Russian citizens who turned on their televisions this morning might have been a bit surprised by what they saw. Expecting to see coverage of the country's Victory Day parade—a celebration of the Soviet Union's defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945—they saw something quite different.
Hackers were able to display several anti-war messages across major Russian TV networks, including Channel One, Rossiya-1, and NTV-Plus, according to BBC News.
On the Russian TV schedule, every channel was changed to say, "On your hands is the blood of thousands of Ukrainians and their hundreds of murdered children. TV and the authorities are lying. No to war."
BBC reporter Francis Scarr shared a video of the page on Twitter:
This morning the online Russian TV schedule page was hacked— Francis Scarr (@francis_scarr) May 9, 2022
The name of every programme was changed to "On your hands is the blood of thousands of Ukrainians and their hundreds of murdered children. TV and the authorities are lying. No to war" pic.twitter.com/P2uCNz8cqa
There were also reports that similar messaging was posted on the website of the pro-government Russian publication Lenta, but by two members of its own staff. The messages, which have since been deleted, read like this:
- "Vladimir Putin has turned into a pitiful dictator and paranoiac"
- "Russian authorities have banned journalists from talking about the negative"
- "Russia threatens to destroy the whole world"
- "War makes it easier to cover up economic failures"
- "Zelensky turned out to be cooler than Putin"
While it is unclear who was behind the cyber incident, the hacking collective Anonymous quoted Scarr's tweet with the simple words, "Good Morning Moscow." Anonymous had previously declared war on Russia for its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Since then, the group has targeted Russian media and government websites, and has encouraged anyone with hacking capabilities to join them in their fight against Russia.
Russian citizens have, unfortunately, been living under a media blackout, as the Kremlin essentially controls all media messaging related to Ukraine. The recent messages from hackers directly counter Putin's narrative on the conflict, which has been that Russia is trying to "liberate" citizens in Ukraine.
Hopefully, cyberwar can gradually help turn the tides of the war.
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