Espreso. Global

Ukrainian hackers show how Russian military propaganda machine works

28 November, 2023 Tuesday

Ukrainian hackers from the Cyber Resistance group have obtained unique internal documentation and access to special software of the Russian Defense Ministry's Information Department

This was reported by the international intelligence community InformNapalm.

Hackers from the Cyber Resistance group managed to infiltrate the Department of Information and Mass Communications of the Russian Ministry of Defense. They obtained unique internal documentation and access to special software for monitoring the media around the clock. They handed over the obtained materials to InformNapalm.

Who is General ‘No Losses’ Konashenkov?

The Department of Information and Mass Communications of the Russian Defense Ministry is headed by Major General Igor Konashenkov. Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, he has been voicing daily reports from the combat zone. And it was Konashenkov who coined the phrase "no losses", which he constantly repeated at the beginning of the invasion.

His report for March 21, 2022, published by InformNapalm, makes it clear how detached from reality it is.

"In total, since the beginning of the special military operation, we have destroyed: 216 unmanned aerial vehicles, 180 anti-aircraft missile systems, 1,506 tanks and other armored combat vehicles, 152 multiple launch rocket systems, 592 field artillery and mortar pieces, as well as 1,284 units of special military vehicles," he reported a month after the invasion. By comparison, according to The Military Balance, before the start of the great war, Ukraine had only 800 tanks of various types.

In fact, the entire information department of the Russian Defense Ministry is involved in creating an alternative reality where the Russian army destroys "Ukrainian mercenary training centers" and air defense intercepts HIMARS missiles.

The weekly report of Colonel Kochetkov, head of the organizational and planning department of the Department of Information and Mass Communications, shows that there are at least 15 people in the department responsible for different areas. All of them have certain plans for the implementation of information support for the week, as well as a report on the implementation of the plans. The press services of the military districts, the Northern Fleet, and other navies also have weekly plans. For example, from November 4 to 10, these press services released 105 messages, which were used to air 800 stories on central TV channels during the week.

The task of the press services is to cover the ‘special operation’ on the territory of Ukraine, organize information campaigns to glorify the military participating in it, and to respond promptly to negative media coverage of the activities of the Russian Armed Forces.

Katyusha media monitoring program

Employees of the department analyze all information related to the activities of the Russian Armed Forces in daily reports. There is a separate report on Russian media, and a separate report on references to the Russian army in the world media. There is also a daily report with transcripts of all propaganda reports.

In order to analyze huge amounts of information on a daily basis, propagandists use special software called Katyusha. This is an information and analytical system for online media monitoring. It is a Russian analog of SemanticForce. According to InformNapalm, the Russian Ministry of Defense acquired a license to use Katyusha in 2021, allocating 320 million rubles until 2023 inclusive.

This system allows you to monitor the media 24/7. According to the developer, the database includes 40,000 sources: Russian federal and regional media, foreign Russian-language media, and key foreign media. It allows filtering information by dates, topics, headings, names, and media types. The first tab, "Russian Armed Forces," has more options for analysis than the others.

Positive messages are marked in green, neutral messages in yellow, and negative messages in red. As expected, there are practically no "red" messages.

Katyusha produces posts in real time that are published on VKontakte, Telegram, LiveJournal, Odnoklassniki, while Facebook and Instagram are used in very small numbers. YouTube videos are also being pulled in.

The system has an interesting tab analyzing popular Russian Telegram channels. They are immediately sorted into positive and negative ones.

"Analyzing this system, we came to the conclusion that Katyusha is a kind of Potemkin's bullshit. Obviously, the Russian Defense Ministry's Department of Information and Mass Communications uses it for reporting purposes. However, the system clearly misrepresents the tone of the messages. Negative messages about the Russian Armed Forces and the military and political leadership of the Russian Federation are either not taken into account or labeled as neutral. It's a kind of euphemism - ‘everything is fine, beautiful marquess,’ no negative about the radiant Putin or the army, no failures. It's a kind of digital Konashenkov - ‘patriotism is not a thing’" InformNapalm analysts say.

List of unreliable Telegram channels

Among the interesting documents found by the Cyber Resistance hackers is a letter from Igor Konashenkov to Igor Shestakov, Deputy Director General of the All-Russian State Company for Television and Radio Broadcasting (Rossiya-1, Rossiya-24). In it, he recommends airing information voiced by officials of the Russian Defense Ministry.

"We remind you that the position of military correspondents, as well as other persons who publish information about a special military operation in their Telegram channels, may not coincide with the position of the Ministry of Defense, and in special cases may have signs of actions aimed at discrediting the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. The list of unreliable telegram channels is attached," the letter of November 14, 2023, reads.

Analysts assume that the strange situation with the news about the statement of the Dnepr group of troops about their withdrawal in the Kherson region, which appeared on November 13 (the day before this letter) and was later canceled, is a provocation related to an attempt to identify disloyal channels. That's when a dozen "experts" and analysts" began to express their assumptions and assessments of what had happened in the Kherson region. Obviously, the last wave of cleansing the information space for the presidential election had begun.

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