A fake speech by Vladimir Putin declaring martial law and general mobilization in response to the Ukrainian attacks was broadcast on Russian television and radio.
The reported hack across Russia appeared to be timed for what Russian military observers described as the start of the much-anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive.
Videos from across Russia posted to social media on Monday showed what appeared to be a digitally altered image of Putin moving his lips to sync up with the fake address.
Standing next to a Russian flag, the president was seen declaring martial law in three border regions and announcing that he would soon sign a decree announcing general mobilization.
“We must muster all Russian efforts to defeat the dangerous and insidious enemy,” he said.
“I’m at a loss for words”
The widely circulated address prompted Russian officials to issue swift denials as authorities in Voronezh and Belgorod accused anonymous hackers of trying to “sow panic” in border areas.
A Kremlin spokesman admitted on Monday that the radio waves had been hacked.
“Everything has been fixed and brought under control,” he told Russian news agencies, adding that an investigation has been opened into the hack which appears to have affected a rather obscure broadcasting company, Mir, which owns a radio station and a television channel.
Putin’s image was seen in social media videos played in well-furnished living rooms while others recorded videos from the radio playing inside their cars.
In a video that first surfaced on a local community chat in the southern city of Voronezh, a woman cranks up the volume, struggling to contain her shock.
“What the hell is that?” he is heard saying as the fake president announces martial law.
“I’m at a loss for words.”
Mir admitted his television and radio airwaves were hijacked on Monday afternoon for about 20 minutes in an “unlawful violation”.
Meanwhile, Putin on Monday hosted the country’s transport minister and the head of the national company to discuss rebuilding transport links in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine.
The transport minister told Putin that they plan to reopen Mariupol airport as early as next year “if the situation allows” without making any mention of the ongoing hostilities.
Unlike Putin, pro-war Russian military commentators raised alarm about the Ukrainian counteroffensive on Monday.
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