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"Focha is a dipfake". Telegram exposed a network of channels that distributes AI videos of "Ukrainians" from the frontline

"Focha is a dipfake". Telegram exposed a network of channels that distributes AI videos of "Ukrainians" from the frontline
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Russian intelligence uses advanced technologies to create deepfakes aimed at discrediting Ukrainian military personnel. "Television Toronto" journalists conducted an investigation that exposed a network of Telegram channels responsible for spreading this misinformation.

Deepfakes depict Ukrainian soldiers in a negative light: from mockery of fellow soldiers to insults towards children. One of the most common series is videos about a fictional soldier with Down syndrome nicknamed Fox. These fakes have become viral, especially in the West, where influential figures have picked them up, including American propagandist Alex Jones.

The investigation identified three key Telegram channels: "Steppe Wind," "Private on the Frontline," and "Scout" (later renamed to "Veron"). Two of them openly Russian, and the third is disguised as a Ukrainian resource.

Among the identified participants of this disinformation campaign:

  • Denis Burtik from Lugansk, possibly a press officer of the "LPR army";
  • Philip Nazarov, known as Feofan, serves in the press service of the so-called "people's militia";
  • Ivan Filiponenko, son of a high-ranking official in the "LPR";
  • Anton Mikuzhis, another press officer of the "people's militia".

This group, known as "Sapphire," has been active since 2017 under the leadership of Russian officer Alexander Sazonov. The unit is led by Ukrainian citizen Ekaterina Vasilina, recruited by Russian military intelligence.

The use of artificial intelligence to create disinformation is becoming increasingly common. A recent report from OpenAI confirmed that Russia, China, Iran, and Israel have utilized AI technologies to manipulate public opinion.


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