On July 24, Russian television channels were prohibited from covering the UAV attack on Moscow. As The Insider has learned from several sources, the government-run channels Rossiya-24 and Moskva-24, as well as RBC and some regional TV channels, were banned from covering the topic 15 minutes prior to the 11 o'clock newscast. Despite this, reports about the drones were still aired in the 10 o'clock newscast.
“We had to urgently change the layout 15 minutes before the broadcast, literally, to remove all the footage with eyewitnesses and the consequences [of the strike], even general street plans. And we had to use whatever we could to complete the newscast: some international stories that we wouldn't have picked up otherwise. The topic was even removed from the summary on Russia 24 and Moscow 24,” a source told The Insider.
RBC had the most detailed coverage of the attack on Moscow, featuring extensive footage, eyewitness interviews, and correspondents on-site. However, all of this had to be removed from the air due to censorship, said another source.
The discussion of the drone attack was limited to short comments from the Defense Ministry and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin. Regional channels were advised not to focus on this topic on air, but shared more detailed accounts on social media platforms.
Meanwhile, stories about the drone attack on Crimea, which happened on the same day were not censored, and many channels began their programs by reporting on the event.
Several drones attacked Moscow early Monday morning. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, two UAVs were involved, with one of them falling near the Defense Ministry building, and the other crashing on Komsomolsky Prospekt. The attack also impacted a building near a university where the hacker group APT28 (Fancy Bear) is reportedly located, indicating it might have been the intended target.
In February 2022, a group of FancyBear hackers launched a large-scale attack on Ukrainian websites. In addition to DDOS attacks on government resources, they also spread malware through cloned government websites, such as through a fake petition in support of Volodymyr Zelensky, written in broken Ukrainian.
In 2017, The Insider exposed the true identity of Fancy Bear, revealing its members as employees of the Russian military intelligence (GRU) unit 26165. This revelation was later corroborated by the US Department of Justice, leading to official charges against the hacker group. APT28 gained notoriety for its prominent cyber operation targeting the US Democratic Party servers in 2016, with the aim of influencing the presidential election in favor of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton.