Russia Fail: Russi Leaks Flips the Script on Russian PsyOps

31-Hour Response Time Clocked in “Angels and Demons” Failed Russian PsyOps Counter-Attack

by John Liccione

Thirty-one hours. That’s how long it took the Russian disinformation warfare/psyops team focused on Ukrainian society and social media to detect, react, and respond with a counter-attack on Telegram against Ukrainian artist Alexander Nikityuk’s latest biting piece of caricature art entitled “Angels and Demons” he just published two days ago on his Facebook feed. Russi Leaks does a deep-dive on this incident as a teaching moment for all the world to bear witness. It’s a tight, compact example of how he who controls the narrative can control the mind, to paraphrase George Orwell.  

Alongside the devastating kinetic war of bombs, missiles, tanks and aircraft, an information and psychological war is raging in parallel in the mind-space and in cyber-space in Russia, Ukraine, and over the worlds’ largest social media platforms, a war which is playing out visually on a global scale in various forms.  In this case, the medium of choice is cartoon satire art. Political satire caricature art is a highly effective and compact medium and as such, when one looks at the dueling visual narratives side by side as shown above, it becomes easy to grasp why so many of the Russian people relying on their Telegram and Russian state TV for their news, having now been completely cut off from Facebook and other western media, still believe Putin’s ghastly war against Ukraine is somehow justifiable. 

And just to fact check these two competing images, the one on the left is an original work of art speaking truth to evil, while the other is a stolen, copied, doctored, reverse-image that is telling a blatant falsehood.  Yes Russian people.  Ukrainian soldiers really are indeed pulling babies out of Russian-shelled civilian buildings including hospitals, whereas Russian soldiers really are looting and pillaging in the towns and cities they have been attacking and occupying. We’ve seen the video footage. There is no doubt.  These are war crimes and your soldiers, their commanding officers, and Putin himself will be held accountable.

Clumsy Tradecraft

Picture exposing Russian-doctoring of original Angels and Demons cartoon art by Alexander Nikityuk. Russian fakery exposed in reversed and upside-down flags and camouflage patterns

In this instance, the Russian psyops team was so clumsy and unprofessional they couldn’t even get the Ukrainian flag right-side up and they failed to notice the camouflage pattern differences between the two armies, as was quickly identified in the above difference diagram provided by Alexander and published in both Ukrainian (on his Facebook feed) and in English for Russi Leaks.  Here is how this engagement played out over the last 72 hours.

The Timeline of the Engagement

The Day Before Yesterday (Monday, March 21, 2022, 2:17PM Kyiv Time)

Alexander Nikityuk finished up his latest piece of caricature artwork he had been developing while under multiple air raid warnings in Kyiv two days ago on March 21st. This newest piece was entitled Angels and Demons and it conveyed the dueling imagery of a Ukrainian soldier saving a baby from a bombed out building juxtaposed against a Russian soldier looting, pillaging, and stealing a couple of chickens in a zombie-like rampage.  Monday night and Tuesday morning was a fitful night in Kyiv due to multiple air raid warnings which continued to sound on Alexander’s cell phone as is shown from his cellphone screenshot here to the right.

After finally getting some shut-eye well into late morning on Tuesday, March 22nd, Alexander awoke to discover that the Russians had stolen his art, doctored it, and flipped the flag insignia on the soldiers uniforms to depict the looter as a Ukrainian with red-glowing eyes and a swastika on the belt buckle, whereas the Russian soldier, now at top-left, saves the Ukrainian baby.  This showed up on a Russian “Z” propaganda’ Telegram channel some 31-hours after the original publishing by Alexander of his original on Facebook.  It was a real hack job and was easily shown to be a fake and doctored copy of Alexander’s original as he was quick to point out in his diagram above.

Upon discovering what the Russian’s had done on Telegram with his artwork, Russi Leaks was notified and we began tracking back the timeline and we saw that the original Russian post by the Telegram user occured at 8:12PM on March 22nd, some 31-hours after Alexander’s original post.  The Telegram channel it was published on, which has the large white Z symbol revealing its bias, had over 80,900 subscribers.  As of 4:07PM yesterday, the Russian fake had been seen by some 1,100 of those subscribers and it had gotten 57 “thumbs up” and only 2 “thumbs down” responses.

The Truth Dominates and Seeps Through 

After re-publishing Alexander’s original artwork on the home page yesterday evening starting at 6:34PM Eastern US time, and after distributing it through our Facebook and Instagram feeds, we received an overwhelming positive response. 

Thus far it has received over 14,000 likes and “hearts”, over 199,000 people were reached with the true, original image and it was shared over 950 times, all just within the firsts 26 hours after the Russian hack-job counter attack was countered with a truth surge.

Of the over 199,000 people reached, way down at the bottom of the country/city list were 369 viewers in, of all places, Minsk.  Hey Belarus! Are you listening?

Russi Leaks will provide updates on this particular battle as it plays out across the balance of the social media platforms and world geographies over the next week.  Here are the Facebook stats below as of time of publication of this article.

Angels and Demons Original Reactions