Russia’s online campaign to destroy Yulia Navalnaya | Trending Viral hub

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Over the two days following news of Navalny’s death, Solovyov shared more content designed to suggest Navalnaya was having an affair, including a doctored image that appeared to show Navalnaya hugging Russian businessman Evgeny Chichvarkin, who in the past financed the Navalny’s work.

The original image, taken in 2013, shows Navalnaya hugging her husband after his release from jail. The doctored image has been in circulation for several years and Reset researchers found examples of it being shared online in 2021. The fake image has been widely debunked by fact checkers.

However, following Navalny’s death, the image has taken on a new life and has been widely shared on X, where it has been viewed more than a million times, and on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, as well as Russian. social media platform Vkontakte. It has also been used on many Russian blogs and websites that amplify pro-Kremlin disinformation in multiple European languages.

A non-fake image, showing Navalnaya standing next to Chichvarkin on a beach, is also shared to support the false claim that the pair are having an affair.

Navalnaya, who has also said she was happy to be the wife of a politician and not a politician, was thrust onto the world stage following the death of her husband, and just hours after his death was announced, she spoke at the highly influential Congress Munich Security Council. Conference. Last week she spoke to EU leaders before traveling to San Francisco, where she met US President Joe Biden.

Global recognition came with some problems. His X account, which he created last week, was suspended when the platform’s automated systems triggered an alert after Navalnaya amassed 100,000 followers in just three days. As she fought to get her account back, others on the platforms sought to undermine her campaign to get justice for her husband by sharing a video claiming Navalnaya was faking her grief over her husband’s death. .

The fake video carried the logo of the American Psychological Association (APA) and featured images of American psychologist Paul Ekman, author of the best-selling book. How to know if someone is lying. The video, which appears to be taken from the Instagram Stories of the official APA account, attributes a statement to Ekman that Navalnaya’s pain over the death of her husband is simulated. However, there is no such video on the organization’s social media profiles or website. An Ekman spokesman later said an independent Russian media outlet that his work “does not include consultations on personal, legal or political matters.”

Also in X, the accounts linked to the Matryoshka influence campaign, which targets journalists and fact-checking organizations and was exposed earlier this year by Antibot4Navalny researchers. Accounts that have been linked to this group have been posting videos claiming that Navalnaya had an abortion last month.

An account reviewed by WIRED that is part of this campaign responded to dozens of X posts made by news organizations in Europe and the United States, inserting the same fake video and making the same comment: “Yulia Navalnaya had an abortion in January 2024 in a private clinic. German clinic. None of which is true.

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