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Pro-Putin comedian: The makers of the Klitschko fakes get money from Gazprom


Next week, the Russian satirists »Vovan and Lexus« want to show the video in which they pretended to be Vitali Klitschko to Franziska Giffey. In an interview, the two now revealed who pays them.

Enlarge image

Still image from the video conversation between Franziska Giffey and the supposed Vitali Klitschko

Photo: - / dpa

So far, Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexey Stolyarov, aka "Vovan and Lexus," have only published a small part of their fake video interviews, in which they posed as Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko.

At least five European city leaders and the EU Interior Commissioner Ylva Johansson had tricked her with her scam.

So far, however, only excerpts from her conversations with Johansson and Warsaw's Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski have been shown in her show on Russia's YouTube alternative Rutube.

That should change in the coming week.

According to the ARD political magazine "Contrasts", the two comedians then want to show the remaining videos - that would be the one with Berlin's Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) and her counterparts from Budapest, Madrid and Vienna.

The pro-Kremlin satirists »Vovan and Lexus« probably didn't produce their deceptions for their own ends.

In the program in which Trzaskowski was presented, they asked questions such as »Does Europe have money for refugees?« and »What dangers can lurk for Ukrainian women in EU territory?«.

Apparently they want to discredit Ukraine's western partners.

The two are paid by Rutube itself. The video platform in turn belongs to Gazprom Media, a subsidiary of the Russian state-owned company Gazprom.

»We work for Rutube and are Rutube ambassadors.

So we get our money from there,” said Stolyarov in an interview with “Contrasts”.

The two have not yet revealed what technical means they used to convince their victims that they would speak to Vitali Klitschko.

But they weren't deepfakes, i.e. not a Klitschko generated entirely by software specially trained for it, they said recently.

The Berlin Senate Chancellery had initially spread the deepfake thesis, but later moved away from it.

Most of the other mayors don't believe in this explanation either - with the exception of the secretariat of Budapest's mayor Gergely Karácsony.

A spokesman for Karácsony told SPIEGEL: "We suspect that deepfake technology was used." As justification, he pointed out that the alleged Klitschko was seen in the same setting as in the conversation with Giffey.

None of the victims made their own recordings of the video calls.

An external investigation is therefore only possible to a very limited extent.


Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2022-07-07

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