Dutch media is reporting that politicians from the Netherlands, Latvia, Estonia, and Britain were tricked into holding video calls with someone using deepfake technology to impersonate the chief of staff of Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny. According to a Volkskrant article:
April, 24, 2021 Dutch parliamentarians on Wednesday held a video conversation with a fake version of the chief of staff of the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. A deepfake, says this chief of staff himself. Are deepfakes really that good these days? And above all: are we sure it is a deepfake? What is going on? “Welcome to the deepfake era,” Leonid Volkov, the right-hand man of opposition leader Navalny, said in a Facebook statement. Several European politicians have recently had conversations with a fake version of him — Volkov sees no difference with his own face. His fake version showed up in a Zoom meeting with politicians from the Baltic States and the United Kingdom. After that it became clear to the Dutch MPs that it was also faked. The conversation was held “with someone posing as him”, the Chamber Registry told De Volkskrant on Friday. The Parliamentary Commission of the Baltic States, like Volkov, is convinced that the fake Volkov is not a person of flesh and blood, but is manufactured by artificial intelligence. So a deepfake. The Latvian TV channel LTV, which had a Zoom interview with “Volkov”, also came to that conclusion. [Translated with Google Translate]
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Deepfakes use a form of artificial intelligence called deep learning to make images of fake events in which a person in an existing image or video is replaced with someone else’s likeness.
Recent Global Influence Operations Report coverage of Russian disinformation campaigns targeting Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny has included:
- In March, we reported that NATO had been targeted with false narratives about protests in Russia related to the arrest of opposition figure Navalny.
- In March, we reported that the Kremlin had launched a propaganda campaign to undermine Western solidarity with Navalny utilizing Russian and Western left-wing commentators.
- In November, we reported that some of the most popular coverage of Navalny’s poisoning story in Germany came from Kremlin-funded outlets which questioned Berlin’s efforts to blame Moscow for the attack.