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Russian radio station hacked; starts playing Ukrainian military anthem, anti-war songs

Kommersant FM was broadcasting their lunchtime news bulletin before suddenly being cut off by the Ukrainian military anthem 'Oh the red viburnum in the meadow'.

Russian radio station hacked; starts playing Ukrainian military anthem and anti-war songs snt
Russia, First Published Jun 9, 2022, 6:15 PM IST

A Russian radio station, owned by one of President Vladimir Putin's oligarchs, was pulled off air after a hacker started playing Ukraine's military anthem and anti-war songs. 

During Kommersant FM's lunchtime news bulletin, the Ukrainian military anthem 'Oh the red Viburnum in the meadow' suddenly went on air.

The radio station, part of the Kommersant national newspaper in Russia, is owned by 68-year-old businessman Alisher Usmanov.

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February, the European Union sanctioned Usmanov by placing an EU-wide travel ban on him and freezing his assets. The United States imposed similar penalties.

Also read: Poise amidst wreckage: Graduation waltz of Ukrainian students leaves world numb

The hacking of his radio station is the latest in a string of Ukrainian stunts on Russian media. According to the Official Journal of the European Union, he is a pro-Kremlin oligarch with "particularly close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin". He is one of "Putin's favourite oligarchs."

With an estimated net worth of 19 billion dollars, Usmanov is the fifth richest person in Russia and among the world's wealthiest 100 individuals. He was a shareholder of English football side Arsenal from 2017 to 2018.

Editor-in-chief of Kommersant FM, Alexey Vorobyov, said of the radio station going off the air, "We really were hacked. Technical specialists are now finding out the origin of this attack, trying to do something with the internet stream."

Also read: Thousands of Russians chant 'f**k the war' at concert in St Petersburg; video goes viral

On Wednesday, BBC reporter Francis Scarr raised the hacking on Twitter at 11.43 am. "Russian radio station Kommersant FM has been hacked and is currently playing Ukrainian and anti-war songs midway through a news bulletin not long ago, patriotic Ukrainian song "Oh, red viburnum in the meadow", started playing," Scarr said.

Marina Ovsyannikova, a Russian TV channel Pervyi Kanal (Channel One) editor, went onto a live state TV news broadcast in mid-March with a banner opposing Moscow's invasion of Ukraine that read, "Stop the war... They can't put us all in prison. Don't believe propaganda! They're lying to you here! Russians against war."

Police from the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs apprehended Ovsyannikova. The reason given was for her 'public actions aimed at discrediting the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation to protect the interests of the Russian Federation and its citizens, maintain international peace and security,' the TASS news agency reported.

Also read: 9 lions, facing starvation at Ukrainian zoo, rescued from Putin's wrath

In early May, Russian TV was hacked with the message 'the blood of thousands of Ukrainians and hundreds of their children is on your hands'. It affected online viewers of MTS mobile operator, NTV Plus, Rostelecom, and Wink channels.

The 'No to War' message also reminded viewers that 'TV and the authorities lie,' as it featured on schedules and programmes across the country, including children's television shows.

The attack occurred as Russians prepared to watch Vladimir Putin presided over the annual Victory Day military parade on Red Square. 

Ukrainian hackers also appeared to breach the website of a Russian government ministry earlier this week, redirecting users to a page with a 'Glory to Ukraine' logo. The official website of Moscow's Ministry of Construction, Housing and Utilities were down last night while officials fixed the hack.

According to RIA, a Kremlin-backed news outlet, users' personal data was kept safe. It went on to say that the hackers sought a ransom for not disclosing the users' personal information. This assertion was not supported by evidence.

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