“President Barack Obama, the head of the Japanese corporation Sony Kaz Hirai and the president of the American corporation Sony Pictures Entertainment Michael Lynton are responsible for the immoral policy towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” Pinnavaia writes. His letter begins with the words “dear Kim Jong-un,” and ends with an assurance that he himself “does not approve” an attempt on “the foreign leader.”

Attempts to contact the author of the letter by phone have not yet been marked with success. According to the official website of the US Federal Electoral Commission, 56-year-old Matthew Pinnavaia, who lives in California, applied to participate in the upcoming US presidential election on June 20, 2014. However, this formal step does not guarantee that his name will be included in the ballot paper.

The story quickly caught the attention of the Internet Research Agency, the Russian propaganda factory that was recently indicted for allegedly meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

Leaked documents obtained by Russian newspaper My Area (MR7.ru) show the now-infamous troll factory instructed its army of “kremlebots” to spread the story on LiveJournal, using Pinnavaia’s letter as a pretext to promote a “negative attitude to the foreign policy of the state, conducted by Obama” (a database of the factory’s LiveJournal profiles is available to view by clicking here).

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One post, published under the pseudonym “tiopretytcur,” said that Pinnavaia was “stunned by the actions of his president,” portraying the candidate as an “éminence grise.”

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Via Google Translate:

[Pinnavaia] apologised not only for himself, but, as it turned out, for the greater part of Americans. He became a gray cardinal who gave publicity to the people’s thoughts.

It went on to speculate about how the incident might affect the 2016 election, while commenting disparagingly about “the first and inglorious black president.”

It will be interesting to observe this directly at the elections. Obama’s policy has completely failed. Trying to defend freedom of speech, Obama dug himself, probably the last trench of the first and inglorious black president. Oh, Martin Luther [King] would not thank him, alas.

Another post, published under the pseudonym “winter_kinder,” included a racist rant comparing Obama to “hefty negro” Mike Tyson.

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Via Google Translate:

[Jong-un] about a year ago calmly said: “If you do not take your hands off my country, I’ll send my favorite NUCLEAR ROCKETS, BLACK !!!” It’s as stupid as to approach Mike Tyson and ask: “Hey, hefty Negro, can you tell me your sister’s number?”

It went on to trumpet the virtues of respecting “other people’s traditions,” describing Pinnavaia’s apology as “the right step.”

[Pinnavaia] generally considered it necessary to apologise to the leader of North Korea, which, in my opinion, was the right step. After all, I very much doubt that the States would be delighted if Iran shot a film about an attack somewhere in Manhattan, as a result of which their head of state is killed. In short, I even have my own list of films that can not be, just can not be watched because of their extreme cheerfulness and disrespect for other people’s traditions.

Yet another post, published under the pseudonym “vince_crane,” hoped that Jong-un would bomb cinemas that showed the offending film.

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Via Google Translate:

It remains to be seen if Kim Jong-un will forgive the stupid amerikos…or bomb all theatres, why not.

A fourth post, published under the pseudonym “demouu1,” expressed support for Pinnavaia’s campaign, but also regret that it was not likely to succeed.

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Via Google Translate:

[Not] all residents of the States approve of their president (in this situation, to aggravate relations with the DPRK…is simply stupid), on the contrary, Obama’s ratings say the opposite! Yes, and one of the candidates for the presidency of the United States…has already accused the current head of state Barack Obama of “immoral policy” towards the DPRK and sent an open letter of apology to Kim Jong-un…

It’s a pity that this Pinnavaia has not yet become president (and it is unlikely to become).

It’s unclear if Pinnavaia made the comments attributed to him as he didn’t reply to a request for comment, although a second article by TASS said the agency had corresponded with him and that he was “preparing another letter…addressed to the leadership of the Russian Federation” concerning “the economic sanctions imposed by Washington.”

You can read more leaked documents from inside the Russian troll factory by clicking here.

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