Hackers target ‘IStories’ investigative journalists following Putin’s press conference
The online accounts of six journalists from the investigative outlet IStories were targeted by hacking attempts after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s press conference yesterday, IStories reported on Telegram.
During the early hours of Friday, December 18, someone tried to hack journalist Dmitry Velikovsky’s Facebook account, as well as the Telegram accounts of IStories editor-in-chief Roman Anin, and editors Olesya Shmagun and Roman Shleynov. The Facebook accounts of journalists Alesya Marokhovskaya and Irina Dolinina were hacked on the morning of December 18.
The six journalists targeted are the authors of a recently published investigation about the business dealings of Putin’s alleged former son-in-law, billionaire Kirill Shamalov. Eight journalists worked on the investigation in total, including Meduza editor Denis Dmitriev.
We note that in the case of [Roman] Anin, the unknown individuals were able to obtain a two-factor authentication code, bypassing Roman’s SIM card, but these unknown individuals weren’t able to [correctly] enter the password for second factor.
In the investigation, IStories revealed that Kirill Shamalov acquired a 3.8 percent stake (valued at an estimated $380 million) in Russia’s largest petrochemical company, Sibur, for just $100. This took place just months after his 2013 wedding to Katerina Tikhonova, a woman widely believed to be Russian President Vladimir Putin’s daughter.
During his annual press conference on December 17, Putin commented on the IStories investigation, claiming that the outlet obtained Shamalov’s emails from the U.S. State Department. Putin added that Shamalov acquired his stake in Sibur according to the rules that were in place for all top managers at the company at the time. Several hours later, Shamalov made similar statements to the press.
In response, IStories editor-in-chief Roman Anin stated that Putin “allowed himself to slander journalists and baselessly accuse them of working for Western intelligence services.” “We live in Russia, we don’t hide behind pseudonyms, we sign our names and we are prepared to prove every word with a document,” Anin added.