Internet activists from the hacking group Anonymous vowed on Friday to attack Russian government websites ahead of the May 7 inauguration of President-in-waiting Vladimir Putin.
“The first target is the website of the Russian government, which was formed through deception and fraud,” intoned a heavily-distorted voice on a YouTube clip featuring images of this winter’s mass anti-Putin protests. “Join us! All it takes is a few simple actions to bring this rotten and corrupt system to its logical end.”
The Anonymous group has gained worldwide notoriety for its hacking activities, which have reportedly included shutting down the websites of the U.S. Department of Justice and the F.B.I.
The loose alliance of hackers has also been accused of tapping into the phone lines of Scotland Yard and hack attacks against MasterCard, Visa, and Sony, as well as the governments of the U.S., U.K., Turkey, Australia, Iran and New Zealand.
But Putin's spokesman dismissed the threat.
"Taking into account the great experience of the special services and their effective work in countering hacker attacks, we hope that everything will be ok, " Dmitry Peskov told journalists.
The Russian branch of Anonymous hacked and disabled earlier this year two websites belonging to regional branches of United Russia, the party Putin headed until last month.
At least two demonstrations are due to take place in Moscow on the eve of Putin’s return to the Kremlin for a third term. Putin was forced to step down in 2008 by a constitution that forbids more than two successive terms, but is silent on further stints.
Both last December’s parliamentary polls and Putin’s landslide victory at March 4 presidential elections were marred by allegations of vote fraud.