In the summer of 2023, a poet by the name of Gennady Rakitin began publishing his “patriotic” works on VKontakte, Russia’s version of Facebook. He wrote about war, mercenaries killed in action, the Fatherland, and Russia’s “leader.” Russian lawmakers and senators soon began following his page en masse. And his poems were entered into competitions, celebrated at festivals, and shared on channels dedicated to “Z-poetry.”  But it turns out that Gennady Rakitin doesn’t exist. According to Russian journalist Andrey Zakharov, some of his acquaintances are behind the account — and these anti-war activists have actually been publishing translations of poetry written in Nazi Germany during the 1930s and 1940s.  The Gennady Rakitin page has an AI-generated profile picture and includes only sparse details about the “poet,” describing him as a 49-year-old who graduated from the Philology Department at Moscow State University. But this was enough to fool dozens of Russian senators and lawmakers, who added Rakitin as a “friend.”  Rakitin’s friends list includes Russian senators Dmitry Rogozin and Andrey Klishas, State Duma deputies Dmitry Kuznetsov and Nina Ostatina, Putin’s cultural advisor Elena Yampolskaya, and pro-Kremlin “war correspondent” Yuri Kotenok. Zakharov counted a total of 95 State Duma lawmakers and 28 senators among Rakitin’s followers. The account’s creators said that they started out by adding “various public figures and just random people” as friends. “When a critical mass of well-known names was reached, we went after lawmakers and other celebrities,” they explained. The activists also claimed that they “didn’t invest a dime” in promoting the page.

via medusa: Anti-war activists dupe Russian officials with translations of Nazi poetry