The Kremlin is well-known for using cyberattacks to steal information, spread disinformation, and influence important issues, such as the outcome of a presidential race in the United States in 2016. On Victory Day, a celebration meant to honor the defeat of the Nazi army in World War II, Vladimir Putin intended to flex his muscles publicly and display a show of might. For many viewers of Russian state TV, that wasn’t what they saw.
This morning the online Russian TV schedule page was hacked
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
— Francis Scarr (@francis_scarr) May 9, 2022
74 days into his attack on Ukraine, a battle many believed would end within a matter of days, Putin addressed the people of Ukraine while military weapons were paraded in front of a crowd. There has been no victory for the Russian military in Ukraine.
On Russian state television, which should have been airing Putin’s speech and supporting his message, hackers took over the screens in homes across Russia with a message of their own.
According to The Daily Beast:
‘Russians hoping to catch their leader on state television were instead greeted with the replacement of every single program with a rare message of truth: “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.” The hack—reported by BBC and other media—was quickly remedied, but undoubtedly dampened the spirits of Putin supporters hoping to keep quell the reality of the bloodshed.’
U.S. and Ukrainian officials warned Putin would declare war or kick off a massive mobilization of Russian troops this Victory Day—instead, Russian TVs got hacked with this message: "On your hands is the blood of thousands of Ukrainians."@thedailybeast https://t.co/qSxzCVOKbg
— Shannon Vavra (@shanvav) May 9, 2022
Putin, just as ex-U.S. President Donald Trump liked to do, used his public rally as a cover for his failures in Ukraine, spinning his own narrative and making it public. Just as Trump did, Putin used this opportunity to gain strength within his own base of loyal supporters, no longer focused on maintaining the widespread support of all Russians.
‘Many of his pronouncements, including that NATO had “surrounded” Russia and was planning to invade the “motherland,” were not only falsehoods but farcical. “President Putin has made a number of fairytale claims for months and years now… If it wasn’t so tragic, it would be amusing, but it isn’t,” U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said, according to the BBC. “One of his claims is that he is surrounded. NATO accounts for 6 percent of his land border. That’s not being surrounded if only 6 percent of your land border is NATO countries.”’
Amidst displays in other cities of Russian strength and victory with parades and cheers on Victory Day, the town of Odessa was bombed by the Russian military. In recent weeks, Mariupol has continued to be bombarded with attacks, and Russian soldiers there lit an eternal flame as a war memorial on Victory Day.
Mayoral assistant in Mariupol, Petro Andriushchenko, wrote on Telegram:
‘The grotesque combination of the traditions of the Olympics and the Ascension of the Blessed Fire at Easter is the best demonstration of the essence of Victory Day for Russians. The occupiers celebrate Victory Day on the bones of Mariupol residents.’
NEWS: A brave protester interrupted an evening broadcast on Russian state TV with a sign blasting Putin’s murder mission in Ukraine.
“Stop the war. No to war.” the woman shouted as she held a sign reading, “Don’t believe propaganda. They’re lying to you.”pic.twitter.com/cYK5xz0Ckv
— Lmauricé Inc. (@VoLinxx) March 14, 2022