EU MPs Targeted by Deepfake Video Calls

Multiple senior European members of Parliament (MPS) have been approached by individuals using deep fake filters to imitate Russian opposition figures in video calls. 

Those deceived by these deep fakes include Rihard Khols, the chairperson of Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Committee, as well as MPS from Estonia and Lithuania. Tom Tugendhat, the chairperson of the UK Foreign Affairs Select Committee, also revealed he was targeted. 

Tungendhat tweeted, “Putin’s Kremlin is so weak and frightened of the strength of @Navalny they’re conducting fake meetings to discredit the Navalny team. They got through to me today. They won’t broadcast the bits where I called Putin a murderer and a thief, so I’ll put it here.” 

Kors uploaded a picture of Leonid Volkov, an ally of Navalny, and a screenshot of his deep-fake look-alike from the video call. Volkov said the two looked nearly identical. “Looks like my real face – but how did they manage to put it on the Zoom call?” Welcome to the deep fake era…” He tweeted. 

Deepfakes are named after the “deep learning” that allows artificial intelligence to imitate faces and have them mimic authentic human behavior. 

New smartphone apps allow users to track other faces on to their own or to “animate” an image of any face, similar to a puppet. 

Khols said he had been approached via email by a person claiming to be Volkov and held a short video-conference with him, where they discussed support for Russian political prisoners and the Russian annexation of Crimea. He said he later realized he had been the victim of a deep fake. 

“Quite a painful lesson, but perhaps we can also say thanks to this fake Volkov for this lesson for us and Lithuanian and Estonian colleagues. It is clear that the so-called truth decay or post-truth and post-face era has the potential to seriously threaten the safety and stability of local and international countries, governments and societies,” He wrote on Twitter. 

Volkov accused a Russian couple, named Vovan and Lexus, who are known to regularly target western officials, of being behind the call. 

Via Facebook, Alexi Stolyarov, known by the pseudonym Lexus, did not deny speaking with Kors, telling the Guardian he would “keep it a secret.” He did, however, deny using a filter to make himself appear as Volkov, writing, “Probably Volkov has false information.” 

He sent a link to a denial on Telegram, where an acquaintance of his claimed he was “with Leonid in Donetsk right now,” posting a photo of Stolyarov in what seemed to be facial makeup. 

“We both strongly condemn the latest disgusting attempt by the Kremlin to discredit protest leaders and Putin’s number two enemy in Russia,” The post read. 

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