The US Central Intelligence Agency bolstered efforts to convince Russians to leak their country’s secrets on Monday, posting an emotional video on Telegram aimed at people frustrated with the situation under President Vladimir Putin.
The short video depicts a Russian bureaucrat and a woman at home with a child, both apparently troubled in their lives, asking if it is what they dreamed of.
It suggests that people can take action to make things better — providing information to the US intelligence agency — and still be patriotic Russians.
The video and an accompanying text provide instructions on how to do so, using a Tor browser to access the dark web and encryption tools the CIA says will ensure their protection.
“The CIA wants to know the truth about Russia, and we are looking for reliable people who can tell us this truth,” the agency writes.
“Your information may be more valuable than you think.”
The CIA said it was hoping to contact people from intelligence, diplomatic, science and technology, as well as other fields, and were interested in all kinds of information, including political and economic.
An agency official told AFP that while they had made the pitch on other social media before, they were now focusing on encrypted Telegram because it is the main medium for Russians to share and obtain information and news, about everything from politics to the war in Ukraine.
The CIA hopes that providing a simple but clear way to leak information via the dark web will convince cautious Russians to take the next step.
“Our aim is to provide avenues that are as secure as possible for them to contact us,” the official said on grounds of anonymity.
The official stressed the United States was not seeking to provoke a revolt or regime change, but just hoping that some Russians might see it as a way to help their country move forward.
The official said similar outreach on other social media, much of it blocked now in Russia, did have results.
“Contact us,” the CIA urged.
“Perhaps the people around you don’t want the truth. We want it.”