Russian newspaper accuses hackers of planting fake report on military fatalities

A Russian marine participates in exercises in Belarus
Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP

A Russian newspaper has accused hackers of being behind an article that briefly appeared on its website this week saying nearly 10,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in Ukraine.

Reuters reported Tuesday that the pro-Kremlin Komsomolskaya Pravda, a Russian-language tabloid based in Ukraine, removed the figures — 9,861 Russian military members killed and 16,153 wounded — and posted an update.

A message on the page said “access to the administrator interface was hacked on the Komsomolskaya Pravda website and a fake insert was made in this publication about the situation around the special operation in Ukraine. The inaccurate information was immediately removed.”

The Russian government has shut down independent media outlets and created new laws against journalists who defy its propaganda since its initial attack on Ukraine nearly four weeks ago.  

Alexander Gamov, a correspondent for Komsomolskaya Pravda, also told reporters that the site had been hacked during a press call with Russian officials. The article remains available on archive sites

Russian leaders have not updated casualty totals since March 2, when it was reported that 498 members of the Russian military had been killed and 1,597 injured. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Tuesday that he had no updated tally to provide.

U.S. and Ukrainian officials have estimated as many as 10,000 people have been killed as the conflict rages in Europe, though the figures have not been independently confirmed. 

A Ukrainian fighter jet pilot told CNN on Monday that Russia has sustained “a lot of losses” in the war.

“They have a fear of our air defenses,” the pilot, referred to only by his nickname, “Juice,” told anchor Anderson Cooper. “They couldn’t gain air superiority in our skies.”

The Pentagon has said Russia’s military has lost more than 10 percent of the combat force that President Vladimir Putin sent to invade Ukraine, which was estimated above 150,000 troops. 

Last week, Marina Ovsyannikova, an editor at Channel One, a Russian state TV news outlet, appeared during a live show for several seconds shouting anti-war slogans and holding a poster that read “NO WAR.” She was fined 30,000 roubles. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for direct talks with Putin to end the war, which has leveled cities and forced millions of people to evacuate to Poland and other nearby countries. 

Tags Russian casualties Russian military Vladimir Putin
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