Ukraine hacks into Russian media database

Ukrainian hacktivists have exposed what appears to be a Russian military propaganda website that cherry-picks Western media sources to make it look like the Kremlin’s war is going well.

Cyber Resistance volunteers handed over leaked documents from the hacked database to counter-disinformation outlet Inform Napalm, which claims the files were curated by Russian general Igor Konashenkov, whom it described as a propagandist and “walking meme.”

Accused by Inform Napalm of previously rattling off exaggerated war statistics, it would now appear from its latest bulletin that Konashenko has been putting together cherry-picked Western news snippets to promote a similar false narrative.

If true, his precise motive for doing so remains unclear – possibly the database is intended to boost morale among higher-ranking Russian military commanders, who have struggled to carry out the Kremlin’s military objectives in Ukraine since invading last year.

“Igor Konashenkov has long become a walking meme [...] he who day after day rattled out the phrase ‘there are no losses’ during the first weeks of the invasion and claimed thousands of destroyed Ukrainian tanks – more than Ukraine had before the invasion,” said Inform Napalm, announcing the leak on November 27th.

“But such a contrived parallel reality created by reports from the Russian Defense Ministry is not a figment of Konashenkov’s imagination alone,” it added. “The retrieved documentation makes it clear how removed from the real state of affairs the entire Information Department of the Russian Defense Ministry is.”

Inform Napalm claims that the Russian database Cyber Resistance hacktivists broke into presents Western and Russian reportage on the war in Ukraine in a skewed light, for instance, by portraying dozens of positive accounts of the conflict for every negative one.

Further to that aim, it ranks media reports as positive, negative, and neutral but curates the articles to make it look as though Russia’s military efforts are being praised more than they actually are, Inform Napalm claims.

It also points to grammatical errors in the database bulletins that might not be out of place in a poorly crafted phishing email, and the tone of Inform Napalm’s own coverage at times seemed to verge on the wryly amused.

“We wonder who proofreads all this, because at times the texts look really cringy,” said Inform Napalm. “It seems that Russian propagandists themselves do not read very closely into what they write. For example, they call their military personnel ‘military prisoners’ [e.g. “военнопленные” instead of “военнослужащие”].”

Cybernews verified the above translation using Google Translate.

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