A number of Polish news outlets and media figures were targeted on Wednesday with hacking attacks, prompting Editor-in-Chief of Gazeta Polska Tomasz Sakiewicz to accuse Russian special services of being behind an attempt to spread disinformation about NATO troops being sent to Belarus.
Poland Daily, the English-language website of TV Republika, released a statement about the hacking of its website.
“Our website has been the victim of a digital attack, as a suspicious article suddenly appeared on polanddaily.com without our approval or knowledge. The article provided false information on Polish and Lithuanian ministers planning to create a special peace-keeping force of the European Union to send it to Belarus. We have taken down this manipulative article and deny any association with such lies.”
The site indicated that “the most probable culprits of this attack would be Russian hackers trying to destabilise the situation in Belarus and make the Belarusian people hostile towards Poland.”
However, Poland Daily was not the only media outlet attacked by hackers on Wednesday, according Polish news outlet Niezalezna.pl.
Sakiewicz’s Twitter account was also targeted and his password changed and the Union of Poles in Belarus website was also hacked.
Sakiewicz’s account was used to create a link to the article “Poland and Lithuania urge NATO to send troops to Belarus”, which was also published on the znadniemna.pl website, which is run by the Union of Poles in Belarus.
A similar article appeared on Poland Daily. It was written in English and its goal was to spread disinformation concerning pressure from Poland, Lithuania and the United States on NATO to send troops to Belarus.
In the article posted by hackers, Katarzyna Gójska supposedly conducted an interview in Gazeta Polska with the commander of US forces in Europe, Gen. Christopher G. Cavoli, who also claimed that Poland and the Baltic states are woefully unprepared in terms of their militaries. This interview was entirely fabricated and never occurred in reality.
The names of Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau and Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya appeared in the text. The cover image of the article was that of Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius.
Tomasz Sakiewicz told portal niezalezna.pl, that he is “convinced that Russian services are behind this attack.”
This is not the first attack made by Russia against Polish conservative websites.
In May 2020, portal Niezależna.pl was struck twice by Russian hackers, who changed the content of several articles.
Other actions taken by Moscow against Polish media include the publishing of a fake article on The Duran, an English language pro-Russian website.