Intimidation and Black PR: Government employed hackers?
The Deutsche Welle Ukrainian Service writes that opposition politicians and journalists are increasingly being bugged having their email addresses hacked. The victims are convinced that this is intimidation on the order of those in high places.
It says that while imprisoned former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko asserts that there have been attempts to physically destroy her, her opponents are attempting to destroy her reputation. A new wave of “compromising material” has flooded social networks. As reported, hackers posted 5, 132 supposed emails from the imprisoned former Prime Minister’s daughter Yevhenia Tymoshenko here zhuzhaleaks.com. The emails include supposed correspondence between Yevhenia Tymoshenko and the Head of the Charité Clinic which is treating her mother. The figure for treatment is massive, with the implication clearly intended that the money is more a bribe, than a fee. The Clinic has condemned it as a fake.
Despite the obscurity of the site containing the alleged emails, Deutsche Welle notes that a number of other websites soon drew their readers’ attention to it. “Some publications wrote “analytical articles” about the correspondence, while some, with the most prominent being the State information agency Ukrinform simply posted links to the sites where people could read the alleged correspondence.
The financial smut has attracted the attention of German journalists who found that the key episodes are based on fake material. Both Der Spiegel and Die Zeit, for example, established that the purported bill from the Charité Clinic is a fake. Not only is the figure absurd, but the alleged bill is on the wrong form.
The Clinic has stated that the treatment is free of charge, while the Tymoshenko family are paying only for flights and living expensives.
Ulrich Krekel, Zeit journalist, believes that this latest scandal only damages the Ukrainian regime’s reputation abroad.
He told Deutsche Welle that the figure supposedly sought by the Clinic would so obviously have elicited a huge scandal in Germany, that he had to check it. It was a clear fake which any person who’d been to a doctor in Germany and knew what a doctor’s bill looked like would realize.
Taxpayer-funded State hacking?
Journalists and observers are convinced that the smut has been orchestrated by the same people who got Yulia Tymoshenko imprisoned. Victoria Syumar from the Institute for Mass Information believes that posting over 5 thousand emails on the Internet, divided into topics, would have required the efforts of a whole group of people and the outlay this entailed. She asks whether this is not at the expense of the Ukrainian taxpayer, and says that if the law enforcement agencies do not try to find those responsible, that will serve as yet one more confirmation of who is really behind the campaign.
Ukrainska Pravda journalist Serhiy Leshchenko knows only too well what it’s like to be the target of hackers working on political commissions. One of his email accounts was recently hacked. The hackers tried to palm off a spy programme which would have taken control of his computer as a file with compromising material about a member of the government. Leshchenko is convinced that they wanted control of his computer to find out the sources for exclusive material including about the luxury which President Yanukovych has surrounded himself with in the residence Mezhyhirya which was taken out of State ownership under very dubious circumstances. He says that his phone calls have lock been tapped, and now they’ve enlisted hackers as well. He sees it as aimed at pressure and intimidation.
The substance of Serhiy Leshchenko’s telephone conversations have on a number of occasions been posted on sites under the control of members of the current regime. He believes it possible that now his correspondence will get posted. He says that he has looked through his correspondence and there’s nothing that could compromise him, but that is no guarantee that the hackers won’t resort to faking material, suggesting for example, that he’s taken money from some clan out to discredit those in power.
Leshchenko’s colleague, Mustafa Nayem has also had his emails hacked.
This move by those in power to a new form of pressure on political opponents and critical journalists is viewed by Leshchenko as a logical continuation of methods of intimidation. He sees Yanukovych as personally responsible for the tapping and infringements of confidentiality of correspondence. He notes that there is a site Daily.ua which works under the patronage of the President’s Administration. This publishes articles based on information received from the SBU [Security Service], but with the contents of conversations intercepted being distorted.
He notes that the police make no effort to do anything about sites pouring out smut aimed at compromising politicians and journalists.
Hryhory Nemyrya, former Deputy Prime Minister and associate of Yulia Tymoshenko, is having to go for questioning to the Prosecutor’s Office over a case involving publication on the Internet of what purports to be his correspondence. This supposedly demonstrates unlawful funding of the Batkivshchyna party. Ukrainska Pravda journalists point out that their investigations showing major-scale corruption among those linked with people in power seldom elicit any response.