During a video conference on Friday, the ruling Berlin mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) expressed doubts as to whether she had any ties to Kiev mayor Vitali Klitschko as planned. The conversation then ended prematurely. “The first quarter of an hour was downright unremarkable,” Senate spokeswoman Lisa Frerichs said Friday evening. Several Berlin media had previously reported about it.
“The supposed Mr. Klitschko asked how we are doing with the many Ukrainian refugees, how we deal with them, how the numbers are, a very normal conversation, as we expected.” The talk via video conference on the topic of cooperation between the two cities had been agreed long in advance.
Giffey got suspicious
But then some issues came up that made Giffey suspicious. “Once it was about him referring to an alleged conversation with Ambassador (Andriy) Melnyk and asking how we see so many Ukrainians trying to smuggle social benefits into Berlin,” Frerichs said.
“And there was a request that we, through our authorities, especially support young men who go back to Ukraine to fight there.” The last topic was even more striking: “He asked if we could support Kiev in an advisory capacity for some sort of CSD (Christopher Street Day). In view of the war, that was more than strange.” After that, the connection was disconnected or disconnected.
Clearly a deepfake
The Senate Chancellery assumes digital manipulation: “Apparently we are dealing with deepfake,” said Frerichs. There was no indication that he was not speaking to a real person. “There was someone sitting across from us who looked exactly like Vitali Klitschko, who was moving like that.” The police have now been called in. Deepfakes are sophisticated technical manipulations that can often only be discovered by experts.
The Senate Chancellery said on Twitter Friday that a conversation with Melnyk, Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, confirmed Giffey had no ties to Klitschko. “Unfortunately, it is part of the reality that the war is being waged by any means necessary,” Giffey said in the tweet. “Also online, to use digital methods to undermine trust and discredit Ukraine’s partners and allies.”