After Navalny’s death, hackers steal and publish Russian prisoner database


Anti-Kremlin hackers breached a computer network tied to Russia’s sprawling prison system and stole a database containing information on hundreds of thousands of prisoners.

The stolen data also includes information on the prisoners’ relatives and contacts and data on prisoners held in the Arctic penal colony where Russia’s top opposition politician, Alexey Navalny, died on February 16th.

First, though, the hackers published a photo of Navalny on the breached prison contractor’s website, they told CNN exclusively.

A message over the photo of Navalny and his wife Yulia said: “Long live Alexey Navalny! He loved Russia. He fought for a better Russia – a country without corruption and thieves.”

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Hackers pposted a photo of Alexey Navalny and his wife Yulia on the breached prison contractor's website. Courtesy of CNN.

The hackers told CNN they include Russian expats and Ukrainians. They are allegedly publishing the stolen database in the hope that someone might contact them and help them understand what actually happened to Navalny.

In total, the database contains information on around 800,00 prisoners and their relatives and contacts. CNN said it was able to match some of the names in screenshots provided by the hackers with people who, according to public records, are indeed serving time in Russian prison.

Finally, the hackers changed the prices on the Russian prison system’s online commissary where family members buy food for inmates. They made things like noodles and canned beef cost one ruble ($0.01), although these products normally cost over $1.

One of the hackers told CNN that it took several hours for the online shop administrator to see that people were buying food for pennies. JSC Kaluzhskoe, the online prison shop, said a few days later that it had experienced a “technical failure.”

Navalny died in mysterious circumstances at a prison 1,200 miles northeast of Moscow. His mother was told that he had died from “sudden death syndrome” – this is an umbrella term for different cardiac syndromes that cause cardiac arrest.

The US and other Western countries say they hold the Kremlin responsible, though. Navalny, who was 47 at the time of his death, was imprisoned in January 2021, right after he returned to Russia from Germany, where he was hospitalized after being poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent.

Politically motivated hacktivism has been rampant since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Hacktivist groups typically target institutions or organizations that don’t align with their ideological or political agenda.


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