You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

Who's Behind Russia's "WikiLeaks"?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, June 19 2014

Screenshot of Shaltay Boltay's Twitter account

Representatives of a “mysterious Russian hacker collective” known as “Anonymous International” or “Shaltay Boltay” (Humpty-Dumpty) have denied being hackers. They have told the press that they do very little technical hacking. Mostly they leak things: government memos, email exchanges, and insider reports.

The group (which is unaffiliated with the global Anonymous movement) is relatively new to the scene, publishing their first document on December 31, and yet they have been prolific.

Global Voices reports:

There is a lot of interesting stuff in the materials on Shaltay’s blog. You can see the Kremlin’s instructions to Russian television about how to report on the annexation of Crimea, peruse the private emails of the rebel commander in eastern Ukraine, and read a 180-page-long Kremlinologist analysis of the power struggles between the warring “towers” of influence in the Russian government. You can find all this, and more, on their website.

Buzzfeed reports:

In the last few months, the group has shot to notoriety after posting internal Kremlin files such as plans for the Crimean independence referendum, the list of pro-Kremlin journalists whom Putin gave awards for their Crimea coverage, and the personal email of eastern Ukrainian rebel commander Igor Strelkov. None of the group’s leaks have been proven false.

They also leaked the documents that exposed Putin's Internet “troll army.”

There has been quite a bit of speculation as to the “good guys” and or “saboteurs” providing Shaltay Boltay with government documents.

Global Voices elaborates:

Until someone unmasks the Shaltay collective, Russians will continue “scratching their heads and trading guesses,” says journalist Aleksandr Morozov. Some have tried to determine who might be backing the group by establishing which officials are absent in the leaks. Slon.ru’s Ilya Shepelin, for instance, accuses Shaltay of ignoring Putin’s deputy chief of staff, Alexey Gromov. Others have recalled an emails-leak in 2012, when anonymous hackers released compromising letters between Kremlin-youth functionaries. The leak is now regarded as part of a coordinated campaign by Vyacheslav Volodin against Vladislav Surkov in what was the former’s struggle for the first-deputy-chief-of-staff spot in the Kremlin.

Journalist Oleg Kashin recommends paying close attention to government personnel changes in the coming future, to study whom Shaltay’s leaks might be benefiting and harming. “I think the whole market for hackers’ services is linked closely either with the intelligence agencies or the President’s Administration,” Kashin told Vladimir Dergachev. “I’m unable to imagine a bunch of Robin Hoods who gut other people’s emails for fun or in the name of Good.”

If Anonymous International is anything like WikiLeaks, I doubt everyone will ever agree on whether they are the “good guys” or the bad.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network and the UN Foundation for their generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

For a round-up of our weekly stories, subscribe to the WeGov mailing list.