Anonymous hacked streaming services and TV news channels in Russia to broadcast footage of the country’s war with Ukraine amid a heavy clampdown on information by Vladimir Putin’s government, according to reports.
Early on Monday, the hacking group, which identifies itself as activists from around the world, posted that it was involved in the “biggest Anonymous op ever seen” of hacking Russian news channels like Russia 24, Channel One, and Moscow 24, including streaming sites, to show footage of Russia’s actions in Ukraine as the invasion entered the 12th day.
“The hacking collective #Anonymous hacked into the Russian streaming services Wink and Ivi (like Netflix) and live TV channels Russia 24, Channel One, Moscow 24 to broadcast war footage from Ukraine [today],” it announced on Twitter with video footage.
The footage showed a message at the end, stating that “ordinary Russians are against the war” and called for Russians to oppose the attack on Ukraine.
Kyiv Independent, a Ukrainian news organisation, confirmed the hacking.
Soon after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, the collective of hackers claimed to be in a “cyber war against the Russian government”. The group has taken responsibility for several cyberattacks, including shutting down the Kremlin’s official website on 26 February.
The group’s targets in the past have included the CIA, the Church of Scientology, and the Islamic State.
The latest move of targeting Russian news services came after it raised alarm on Twitter for the “need to keep the Russian people connected to the global community” in response to Russia’s active clampdown against information on the Ukraine invasion.
The Russian government has intensified censorship since the war began, stifling coverage by blocking access to Facebook and major foreign news outlets and arresting hundreds of activists who protested against the invasion.
Over the weekend, Tiktok and Netflix suspended parts of their service in Russia in response to Russia’s new “fake news” law.
The law, which was approved on Friday by the lower chamber of Russia’s parliament, threatens those who publish what authorities deem to be false information about the country’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. It says anyone found guilty of disseminating false information and data about the use of Russia’s armed forces would be punished with a prison sentence of up to 15 years or a fine of up to 1.5m rubles (£10,700).
Following the move, several news organizations working out of Russia such as CNN, BBC, and Bloomberg News, have begun to weigh their options, including suspending their operations in the country.
Some organizations are reportedly limiting the use of their reporters’ bylines, or adhering to Russia’s description of its actions in Ukraine as a “special military operation”, or a “peace-keeping mission”.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.