Much remains unclear about the conversation that Dutch lawmakers had on Wednesday with someone apparently pretending to be Leonid Volkov, a high-ranking employee of Russia’s opposition leader Navalny. Navalny is in a Russian penal camp and was on hunger strike until yesterday to protest his treatment and lack of medical care.
Volkov himself says that two Russian “scammers” are pretending to be using deepfakes. This technology allows you to replace one face in a video (call) with another face. This way you can make someone say anything. But it is difficult to determine whether this technology has actually been used here. The House of Representatives itself does not confirm this.
One of the participants in Wednesday’s conversation was D66 MP Shord Shordsma. He says he soon realized something was wrong, and according to him, many of the other MPs were not taking the conversation seriously. Talking about a strange event.
If it had been an attempt to discredit Navalny, it would have failed, according to Shordsma. He believes that these types of digital encounters should be better verified in advance.
VVD MP Robin Brickelmans says of The Conversation, he doubts whether he’s such a high-profile person. He did not think that the answers of the Russian interlocutor were so strong. According to Brickelmans, the photo could not show that it might have been a fake.
He doesn’t want to say anything about the content: “This was a secret chat and we want to keep it some more.” The State Department does not want to respond to the incident.
The well-known Russian duo
According to Navalny Volkov’s employee, the fake conversation is the work of Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexei Stolyarov, known as “Fofan” and “Lexus”. This duo is known in Russia with the mockery of the Kremlin’s opponents and world leaders.
“In 2014, this duo became popular in Russia when they played a trick with representatives of the Ukrainian political elite, including then-president Poroshenko. But also former Soviet leader Gorbachev, Turkish President Erdogan, singer Elton John, and others.” Russia correspondent Iris de Graf said. “The duo is fooled.”
But Volkov doesn’t see these Vofan and Lexus as funny Jokers at all. Volkov called the duo “employees of the presidential administration who run propaganda campaigns to sow suspicion.” Navalny’s anti-corruption organization desperately needs contacts in Europe, but according to Volkov, European politicians are now less likely to heed the calls of Volkov and Navalny.
The independent Russian newspaper the Moscow Times had previously written that “the level of access to prominent figures – as well as the lack of interference by Russian security forces – indicates that the two are operating under an” arrangement “with the Kremlin.” The duo themselves deny this.
More than ten attempts were intercepted
Vofan and Lexus have been targeting Leonid Volkov for longer and more often. In a Facebook post, Volkov wrote that he knows about ten failed attempts, during which the duo sought to reach out to influential people and organizations on his behalf.
In these 10 cases, the other party became suspicious and decided to verify the request. According to Volkov, “He can only guess how many times they’ve tried. Dozens? Hundreds?” He writes on Facebook. Sure enough, politicians from several European countries have witnessed this recently.
Deepfake or not?
It is not clear whether the Dutch MPs did speak with deep tradition, as Volkov suggests, or with a semblance of “normal”. No recording of the conversation has appeared online yet and as long as it hasn’t been, according to Professor Theo Jeffers. Computer vision At the University of Amsterdam, not to say. Gevers are an authority on deepfakes.