On April 11th Vladimir Kara-Murza was detained outside his home in Moscow after an interview with CNN in which he criticised Russia’s actions in Ukraine. He was sentenced to 15 days in jail for disobeying police orders during his arrest and now Russia has opened a criminal case against him on the grounds of spreading false information about Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine. Russia’s parliament passed a bill last month that includes jail terms of up to 15 years for those convicted of intentionally spreading fake news about what Moscow calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine. Public officials claimed the new law was needed to protect its military in the context of the conflict.
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated that Russia is in possession of information that Ukrainian diplomats are ‘participating in provocations against Russian nationals in other countries’ as well as ‘recruiting mercenaries to be sent to the combat zone and also recruiting cyber mercenaries.’
Ukraine previously established the International Legion of Territorial Defense and waived visa requirements for foreign nationals coming to fight on Kyiv’s side.
The Economist discusses the deeper motives behind Russia’s war in Ukraine:
- Russia’s shift away from modernization towards conservative priorities.
- The idea of the ‘Russian World’ is based on a shared heritage, religion, and ethnicity. – The ‘Russian World’ ideology is carried out by those from the security apparatus who are members of Putin’s intelligence and military communities.
- Putin’s contract with the Russian people’ is built around a desire for a better quality of life. It is not clear if it can be replaced by a social contract based on national feelings.
- The global trend of an impact of pandemic years on ideology of identity and nationalism could also be observed in Russia. The impact of pandemic crises on identities and ideologies worldwide is an under-researched topic.
- Putin is returning to conservative thinkers in Russian history, including Konstantin Leontyev.
Source: The Economist
Ukraine’s deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine Mikhail Fedorov claimed responsibility for organising more than 660 cyberattacks and DoS attacks against Russian and Belarus organisations, banks, and institutions.
In an interview with the Spanish newspaper El País, Fedorov said that he organised ‘the world’s first cyber army.’ He claimed that ‘at the moment, we have about 300,000 specialists,’ adding that ‘participation is voluntary, and we organize it through the [messenger] Telegram, where we post daily tasks.’
Ukrainian CERT detects online fraud using the topic of financial assistance from the EU countries
The Computer Emergency Response Team of Ukraine (CERT-UA) has detected a fake page that lures victims to provide personal data in a fraudulent survey to receive ‘financial help from the EU nations’. Victims are asked to make a payment resulting in card data being compromised.
The fake page is a Facebook page that imitates the resource of the TV channel ‘Ukraine 24.’
The UK has issued an export embargo on equipment and technology that Russia may use to suppress the Ukrainian people. Products targeted include interception and monitoring devices.
The UK has previously banned importing iron and steel products, as well as the export of quantum technologies, advanced materials, and luxury goods, and has cut off any new UK Export Finance (UKEF) support for Russia and Belarus.
At least another million programmers are needed in Russia, stated Andrey Turchak, vice-speaker of the Federation Council. Turchak revealed that between 50 and 70 000 IT workers had left Russia since the start of the special military operation in Ukraine. He claimed that the numbers are not alarming in comparison with 2020, when over 100,000 programmers relocated abroad.
Over the last month, the Russian government has accepted favourable mortgages for IT experts and approved army deferrals. The Ministry of Digital Development is also debating whether they should be exempt from income tax for three years.
The largest Russian IT companies are having difficulties purchasing computer equipment because Western equipment providers have exited the market and are no longer supplying parts to Russian IT firms.
Problems with Russian servers will arise as Baikal and Elbrus processor stocks run out and no new stable deliveries are planned.
According to a Russian government source, VK, the Russian online social media and social networking service, requested assistance from the Ministry of Digital Transformation in finding a vendor willing to sell ‘tens of thousands of servers.’ Because of the sanctions, Yandex, Russia’s largest search engine, has halted many of its planned investments in new and experimental services both at home and abroad.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade ‘sees no reason to escalate the situation’, stressing that companies operate normally. Meanwhile, market sources told Kommersant that Russian equipment stocks are rapidly depleting.
Russian cybercriminals are turning to alternative money-laundering methods due to sanctions on Russia and law enforcement actions against dark web markets, analysts at Flashpoint observed. Russian hackers have mostly turned to Chinese payment systems, including Chinese banks and the Union Pay cards system.
Cryptocurrency exchanges with rising KYC (known your customer) requirements, even those within Russia, are not an option, so darknet coin-mixing and cash-out services are among the few options available. Thus, cybercriminals began investing in gold or saving bitcoin in cold wallets until conditions changed.
The Binance cryptocurrency exchange is deactivating the accounts of its major clients in Russia and is cutting back on its services in the country following the EU’s latest sanctions on Moscow.
Binance has stated that ‘Russian nationals or natural persons residing in Russia, or legal entities established in Russia’ holding crypto worth over 10,000 euros will be restricted from making new deposits or trading. However, affected clients would be able to withdraw funds and would be given 90 days to close their position. Other users’ accounts will remain active.
The changes will not affect non-sanctioned Russians, who can prove that they live outside the country through proof-of-address verification.