aLast Wednesday, members of the Foreign Affairs Committee sat with anticipation in front of a screen in the Dutch Parliament. Leonid Volkov had asked them to conduct a “secret interview”. Volkov is the right-hand man of opposition politician Alexei Navalnig, who represents his interests from his exile in Lithuania. The video call lasted for half an hour. But there was something wrong. How were they going to help Navalnyj? He asked the caller, for example. Then he suggested: You can go for a hunger strike yourself or donate bitcoin!
Political correspondent for the European Union, NATO and the Benelux countries, based in Brussels.
Some deputies began to doubt whether this was really Volkov. Soon, Social Democrat Katy Perry searched for him on Google again, they had already been in touch before. She then said, “It can’t be true.” Her left-wing liberal colleague Chord Shordsma summed up his impression as follows: “The pictorial part was very persuasive, but the language did not match what Navalning’s staff would say.” At some point Volkov’s phone rang. The Dutch ambassador wanted to know if he had contacted the Foreign Affairs Committee. no he did not.
But this was also perhaps not a dice, but an optical illusion: the deepfakes. This is the name given to photos and videos whose content has been forged using artificial intelligence. Faces and even sounds are transferred to other bodies. There are even apps for it. Members of parliament could not see the real caller, but rather a computer-moving variable – Volkov’s face. And they weren’t the only ones who felt this way. Deepfake Volkov has been very active over the past few weeks. He also addressed the deputies of the three Baltic states, Ukraine and the United Kingdom. Amnesty International has also been contacted by the fake Volkov. Who’s Behind It: Joker – Or is it more serious?
Zygimantas Pavilionis, head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Lithuanian Parliament, described Volkov’s fake name on March 19. It was reported that during this conversation, the strange impression made by the first email from alleged Chief of Staff Navalnig was reinforced. In it, the fake Volkov asked for a meeting with the entire Foreign Affairs Committee. “A suggestion like this from someone I’ve only seen for a while seemed strange to me,” says Pavilionis. Plus, some formulas bothered him in the mail.
However, Pavilionis agreed to make a video call. “Before the meeting of the European Union foreign ministers on Russia, I was interested in the viewpoint of the Russian democrats,” he says. However, Volkov’s alleged photo disappeared from the screen right at the start of the conversation, allegedly due to technical problems. He avoided my questions about the status of Russian democrats. He was only interested in my contacts in the US Congress, and he wanted me to pass these contacts on to him. “
Then the fake Volkov sent an email to Pavilionis asking him to refer it to a member of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee. What is interesting about the text of this email is that the alleged Russian opposition member wanted to speak to the Americans about how to weaken Russia’s influence on Belarus. When this materializes, the message said, “We can change the system first in Belarus and then in Russia.” This aligns with the allegations of the so-called Western plans being circulated by both Minsk and Moscow.
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