Russia’s FSB security service on Monday claimed that a mother serving in the Ukrainian army entered Moscow to assassinate pro-war journalist, Daria Dugina. Ms Dugina was killed by a bomb planted under the seat of her car on Saturday evening. Kremlin officials claimed that Ukrainian Natalya Volk entered the capital with her 12-year-old daughter to stake out the journalist.
They released a passport photo of Ms Volk, alongside a video purporting to show her in Moscow, with pro-Kremlin websites claiming she was part of the nationalist Azov regiment.
But the FSB’s solving of the case has been widely debunked, with one data analyst Lauri Linnamae claiming that the ID picture was photoshopped.
Sharing close-up pictures of the passport image and explaining the editing process step-by-step, Ms Linnamae claimed that a “photoshop artist” spent some “quality time” with editing tools.
In an unverified series of pictures, she pointed out a “killer shadow effect”, saying there are “no limits to what you can achieve with some gaussian blur.”
Mr Linnamae continued: “How do you call those jpeg error levels not matching up when pasting an object to background? Provokaziya.
“Fake it till you make it. Forget those fine tricks for cutting someone’s face from background.
“Good ol’ eraser tool with soft edges is faithful like a tractor.
“Time for some magic wand magic.”
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Mr Galeotti added: “I think this is a major Kremlin blindspot, to fail to appreciate how its evolving narrative is actually painting it as incompetent”.
Christo Gorozev, from the investigative website Bellingcat, questioned how she would have entered Russia, given that Russian hackers were aware that Ms Vovk was a member of the Ukrainian military as far back as April.
Her details were posted on a site encouraging “doxxing”, a form of internet harassment.
Mr Gorozev questioned: “How did she get into Russia with that easily discoverable military footprint?”
Putin described Ms Dugina’s death as a “cruel crime”.
He said: “She was a journalist, scientist, philosopher, war correspondent, she honestly served the people, the fatherland, she proved by deed what it means to be a patriot of Russia”.