'Leonid Volkov' deepfake video calls

Occurred: April 2021

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Senior EU and UK politicians and officials appear to have been targeted by a campaign in which bad actors used deepfake technology to pretend to be Russian opposition leaders.

The attack took the form of video calls involving an imposter claiming to be Leonid Volkov, chief of staff to Alexy Navalny, in which the Russia's annexation of Crimea was discussed. The identity and motivation of the actors remains unclear, though Volkov told The Guardian that it may have been an attempt to discredit Russian opposition head Navalny.

Among those targeted included Tom Tugendhat, then chair of the UK's foreign affairs select committee, chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the Estonian parliament Marko Mihkelson, Rihards Kols, chairman of the Latvian parliament's foreign affairs committee, and the Dutch parliament's foreign affairs committee.

Operator: Government of Russia
Developer: Government of Russia

Country: Estonia; Latvia; Lithuania; Netherlands; UK

Sector: Politics

Purpose: Damage reputation

Technology: Deepfake - image; Generative adversarial network (GAN); Neural network; Deep learning; Machine learning  
Issue: Mis/disinformation; Ethics

Transparency: Governance; Marketing

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