The apparent hack, targeting ordinary Russians sitting in front of their TVs or searching their search engines for information, pierced the pro-Moscow message as Russia marks Victory Day, a commemoration of the Soviet Union’s role in the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.
As Russia intensified its attacks in southern and eastern Ukraine, thousands of Russian troops gathered in Moscow’s Red Square for a military parade, where President Vladimir Putin gave a speech doubling down on his invasion of Ukraine and accusing NATO and Western countries without proof of provoking Russia.
On Victory Day, Putin defends the war against Ukraine as a fight against the “Nazis”
The anti-war message that appeared on the screens of Russian smart TV users also appeared on the platforms of Yandex, the Russian IT giant which, like Google, brings together many products under its umbrella, including a search engine and a service providing television program schedules. On this page, the daily programs of the public channels Channel One and Russia 1 were also erased early on Monday.
YouTube’s Russian equivalent, called RuTube, was also affected, it said in a statement.
“After the sites of various Russian ministries, which have been constantly under cyberattacks over the past two months, hackers have reached RUTUBE,” RuTube said on its official Telegram channel. “Our video hosting suffered a powerful cyberattack. At the moment it is not possible to access the platform.
The streaming platform later said it had “located the incident” and was working to restore normal service, and that the apparent hackers were unable to access its content library.
“Specialists have located the incident and work is currently underway to ensure safety,” RuTube said. “We will announce when the video service will be restored in the near future.”
“RUTUBE confirms that third parties were unable to access the video archive,” he said. “The entire library, including user content, is always stored on the service.”
Russian government websites and state-run media have faced what the government has called an “unprecedented” wave of hacking attacks since the Kremlin launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24. . In mid-March, the Russian Ministry of Digital Development and Communications said the attacks were at least twice as powerful as previous ones, prompting the agency to adopt unspecified measures to protect services.
Russian government websites face ‘unprecedented’ wave of hacking attacks, ministry says
Russian officials also appear to be taking digital action on their own, even within their country.
Articles with headlines condemning the invasion appeared on the front page of Russian news site Lenta.ru early Monday.
Each article published by Lenta carried the disclaimer that the material had “not been agreed with the editorial management” and that “the Presidential Administration will punish the publication for publishing this”.
“In other words,” he said, “take a screenshot of this now, before it gets deleted.”
The stories – with hard-hitting titles such as “Vladimir Putin has become a pitiful, paranoid, paranoid dictator” and “Russia abandons the corpses of its soldiers in Ukraine” – were quickly deleted.
Such statements would most likely be banned in Russia under a law passed this year that prohibits any attempt to discredit Russian forces and their actions in Ukraine. Free speech advocates say the law is a way for the Russian government to control the narrative around the war. It prohibits anyone from calling events in Ukraine – which Putin calls a “special military operation” to “denazify” the country – an “invasion”.
In Putin’s Russia, ‘fake news’ now means real news
Yegor Polyakov, editor of Lenta, claimed joint responsibility for the anti-war material and said he and his colleague Alexandra Miroshnikova had made a “conscious decision” to oppose the war.
“It’s not a ‘hack by hackers’ at all, it’s our conscious decision, which was made relatively long ago, but it was not possible to implement it quickly (I don’t I won’t say yet for what reasons),” he said. in a statement provided to Russian media outlet Mediazona.
Polyakov said that there was almost no independent media in Russia anymore and called on “potential critics in the professional environment and not just not to forget about humanism and not to put labels on everything world at once”.
He said that he and Miroshnikova “no longer work in Lenta”.