What began as a grassroots online campaign featuring a schoolboy has grown into a mass hashtag protest against Russia's exclusion from the Winter Olympics backed by apparently fake Twitter accounts.
Ordinary Russians are undoubtedly upset about an International Olympic Committee decision to ban Russia's team from the Pyeongchang Games due to "unprecedented" doping violations.
However their sentiment has been amplified by what seem to be automated or semi-automated Twitter accounts known as "bots" and "trolls", according to analysis of social media traffic.
President Vladimir Putin dismissed the IOC's decision, made on Tuesday, as "orchestrated and politically-motivated".
State media have in turn reported extensively on the protest movement around the #NoRussiaNoGames hashtag, saying they are covering it just as any other news outlet would and denying their work is orchestrated.
But researcher Ben Nimmo says while much of the public support for Russian athletes online is authentic, the Twitter activity shows not all of it can be taken at face value.
"What we've got here is a small but genuine hashtag campaign, which is being exaggerated and amplified by Russian state propaganda outlets to make it look like the campaign is huge and an upwelling of popular anger," said Nimmo of Washington-based Atlantic Council think tank.
#NoRussiaNoGames first appeared on Russian social-networking site VK, notably in a post by a St Petersburg schoolboy protesting against lifetime Olympic bans handed to six Russian cross-country skiers in November for alleged doping violations.
The post included a video appeal from one of the banned skiers' mothers, which was viewed more than 150,000 times.
Data for views and shares on VK is not publicly available. On Twitter though, the hashtag received little attention until the Olympic ban and garnered just under 1700 tweets on December 5 before the IOC announcement.
Nimmo said data he has collected shows bots and trolls then helped to drive that number to more than 9000 in the hours following the decision.
"It's a good human interest story, it's an emotional boy saying how terrible unfairly Russia is being treated. It fits the state narrative perfectly," he told Reuters.
One of the accounts identified by Reuters as driving activity around #NoRussiaNoGames was @ungestum, which lists its location as the Russian city of Orenburg.
The account has sent 238 tweets consisting of just the hashtag to other users since the ban was announced, indicating that these were computer-generated.
But @ungestum has also sent tweets containing text in Russian written by a person. This suggests the account may be semi-automated, with both the user and a computer program able to operate it.
The account was later suspected.
The #NoRussiaNoGames campaign was also heavily promoted by a group of at least five accounts which tweeted the hashtag multiple times alongside links to unrelated Russian-language news articles, and repeatedly reposted tweets from each other.
State media outlets including RT, Sputnik and the Russian Defence Ministry's Zvezda TV channel all reported on the campaign, saying it had gone viral, and the hashtag received multiple endorsements from Russian athletes and celebrities.
Presenters at Zvezda donned T-shirts with the slogan on air on the morning of the IOC decision and the schoolboy and his father were interviewed by local media the next day.
A spokeswoman for RT said its coverage had not been influenced in any way.
"A swell of support for this hashtag and campaign both domestically and internationally put the story not only on our but clearly on your radar also," she said.
"Our coverage was not co-ordinated with anyone else's, news is news."