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SBU detains Kyiv residents suspected of spreading pro-Russian disinformation via fake accounts of Budanov, Maliuk

by Martin Fornusek April 30, 2024 3:02 PM 2 min read
The SBU detains suspected hackers suspected of running pro-Russian bot farms from Kyiv. Photo published on April 30, 2024. (SBU/Telegram)
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The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) detained two people in Kyiv suspected of creating fake accounts of Ukrainian security services as part of a Russian disinformation campaign, the SBU's press service said on April 30.

Russia is notorious for using disinformation and propaganda to undermine its rivals, and these efforts have only escalated since the outbreak of the full-scale war against Ukraine.

The two suspects were allegedly spreading false claims about the Russian full-scale war against Ukraine in order to discredit the Ukrainian defense and security forces.

The detainees created fake social media and messenger accounts of SBU chief Vasyl Maliuk and military intelligence (HUR) head Kyrylo Budanov for this purpose, the SBU said.

To add credibility, they often reposted actual posts from the SBU and military intelligence official accounts. In private messages, the suspected perpetrators extorted money from people in exchange for their "assistance," the SBU reported.

The suspects also allegedly created more than 1,000 fake Ukrainian accounts every day on Facebook, X, Instagram, VKontakte, and Odnoklassniki social platforms, effectively running a pro-Russian bot farm.

According to Ukraine's Security Service, the detainees received instructions from members of Russian intelligence services.

"In this way, the enemy sought to destabilize the socio-political situation in Ukraine and discredit us internationally," the SBU said.

Searches of the suspects uncovered specialized IT equipment and unregistered firearms and grenades.

Both face up to seven years in prison.

In March, the SBU busted a suspected pro-Russian disinformation group that was supposedly linked to members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.

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