Modern digital technology can make it almost impossible to discern disinformation from facts. For example, computer games now look so authentic that Russian state TV has used them to illustrate what it presented as real battle scenes in Syria. And experts warn that “deep fakes” in the near future will make it increasingly difficult to separate fiction from reality.

However, some people involved in the production of disinformation still stick to old fashioned tricks.

It now appears that a pot was put on the head of the person whose voice was used to perform the role of a Ukrainian pilot, claiming that his country was responsible for the tragic downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in the skies over Ukraine on 17 July 2014. The pot was the simplest way of distorting the voice of the speaker.

These new claims were published on 22 October in an article in the Russian daily newspaper Kommersant. According to Kommersant’s anonymous sources, the recording of the interview was voiced personally by the alleged coordinator of this and a series of other covert influence operations, Sergey Sokolov, whose decades long career in this shady business is the subject of Kommersant’s article.

According to the online news portal Lenta, it was this voice recording which was used when an alleged actor played the role of a fugitive Ukranian pilot confessing Ukrainian guilt in the incident in a video recording broadcast in 2014 by Radio Komsomolskaya Pravda.

For some time, the story about the Ukrainian fighter jet played a central role in the Russian authorities’ attempts to produce a defensive smokescreen of disinformation against the mounting evidence of Russia’s armed forces’ responsibility in the downing MH17. The Kremlin later abandoned this explanation and replaced it with other disinforming claims.

Kommersant’s sources say that Sergey Sokolov received a remuneration of 10,000 USD for producing this piece of disinformation.

Oops, we did it again: Russian state TV used images from a computer game as an illustration of Russian military action in Syria.


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