Last week, Ukrainian hacker group CyberHunta released thousands of e-mails purportedly from the inbox of Vladislav Surkov – an aide to President Putin. Dmitry Peskov, President Putin’s spokesperson, dismissed the email account as a fake, saying Surkov „never used email“.

The hacked emails, however, do not purport to be from Surkov’s personal account, but from an account run by his aide.

The Digital Forensic Research Lab considers the leak to be genuine: „It is quite easy to fake screenshots, PDF documents, and other files, but faking email inboxes is quite difficult.“. The New York Times quotes a Russian entrepreneur who confirms that emails from him that were featured in the leaks are authentic.

High level of engagement with separatists
The leaks would support what a majority of analysts have been saying from the very beginning of the war in Ukraine – that the Kremlin has been guiding the „rebels“ in the East of Ukraine.

“Surkov received a list of casualties in Donbas from a high-ranking separatist official, expense reports for a government office in Donetsk, and requests for edits on a “letter from the Donbas residents” to Ukrainian authorities, calling to cease all military activities in the region. The document would later surface in the pro-Kremlin media as authentic,“ describes The Moscow Times.

According to another email, Surkov received a list of candidates for leadership posts in the separatists’ „republic“. Other documents contain a conversation with Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev, „who is believed to have bankrolled much of the separatist movement in Ukraine“, according to Radio Free Europe.

For a more detailed description of the leaked emails, see the article by the Digital Forensic Research Lab: „Breaking down the Surkov Leaks“.

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