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Hackers air Putin deepfakes on Russian TV, radio ahead of Ukraine’s counteroffensive

Putin deepfake TV
Hackers air Putin deepfakes on Russian TV, radio ahead of Ukraine’s counteroffensive

A fraudulent Putin declared a state of war and general mobilization in Russian regions bordering Ukraine while a video by Ukraine’s MoD was aired in occupied Crimea

In what appears to be a part of information support for Ukraine’s counteroffensive, hackers have breached Russian information channels in occupied Crimea and regions bordering Ukraine to air panic-inducing messages.

“Universal mobilization” over radio and TV

Several Russian radio stations and the TV station Mir have broadcasted a fake announcement that was ostensibly from President Vladimir Putin.

In this fraudulent address, it was declared that there was “universal mobilization” and a state of war in specific border oblasts, a statement especially pertinent in light of the ongoing operations of anti-Putin insurgents near Belgorod.

The counterfeit address was heard on the radio in the Rostov, Belgorod, and Voronezh oblasts, the Russian media Meduza reported. The impersonated Putin alleged an attack by Ukrainian armed forces supported by NATO and Washington. He falsely claimed, “Ukrainian troops armed with NATO equipment have invaded the territory of the Kursk, Belgorod, and Bryansk oblasts at 4 AM today.”

The fraudulent broadcast continued, stating, “A state of war has been declared in the Kursk, Belgorod, and Bryansk oblasts by my decree. I will also sign a decree on universal mobilization today, as we need to unite all the forces of the Russian Federation to defeat this dangerous and cunning enemy.”

The fake address urged residents of the mentioned oblasts to evacuate deeper into Russian territory, obey local military administrations, and leave their homes in an orderly manner “to save lives and allow the Russian army to protect Russian land from Ukrainian Nazis.”

A video version of the fake was aired on the TV channel Mir (a recording of the broadcast was shared by Ukrainian media Censor), ranked sixth among all Russian channels for news consumption. Unknowns gained access to the airwaves of the Mir platform from 12:41 till 13:18, the company said, calling the message an “absolute fake and provocation.”

Russian regional authorities swiftly labeled the broadcast a hoax designed to incite panic among the population. Dmitry Peskov, Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, revealed that the Kremlin was aware of the radio and TV station hacks and that control had been restored.

Counteroffensive broadcast in occupied Crimea

A video by the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine was aired on several cable channels in Crimea, which is currently occupied by Russia. The video claimed that Ukraine will commence its counteroffensive without prior announcement.

Oleg Kriuchkov, advisor to the head of Crimea appointed by Russia, stated that the broadcast of several Crimean cable operators had been disrupted and signal interruptions were occurring, without specifying those responsible.

The Ukraine State Border Guard Service, in turn, claimed that several cable operators in Crimea disconnected the signal because of the hacking.

The Defense Ministry of Ukraine had earlier released a video urging for an information silence and stating that the offensive would begin without declaration. This was echoed by Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar on Sunday.

The Ukrainian video appeared on channels such as “Pyatnitsa” and “Rossiya”. The responsible party for the video’s broadcast in Crimea is still unknown.


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