Fact Check: Ukrainian Defense Official Oleksiy Danilov Did NOT Describe Moscow Concert Hall Attack As 'A Lot Of Fun' -- It's A Deepfake

Fact Check

  • by: Ed Payne
Fact Check: Ukrainian Defense Official Oleksiy Danilov Did NOT Describe Moscow Concert Hall Attack As 'A Lot Of Fun' -- It's A Deepfake Mixed Video

Did Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, describe the Moscow concert hall attack on March 22, 2024, as "a lot of fun"? No, that's not true: The video purportedly showing an interview with Danilov is a deepfake, created from two other videos, with a synthetic voice track. Additionally, the website of a software company specializing in AI voice generation analyzed the audio and concluded that it's "very likely" that the audio file was generated using their product.

The claim appeared in a post and video (archived here) published on X (formerly Twitter) by Dr. Anastasia Maria Loupis on March 22, 2024. The post's caption said:

🇺🇦Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Alexey [Russian version of Oleksiy] Danilov:

"Is it fun in Moscow today? I think it's a lot of fun"


This is what the post looked like on X at the time of writing:


(Source: X screenshot taken on Mon Mar 25 15:49:14 2024 UTC)

The videos

The video included in the social media post is a mishmash of two other videos, both published before the March 22, 2024, attack on the Crocus City Hall concert venue. The first video (archived here) with the images of the two news anchors (outlined in yellow) was published on YouTube by My-Ukraina, a Ukrainian news channel, on March 16, 2024, under the title "JUST! BUDANOV'S EXCLUSIVE COMMENT on raids by Russian volunteers and elections in Russia."

First video:


(Source: X screenshot taken on Mon Mar 25 19:18:58 2024 UTC)

The second video (archived here) with Danilov (also outlined in yellow) was published on YouTube by the online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda on March 19, 2024, under the title "Danilov on the Belgorod operation: Russia is already starting to boil."

Second video:


(Source: X screenshot taken on Mon Mar 25 19:26:01 2024 UTC)

The titles for both videos were translated by Google Translate (here and here).

The Audio

The audio used with the video is counterfeit. Lead Stories ran the audio from the social media post through the AI Speech Classifier on the ElevenLabs website, which said there's a 98 percent probability the audio was "generated by ElevenLabs." A screenshot of the results appears below:


(Source: ElevenLabs screenshot taken on Mon Mar 25 21:05:05 2024 UTC)

ElevenLabs markets an AI voice generator in dozens of languages.

Additionally, Lead Stories Ukrainian staff noted that the words in the video did not match the movement of Danilov's lips.

Audio translation

Lead Stories Ukrainian staff also translated the fabricated audio. The original Ukrainian and the translated English can be found below:

Original: Чи весело сьогодні в Москві? На мою думку, дуже весело. Хочеться вірити, що такі веселощі ми будемо їм влаштовувати частіше. Все-таки братні народи. А родичів треба частіше радувати і частіше у гості до них ходити. Значить, будемо ходити.

English: Is it fun in Moscow today? In my opinion, there is a lot of fun. I would like to believe that we will organize such fun for them more often. After all, they are fraternal people. And relatives need to be pleased more often and visited more often. So, we will visit them.

Read more

Other Lead Stories fact checks concerning the Russian-Ukrainian war are here; stories about AI-generated content can be found here.

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  Ed Payne

Ed Payne is a staff writer at Lead Stories. He is an Emmy Award-winning journalist as part of CNN’s coverage of 9/11. Ed worked at CNN for nearly 24 years with the CNN Radio Network and CNN Digital. Most recently, he was a Digital Senior Producer for Gray Television’s Digital Content Center, the company’s digital news hub for 100+ TV stations. Ed also worked as a writer and editor for WebMD. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, Ed is the author of two children’s book series: “The Daily Rounds of a Hound” and “Vail’s Tales.” 

Read more about or contact Ed Payne

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