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.


    New Austrian conservative strongman calls into question arbitrary Corona rules

    ViennaFormer Austrian Interior Minister Herbert Kickl (FPÖ) is considered the new strong man in his party, slated to take over the leadership soon. In an interview translated from ZUERST! Kickl explains how he wants to bring the FPÖ back to being the top party.

    Swede gets kicked in the head by immigrant gang but media conceals the facts

    SkövdeAt Vasaskolan in Skövde, a brutal assault occurred in May, when a student received blows and kicks to the head by seven attackers. In the local media, important facts were concealed: The abuse is part of an increasingly tense ethnic conflict between Swedish young people and immigrants from Skövde's ghetto Södra Ryd.

    Macron slapped in the face: ‘He got what he deserved’

    ParisCNews star Eric Zemmour commented on the slap received by French President Emmanuel Macron on June 8, 2021. While condemning the slap given to Macron, the journalist and columnist considered that the President of the Republic "got what he deserved" because Macron "himself has desecrated the function".

    Macron slapped in the face by royalist

    Tain-l'HermitageDamien Tarel, presumed author of the aggression against the French president, and Arthur C. were arrested by the gendarmes of the Surveillance and Intervention Platoon of the Gendarmerie (PSIG) of Valence. They were presented, according to one source, as “yellow vests”, a fact which was denied by the public prosecutor.

    Alarming number of bankruptcies due to lock-down in Germany

    BerlinAlice Weidel, the co-leader of the AfD noted the alarming number of people who have filed for personal bankruptcy since the Corona pandemic began.

    Illiteracy three times higher in France’s overseas territories

    ParisThe French National Assembly's overseas delegation published an information report on education in Guadeloupe, Martinique and Reunion. While it noted some improvements, the report mainly pointed out dysfunctional... buildings.

    Flemish activists receive prison sentences for ‘Stop Islamization’ banner

    Antwerp Four members of the conservative group Voorpost were sentenced for inciting hate and violence because of a banner announcing “Stop Islamization”. This is the latest attack on Flemish conservatives from a hostile Belgian elite ahead of the election.

    German reparation agreement with Namibia rejected by tribal chiefs

    WindhoekThe planned agreement between the German government and Namibia reparations is in danger of falling apart. Namibia generously accepted an official apology from German President Steinmeier, but rejected the amount of 1,1 billion euros. Instead, they want 477 billion euros.

    Drug trade boosts Sweden’s GDP

    StockholmLinda H Staaf, head of the Swedish police's national operational department, NOA, says that the police are not surprised by the enormous scope of the drug trade. But Sweden's Interior Minister Mikael Damberg claims he is very surprised. 

    Number of attacks on public transport rises to a record high in Berlin, Marseille

    The number of sexual offenses in Berlin reached a new high in 2020. Some 4 468 people have been victims of a sexual offense, according to a response to a parliamentary question by MP Marcel Luthe (Free Voters). A leaked study from the south of France, showed a similar rise.

    Go to archive