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News

Kremlin bot network spreads fake quotes from Beyonce, Oprah Winfrey, 50 Cent, and others with demands to stop aid to Ukraine

Image generated by the Midjourney neural network

Analysts from the Bot Blocker / antibot4navalny project have uncovered a surge in bot activity spreading images with fake quotes from celebrities calling on Western countries to stop supporting Ukraine. The pictures are being circulated in English, French, and German, and depict famous figures criticizing Ukraine, urging Western nations to end their support for Kyiv, and alleging U.S. involvement in the explosion of the Nord Stream-2 pipeline. The Insider has independently verified the data and archived multiple publications before they were deleted.

The majority of these “quotes” stress the apparent need to stop Western financial aid to Ukraine. Some fictitious celebrities argue that supporting Ukraine is futile, asserting that the West is now “more concerned” with the war between Israel and Hamas. “Ashton Kutcher” proposes sending Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to a rehabilitation center, while “Cristiano Ronaldo” says Ukrainians “behave like charlatans.” And “Beyonce” has suddenly become an expert on sabotaging gas pipelines.

The Insider has also confirmed that the same images with fake quotes are distributed on Facebook, and are spread with the help of paid ads, meaning that Meta receives income from the bot network. In the “beneficiaries and payer” fields, the names of the bots appear to be random — The Insider could not confirm that real people with these names exist.

The campaign to spread these “quotes” on X (formerly Twitter) began on November 23, while the Facebook campaign began earlier — in early November. Here’s an updated list of the celebrities attached to the fake quotes:

  • 50 Cent
  • Angelina Jolie
  • Ariana Grande
  • Ashton Kutcher
  • Bella Hadid
  • Beyonce
  • Bruno Mars
  • Bruno Le Maire (France’s Finance Minister)
  • Cameron Diaz
  • Charlie Puth
  • Cristiano Ronaldo
  • Dwayne Johnson (“The Rock”)
  • Elizabeth Debicki
  • Elton John
  • G-Eazy
  • Gal Gadot
  • Gigi Hadid
  • Greta Thunberg
  • Gwyneth Paltrow
  • James Cameron
  • James Hetfield
  • Jay-Z
  • Jennifer Lawrence
  • Jennifer Lopez
  • Jimmy Fallon
  • Justin Bieber
  • Kanye West
  • Katy Perry
  • Kim Kardashian
  • Lady Gaga
  • Leonardo DiCaprio
  • Matthias Schweighöfer (German actor)
  • Meryem Uzerli (Turkish-German actress and model)
  • Miley Cyrus
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Norman Tavo
  • Post Malone
  • Quentin Tarantino
  • Adèle Exarchopoulos
  • Richard Branson
  • Rihanna
  • Selena Gomez
  • Shakira
  • Taylor Swift
  • Till Lindemann (lead vocalist of the German band Rammstein)
  • Tina Kunakey (French model)
  • Travis Scott
  • Vin Diesel
  • Vincent Cassel
  • Will Smith

Who's behind the fake quotes

The images are published by the same accounts that previously spread posts by the pro-Kremlin Doppelgänger / RRN bot network, reported on by The Insider in October and mid-November this year. The Russian IT companies National Technologies and Social Design Agency (Агентство Социального Проектирования), which are under EU sanctions, are behind the spam attack. The ultimate owner of National Technologies is Rostec — Russia’s state-owned defense conglomerate headed by former KGB agent Sergey Chemezov, a close friend of Vladimir Putin.

The bots have also promoted the EuroBRICS website, which has proven links to Russian Military Intelligence’s (GRU) Special Service Centre (Military Unit No. 54777). On July 28 this year, the EU imposed sanctions against those involved in the manipulation campaign — including National Technologies, the Social Design Agency, as well as several officers of GRU unit 54777, which was described as being responsible for “psychological operations” (PsyOps).

The Doppelgänger network circulates links to counterfeit websites resembling popular Western media outlets, where articles are presented as analytical journalism. The content criticizes Ukraine and urges the Western audience to cease providing financial aid to Kyiv.

The bots' actions in disseminating “quotes from famous figures” are identical – the same accounts post numerous cards in comments on unrelated publications that have no connection to Ukraine or Nord Stream. As per the Bot Blocker / antibot4navalny project, these same accounts played a role in propagating other messages from the Doppelgänger network, which can be easily identified through its links to the counterfeit websites of well-known Western media.

The same accounts also spread identical posts featuring images of women supposedly advertising a website promoting Ukrainian sex workers in Europe. Each post is accompanied by a caption expressing seemingly innocent concern. “These girls should not be waiting for such a fate!” — one message reads. These bots also distribute an image of a transgender woman with a caption saying that her “choices are respected.” This strategy seeks to instil the notion among Western audiences — particularly right-wing sympathizers and skeptics — that there is a surge of sex workers and transgender individuals arriving from Ukraine.

The bots previously circulated photos of buildings in France adorned with Stars of David — symbols painted on Jewish homes as a warning of potential pogroms. Citing data from the Bot Blocker project, The Insider highlighted that the same accounts were responsible for circulating pro-Russian publications, indicating the involvement of an identical bot network in the distribution of these photos.

Under the guise of “deep concern,” hundreds of Doppelgänger bots also shared a video allegedly created by the Turkish nationalist organization “Grey Wolves” (Bozkurtlar). In the video, terrorists threaten to replicate the Munich massacre — a terrorist attack at the 1972 Olympic Games where 17 people, including 11 members of the Israeli national team, were killed — at the upcoming 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

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