Russian state television channels were hacked to display messages telling viewers that their hands are “covered in blood” over Ukraine, as the Kremlin celebrated the anniversary of its victory over Nazi Germany.
With millions tuning in to watch the Victory Day parade in Moscow on Monday, programme names were changed to display messages such as “television and the government is lying” and “your hands are covered in blood from the deaths of thousands of Ukrainians and their children”.
The names of all Russian TV stations were changed to read “blood is on your hands” – including the Kremlin’s main propaganda channel Russia One.
The “no to war” messages are understood to have featured on Russian TV between 7am and 11am.
While Russian authorities are yet to acknowledge the hack, mobile operator MTS said it had been affected by a “cyberattack” that transmitted “extremist inscriptions” onto its channels.
Former Russian presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak said: “At night and in the morning, residents of Russia who wanted to watch festive TV programme stumbled upon such messages. I wonder who exactly was hacked. Whose head will fly off his shoulders?”
It marks the latest in a series of hacks on Russian TV since the start of the invasion. Hacking collective Anonymous hijacked the Kremlin’s main broadcast channels Russia-24, Channel One and Moscow 24 in March to televise independent coverage of the war in Ukraine and footage of civilian casualties.
The hack on Monday morning was launched as audiences in Russia tuned in to watch President Vladimir Putin deliver an address to the nation commemorating the end of the Second World War.
He accused the West of trying to “cancel” Russia’s values and painted Nato as “the aggressor” on the global stage.
He also attempted to justify the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine by claiming that Russia was fighting on its “own soil”. Mr Putin has previously said that he does not believe Ukraine is a real country.
The Russian leader falsely claimed that Kyiv “was talking about acquiring nuclear weapons” in the run-up to the invasion, adding: “It was a completely unacceptable threat for us… we had to act.”
In one of just a handful of references to the Second World War during a speech intended to mark the defeat of Nazism in 1945, Mr Putin said the “horror of a global war will never be repeated”.
The Russian leader also laid flowers on war memorials dedicated to the Soviet Union’s “hero cities” including Kyiv and Odesa, which have both been the target of Russian shelling over the past two months.
Leaders around the world, including Boris Johnson, noted the “savage irony” of Mr Putin condemning Nazi Germany while waging war abroad.
UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace will deliver a speech today denouncing the Kremlin’s alleged war crimes in Ukraine. He is expected to say that the Russian leader and his inner circle are “mirroring” the fascism of the Nazis.
Mr Wallace’s speech at the National Army Museum in Chelsea is reportedly aimed at countering Mr Putin’s narrative that Russia’s “special operation” is an attempt to “denazify” Ukraine.
He is expected to say that Mr Putin must meet the same fate as Adolf Hitler for “repeating the errors of last century’s totalitarian regimes”.