Hackers took over Bulgarian media to broadcast a meme that Russian President Vladimir Putin loathes.
He hates it so much, he made it illegal to display inside the country. The “gay Putin” graphic shows the dictator wearing makeup in front of a rainbow flag.
Hackers, activists, and social media users have launched their own campaigns aimed at disrupting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as NATO and the West respond with crippling sanctions and companies flee.
The Kremlin has tried to stem the damage by blocking social media sites, making it illegal for the media to call the war an “invasion” instead of a “special military operation,” and arresting thousands of anti-war protestors – all as the Russian economy starts to collapse and citizens flee before they’re conscripted or made destitute.
The meme was first posted online in 2013 to protest Putin’s “anti-gay propaganda” law that prohibited Russians from posting or broadcasting anything pro-LGBTQ. The law has been used to prosecute a teenager for posting photos of shirtless men on social media.
The “extremist” graphic was banned in 2017, for “alleged nonstandard sexual orientation of the president of the Russian Federation.”
Hackers took over the online stream of the country’s biggest broadcasters. The sites are allowed to be shown inside of Russia. The cyberwarriors gained control by hacking into the sites’ hosting provider.
For 20 minutes, the group had control. They displayed the meme with the words, “Make Love, Not War.”
Ukrainian officials have called on hacker groups to help them fend off the Russian invasion, urging them to take down Russian websites and scramble their communications capabilities.