Recently a cache of 2,337 e-mails from the office of a high-ranking advisor to Russian president Vladimir Putin was dumped on the Internet after purportedly being obtained by a Ukrainian hacking group calling itself CyberHunta. The cache shows that the Putin government communicated with separatist forces in Eastern Ukraine, receiving lists of casualties and expense reports while even apparently approving government members of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic. And if one particular document is to be believed, the Putin government was formulating plans to destabilize the Ukrainian government as early as next month in order to force an end to the standoff over the region, known as Donbass.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press's Howard Amos and analysis by the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab, at least some of the e-mails—dumped in a 1-gigabyte Outlook .PST mailbox file—are genuine. Amos showed e-mails in the cache to a Russian journalist, Svetlana Babaeva, who identified e-mails she had sent to Surkov's office. E-mail addresses and phone numbers in some of the e-mails were also confirmed. And among the documents in the trove of e-mails is a scan of Surkov's passport (above), as well as those of his wife and children.
A Kremlin spokesperson denied the legitimacy of the e-mails, saying that Surkov did not have an e-mail address. However, the account appears to have been used by Surkov's assistants, and the dump contains e-mails with reports from Surkov's assistants. The breach, if ultimately proven genuine, would appear to be the first major publicized hack of a Russian political figure. And in that instance, perhaps this could be a response to the hacking of US political figures attributed to Russia.