Skip to Content

The real and the deepfake Volkov. Image via Twitter

Deepfake interview with Navalny’s aid may be ploy to stay relevant

Last week, an image claiming to be Leonid Volkov, a relative of Russian opponent Alexei Navalny, contacted Dutch MPs via an online meeting. 

Published: April 27, 2021, 10:28 am

    Read more

    The Hague

    Navalny’s detention in Russia has not been a hot topic in the mainstream media, especially after it became known that he had described Muslims as “cockroaches”. For that reason the “dissident” has been desperate for attention. The deepfake interview with his aid may have been Navalny’s latest attempt to stay relevant.

    “MPs meet hyper-rigged imitation of the chief of staff of the Russian opponent Navalny’s team,” headlined the Dutch daily De Volkskrant, the first to reveal the information. According to the newspaper, which claims to have obtained confirmation from the lower house of parliament in The Hague, Dutch parliamentarians were faced with a deepfake during an online meeting. A similar incident had occurred with Baltic and British colleagues.

    A group of Estonian MPs and Tom Tugendhat, chair of the UK parliament’s foreign affairs select committee, were recently tricked into believing they were speaking to Volkov while he was visiting Lithuania. “The Standing Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs thought it was meeting with Volkov, who was based in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius because of the political situation…”

    A deepfake is a fake video in which the face of one person is replaced by that of another person. “After having started normally, the conversation became very bizarre, said the Dutch parliamentarians duped during a video conference with Russia,” continued De Volkskrant.

    The real aid to Navalny quickly blamed the Kremlin. Volkov told Dutch public broadcaster NOS that a group of MPs took part in a Zoom conference with a man whom they believed to be Leonid Volkov, the chief of staff for the jailed Russian opposition leader, last week.

    In fact they were talking to an impersonator using image manipulation passing off as Volkov. Some Dutch media reported that the MPs had been humoured by Russian “pranksters” but the real Volkov maintained that the technique was a deliberate ploy by President Vladimir Putin to “discredit European politicians”. But those responsible for the hoax, could at least count on the participants not carrying out the most basic checks such as contacting Volkov on social media or looking up his email address online.

    “We call them pranksters, but we’re talking about well-paid employees of the Russian government,” the actual Volkov raged during his interview with NOS. The interview had to be monitored by a deepfake expert to verify that the person NOS was speaking to was in fact the real Volkov.

    Even though he had no proof for his claims, Volkov warned European politicians that the Kremlin was abusing their trust: “Zoom has been a lifeline during the pandemic, but the Kremlin is using it as a weapon.”

    There are however a number of easy techniques to help unmask a deepfake, such as asking an interviewee to touch and pull at their face or turn round to show the back of their head.

    Consider donating to support our work

    Help us to produce more articles like this. FreeWestMedia is depending on donations from our readers to keep going. With your help, we expose the mainstream fake news agenda.

    Keep ​your language polite​. Readers from many different countries visit and contribute to Free West Media and we must therefore obey the rules in​,​ for example​, ​Germany. Illegal content will be deleted.

    If you have been approved to post comments without preview from FWM, you are responsible for violation​s​ of​ any​ law. This means that FWM may be forced to cooperate with authorities in a possible crime investigation.

    If your comments are subject to preview ​by FWM, please be patient. We continually review comments but depending on the time of day it can take up to several hours before your comment is reviewed.

    We reserve the right to del​ete​ comments that are offensive, contain slander or foul language, or are irrelevant to the discussion.

    Europe

    In Hungary there are more vaccines than people wanting them

    BudapestAt the end of April, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced that there were now more vaccines available than people wanting them. Hungary is the only such state in Europe.

    Another jihadist deemed ‘criminally irresponsible’ for professor’s murder

    ParisA former student, of Pakistani origin, had fatally stabbed this teacher in front of the Leonardo da Vinci university in the suburbs of the city of Paris in December 2018.

    Swiss town finds new solution against beggars

    BaselThe city of Basel offers a travel voucher to beggars who, in exchange, undertake not to return to the city for at least a certain period of time under penalty of permanent expulsion from the country.

    Rambouillet terrorist was regularized without any scrutiny

    RambouilletIn the wake of the murder of Samuel Paty, the Tunisian jihadist involved in the Rambouillet beheading wrote on Facebook: “O Muslims, now we will respond to the insults from France.” Two months later, he obtained his residence permit.

    Isaac Newton becomes the latest victim of ‘decolonisation’

    SheffieldSir Isaac Newton's historical legacy amounts to “colonial-era activity” and must be scrapped to “decolonise” the engineering curriculum at Sheffield University in the UK.

    Left-wing German politician exposed as possible link to hammer gang

    KasselWith its special edition “Antifa - The underground leftist power”, COMPACT, a conservative German magazine has stirred up a hornets' nest. A left-wing politician even wants to have journalistic research banned.

    Nigerian mafia groups have infiltrated Germany

    BerlinA confidential report by the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND), revealed how the Nigerian mafia has taken root to establish itself in Germany through the influx of migrants. There are now several different Mafia groups operating in Germany.

    Is Pfizer immune to competition?

    BrusselsWith the dominant position the EU has granted to Pfizer, in particular by ruling out the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, it is once again proving that its rules are of variable geometry because European treaties outlaw monopolies.

    The Sarah Halimi affair: Killing the victim twice

    ParisThe lack of commitment on the left in the Sarah Halimi affair in France, has deeply shocked many. The murderer of Sarah Halimi, Kobili Traoré, will not be tried for his crime, according to his judges. But the victim is also being killed for a second time by silence.

    Challenges for the Arctic

    MoscowThe Arctic region is facing demographic decline and climate challenges and beyond that, economic value creation through Arctic technologies and innovations which are dependent on a transforming geopolitical context.

    Go to archive