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Politics Pranksters trick Canadian lawmakers with fake Navalny aide: report

00:35  05 may  2021
00:35  05 may  2021 Source:   thehill.com

October 2020: Alexey Navalny describes being poisoned

  October 2020: Alexey Navalny describes being poisoned In a report that originally aired last October, the Russian opposition leader tells Lesley Stahl about what he went through after falling ill on an airplane in August 2020 and why he won't let it stop him from the work he's doing against Russian President Vladimir Putin.Last month, President Biden announced new sanctions against Russia for incarcerating Navalny, who has become an international symbol of freedom in an increasingly autocratic country.

European lawmakers said this week that a deepfake of a prominent Russian opposition figure had spoken to them via video calls. Latvian member of parliament Rihards Kols posted back-to-back images of the real opposition figure Leonid Volkov and a hyper-realistic fake Volkov that he said had “Nothing made me think that we were meeting a fake Volkov [until] Ukrainian colleagues recently reported their own meeting with the fake Volkov,” he wrote on Facebook on Thursday. Tom Tugendhat, who heads the British parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said that he also fell victim to the fake meeting with

Navalny ’s aide Leonid Volkov wrote on social media that the pranksters had tried using his name to organize a conference call with a key European security body. In February, they posed as Volkov in a call with Amnesty International to discuss the human rights group’s removal of Navalny ’s “prisoner of conscience” status because of past nationalist rhetoric. Amnesty’s acting head Julie Verhaar, who participated in the call, was replaced last week. Volkov said the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly sent him an email saying: “We were

Russian pranksters impersonating opposition leader Alexei Navalny's chief of staff successfully convinced the Canadian House of Commons foreign affairs committee that they were the real thing, according to a Tuesday report.

Alexei Navalny et al. looking at the camera: Pranksters trick Canadian lawmakers with fake Navalny aide: report © Getty Images Pranksters trick Canadian lawmakers with fake Navalny aide: report

Vice News reported that Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexei Stolyarov posed as Leonid Volkov during an April 22 virtual meeting with the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development to discuss Navalny's predicament.

The meeting, which was conducted "in camera," was not broadcast at the time and members were prohibited from speaking about the details of it once they left the committee room. During the meeting, the Canadian officials called on a person described as "witness 1," who was supposed to be Volkov but was played by Kuznetsov and Stolyarov instead, according to Vice.

Russia Blacklists Alexei Navalny's Network as Terror Organization, Cutting Off Bank Accounts

  Russia Blacklists Alexei Navalny's Network as Terror Organization, Cutting Off Bank Accounts Prosecutors in Moscow are now seeking to have Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation, labeled as an "extremist" organization, which would fully ban the network's 50 regional headquarters from operating, and put members and supporters at risk of criminal prosecution. Earlier this week, a Moscow court ordered Navalny's organizations to halt all public activity pending a final ruling in that case, which is expected to take place next month. In light of that development, Navalny's associates moved to formally disband the network on Thursday, citing a growing impossibility to work.

A group of Russian lawmakers have submitted a draft law to the State Duma on banning people connected to outlawed “extremist organizations” from running for parliament. Commenting on the bill on Twitter, Alexey Navalny ’s chief of staff, Leonid Volkov, wrote that the proposed legislation threatens anyone who worked for “Team Navalny ” or made donations to organizations associated with the opposition politician. “We have already seen an array of ‘ laws against Navalny ’ but never THIS, of course.

Posing as Navalny ’s chief of staff in video calls, the pranksters managed to speak with parliamentarians in Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, as well as British politician Tom Tugendhat . Latvian officials agreed and met virtually with the Volkov deepfake on March 23. A few days earlier, it turns out, the phony Volkov also spoke to Estonian lawmakers . Kols says he suspects that the Saeima’s press officers connected LTV with the pranksters , not realizing that they were facilitating further fraud.

Meeting minutes obtained by the outlet revealed that the ruse went on for nearly 25 minutes.

Kuznetsov and Stolyarov confirmed with the outlet that they had impersonated Volkov and provided screenshots from the meeting. They did not specify why they chose to prank the Canadian officials but said that the video will be available on their YouTube channel.

"I would not like to comment on this in detail before publishing the prank," Kuznetsov told the outlet in an email. "In general, we wanted to make...video pranks with the largest number of deputies around the world. Because now video meetings are very popular."

Canada's House of Commons foreign affairs committee is reportedly set to have a meeting with the real Volkov this week, but decline to share with Vice any details from the April incident.

Kuznetsov denied that the prank had any connection to Russian President Vladimir Putin, of whom Navalny has been sharply critical, telling the outlet that it was "just for fun."

The pair of Russian pranksters have posed as Western politicians in the past and last year they convinced Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's office that they were teen climate activist Greta Thunberg, Vice reported.

Navalny, who survived an attempted poisoning last year, recently ended a hunger strike protesting his ongoing detention in Russia over what he calls trumped-up charges.

Russia bans Navalny's political network by labeling it an 'extremist' group and arrests his lawyer in Moscow .
Taken together, these moves represent a remarkable crackdown on dissent by Russian President Vladimir Putin.The move puts the network, which has primarily focused on investigating and exposing corruption, on a list alongside groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda. It also means the network's bank accounts can be blocked, the Times said. The network disbanded on Thursday ahead of an expected court ruling that would also dub it an extremist organization and prohibit the group's operations.

usr: 1
This is interesting!