Last week, Rihards Kols, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Latvian Parliament, spoke by videoconference with Leonid Volkov, a member of the Russian opposition, near Alexei Navalny. At first glance, this exchange is not very surprising. The only unusual element is that his interlocutor seems to be in a hurry and the exchange is very short.
From viltus @leonidvolkov jeb: kā trīs Baltijas valstis satika viltvārdi un kā vēlāk tāpat “uzķērās” @ltvzinas. Mans skaidrojums šeit: https://t.co/KClylfJEiV.
Attēlā – īstais un neīstais @leonidvolkov. Cik viegli vai grūti abi atšķirami – to vērtējiet paši. pic.twitter.com/q6IZf5kVYL
– Rihards Kols (@RihardsKols) April 22, 2021
He later learned that he was the victim of a “joke”. “Welcome to the era of deepfake, it looks like its real face, how did you manage to depict it so accurately on Zoom”, the chosen one wonders. He’s not the only one to be fooled, British, Estonian and Latvian MPs were also surprised.
A duo of Russian comedians behind this manipulation?
Deepfakes are techniques based on artificial intelligence that make it possible to create fake videos or very realistic vowel extracts. Technology has improved over time, as evidenced by this recent event.
In this case, the authors would have used applications for smartphones that can be used to overlay other faces themselves or to animate an image of any face such as a puppet. The process works all the better for video calls, which are not always of good quality and prevent certain details from being displayed.
In a Facebook post, Rihards Kols said he was quite bitter about using this process to serve as a warning to other politicians: “It is clear that this post-truth era has the potential for the security and stability of countries and seriously endanger governments and societies locally and internationally ”.
For his part, the real Leonid Volkov accused the Russian duo Vovan and Lexus of being behind this kidnapping. The latter, supposedly close to Russian power, have distinguished themselves by performing several stunts in the past. In 2019, in particular, they claimed to have tricked Emmanuel Macron by impersonating the new Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky. Information that has not been approved or rejected by the Élysée.