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Deepfaking The Russian Opposition: How Baltic Journalists And Politicians Were Fooled

Russia’s Ruse? A ‘Deepfake’ Leonid Volkov Contacts Baltic Media, Politicians
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Russia’s Ruse? A ‘Deepfake’ Leonid Volkov Contacts Baltic Media, Politicians

The face and voice of 40-year-old Leonid Volkov, a close colleague of jailed Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, have been apparently cloned for a deepfake operation that some European and British politicians suspect was masterminded by Moscow.

From Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to the Netherlands and United Kingdom, a pseudo-Volkov has appeared recently in video conversations with politicians interested in learning more about Russia’s human-rights situation and reported repressions of Navalny’s supporters.

Volkov has speculated that a set of Russian digital pranksters, Vladimir Kuznetsov (Vovan) and Aleksei Stolyarov (Lexus), known for targeting politicians critical of the Kremlin, are behind the deception, but Stolyarov told The Guardian that he had not used any filter to portray Volkov on a Zoom call.

Duped politicians have expressed outrage at the ruse, but more sophisticated impersonations could soon be in store, warns one Latvian software developer.

Footage Vs. Footage reported on how this deepfake operation has affected media and politicians in the critical information battlefield of the Baltics.