New Site Allows Users to Prank Call Russian Bureaucrats to Protest War in Ukraine

New Site Allows Users to Prank Call Russian Bureaucrats to Protest War in Ukraine
A simple button click supposedly connects two separate numbers from Russian government agencies. It contends it's making 3,000 of these calls at any one time. (Screenshot: Waste Russian Time)

Tired of getting calls from your old pal Spam Likely? Now you might be able to feel the power of being on the other end of an unwanted call, all while tying up the phone lines of Russian bureaucrats, media, and military personnel.

A group of hacktivists from across the world released the site WasteRussianTime.today Wednesday morning. They designed the site to be as easy to use as possible, and you don’t even have to come up with some quippy “refrigerator running” joke to supposedly spoof two Russian officials. A simple click and Captcha test supposedly connects two phone lines to confuse, distract, and annoy those on the line.

As first reported by Wired, the hacktivist group Obfuscated Dreams of Scheherazade (referencing the storyteller character from the classic tale One Thousand and One Arabian Nights) claim they use a leaked database of Russian officials’ information to connect callers with two separate people in the ministry of war and economy, mid-level administrators in the Russian Federal Assembly, politicians, military police, state media and more.

In the early morning hours, the site was already reporting over 2,000 calls made in a 45 minute timespan while Gizmodo tried the system.

In six separate attempts, the system connected phones for two unknown individuals from Russian state media, political bureaucrats, secret service, and state police, though we were unable to hear any voices on the lines. The calls ended after around a minute of static.

The hacktivists claim they have used publicly leaked data, as well as web scraping to come up with over 5,000 government phone numbers. During morning traffic, the site claimed that over 3,000 phone numbers were being called in the moment. The system doesn’t wholly depend on users calling, as the human-initiated calls are also supplemented with the help of bots, according to the website.

“Let’s make sure we sabotage war whenever we can, ok? No matter whose war it is,” a message on the site reads.

How Russia will or has already responded to their lines being clogged with spam calls remains to be seen. One of the site’s creators, who goes by the name Shera, told Wired they hope the calls cause confusion, and that Russian speakers may even be able to listen in to what the people on the line have to say.

“Join the civil intervention against war,” the site reads. “If youʼre on the phone, you canʼt drop bombs or coordinate soldiers.”

The intense information war between Russia, Ukraine, western nations and activists around the world has been raging since Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the surprise invasion back in February. The hacktivist group Anonymous said they doxed 120,000 Russian soldiers who they claim were participating in the invasion of Ukraine. Back in March, Ukraine itself publicly released names and contacts for 620 Russian intelligence agents. In April, the country listed names of Russian soldiers they say were involved in atrocities in the city of Bucha.

Though Russian-tied hacks from groups like LAPSUS$ have made havoc on multiple systems in the past few months, The Washington Post reported earlier this month that Russia itself has endured an incredible number of hacks to its financial and government systems. More Russian account information was dumped onto the web this past March compared to any other nation.