Russian man charged for hacked Christmas lights displaying “Glory to Ukraine”

A citizen of Veliky Novgorod in Russia was too late to find out that his new shiny Christmas display showed the “Slava Ukraini” slogan, which means Glory to Ukraine, instead of “Happy New Year.” Now, the Russian faces charges for discrediting the Armed Forces from his balcony, and his lights were confiscated.

The hard-to-believe story is actually true. A resident of Veliky Novgorod faces accusations of discrediting the Russian military because of a hacked Christmas display displaying the phrase “Glory to Ukraine.”

Videos capturing the illuminated balcony quickly spread across various social media platforms. However, the neighbors were not that impressed and reported the incident to the police. writes that some neighbors of Andrey even called the FSB, the principal security agency of Russia, and Novgorod residents on social media called for the family to be “burned” and “shot.”

Veliky Novgorod police patrol drew up a protocol for discrediting the Russian Armed Forces with a slogan displayed on the balcony of an apartment, the Russian news agency Tass reported.

“A report was received, <...> a patrol was sent to the scene, the owners of the apartment where the garland was displayed were identified. On it, a slogan praising the Armed Forces of Ukraine was being broadcast. The garland was confiscated,” Tass’s source said.

The owner of the apartment claimed to the police that the display was controlled via Wi-Fi networks and was supposed to display a different message, a New Year’s greeting. The smart lights rebelled against the wishes of their owner.

The Russian is accused of violating the Administrative Code under the section for “Public actions aimed at discrediting the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation,” for which can get both a fine and a criminal offense. The case will be considered in court.

According to Baza, an independent online news agency, the inscription changed suddenly, at midnight, and a new slogan appeared. It belonged to 43-year-old Andrey, who bought the do-it-yourself installation after seeing it on a popular YouTube channel.

“Andrey separately ordered a microcontroller and an LED strip from Ali Express and then downloaded the firmware, and the inscription “Happy New Year!” shone on the balcony of his apartment. And exactly at midnight, a slogan in Ukrainian appeared. The media wrote that the device may have been hacked via Wi-Fi,” Baza writes.

According to multiple sources, several other people from different cities in Russia complained about the same issue.

It’s likely that the firmware for the lights was modified and shared by hackers to arrange provocations.

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