On Monday, Russian news site Lenta.Ru was briefly filled with headlines criticizing Vladimir Putin. The site’s sudden departure from its usual pro-Kremlin rhetoric is the work of two of its journalists. They said they released more than 40 titles to counter Russian propaganda on VE Day. Something is loading.
On Monday, two Russian journalists working for popular pro-Kremlin news site Lenta.Ru flooded the outlet’s homepage with dozens of headlines criticizing President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Lenta.Ru was briefly filled with messages such as “Vladimir Putin lied about Russia’s plans in Ukraine” and “Putin started one of the bloodiest wars of the 21st century”, as shown in an archived version of the webpage.
Journalists Egor Polyakov and Alexandra Miroshnikova told independent Russian outlets Mediazona and The Insider that they had published 40-45 facts, cases and stories about the war that state media tried to silence in their country.
Polyakov, a business journalist, told The Insider that their short takeover of the site was not a “hack by hackers” but a “conscious decision” by the two of them to combat Russian propaganda. “I believe that all opponents of war must now unite, regardless of their opinions,” he said.
Polyakov said he and Miroshnikova no longer worked at Lenta.Ru and weren’t in Russia when they tangled with the site, according to The Insider.
Quoting an anonymous Lenta.Ru correspondent, The Insider reported that panic had set in among company staff after discovering the multitude of headlines on the website. On Monday, the site’s editor, Vladimir Todorov, told state news agency RIA Novosti that his organization could not comment on the setback.
Although Lenta.Ru is not state-owned, it receives around 190 million visitors per month, according to web traffic analyzer SimilarWeb.
“We had to do it today,” Polyakov told the Guardian. “We wanted to remind everyone what our grandfathers really fought for on this beautiful VE Day – for peace.”
“Ordinary people are dying, peaceful women and children are dying in Ukraine,” Polyakov said, according to the outlet. “Given the rhetoric we’ve seen, it’s not going to stop. We couldn’t take it anymore. It was the only right thing we could do.”
Victory Day, which falls on May 9, is Russia’s annual celebration of the Soviet Union’s defeat by Nazi Germany in World War II. This year, Putin took the opportunity to again baselessly portray the war in Ukraine as a war against Nazism.
In a separate development on the same day, hackers replaced Russian state television programs with an anti-war message that read: “On your hands is the blood of thousands of Ukrainians and their hundreds of murdered children . Television and the authorities lie. No to war.”