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Spoof billboards celebrate ‘Russian involvement’ in Brexit

PUBLISHED: 17:40 08 November 2018 | UPDATED: 17:40 08 November 2018

A billboard featuring Boris Johnson in Bethnal Green. Picture: Caitlin Doherty/PA

A billboard featuring Boris Johnson in Bethnal Green. Picture: Caitlin Doherty/PA

PA Wire/PA Images

Spoof billboards declaring Brexit to be a collaboration between Russia and the UK have cropped up in Stoke Newington and Bethnal Green.

A billboard featuring Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Stoke Newington. Picture: Caitlin Doherty/PAA billboard featuring Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Stoke Newington. Picture: Caitlin Doherty/PA

The posters have been erected by a group calling itself Proud Bear that claims to be “a collective of Russian GRU agents”.

“Let’s celebrate a red, white and blue Brexit,” reads one poster on Rectory Road, Stoke Newington, accompanied by a picture of a winking Vladimir Putin waving a Russian flag.

Another poster, in Hollybush Gardens, Bethnal Green, proclaims “Thank you! Boris”, picturing the former foreign secretary and leader of the Vote Leave campaign group Boris Johnson waving Russian flags.

But evidence points to a band of British volunteers and satirists who are calling for an official investigation into Russia’s influence on the EU referendum being behind the posters.

The Proud Bear posters, and Twitter account associated with the campaign, encourage viewers to visit a website where the group hopes to raise £55,000 for an advert on the 40 metre wide LED screen at London Waterloo station.

One man, who took photographs of the billboard in Stoke Newington, said he thought they were “hilarious”.

“Given that the whole world is falling apart, it doesn’t seem too far-fetched that Russian interference could have had something to do with it,” he said.

“Stuff like this is good. People need to see more of it and call people out,” he added.

Tens of thousands of Twitter accounts are understood to have tweeted pro-Brexit messages in the build up to the EU Referendum in 2016, but the impact of the messages has not been accurately assessed.

But hidden in the website’s source code is a message, written in Russian, which reveals the true sentiment behind the posters.

“Theresa May prefers to promote Brexit’s ridiculous plan instead of stopping for a moment and truly investigating the question of whether Russia’s influence was really decisive in the vote.

“The UK immediately needs a Muller-style investigation into Russian intervention in the Brexit campaign,” reads part of the script when translated into English.

The Cabinet Office and Mr Johnson both declined to comment.

Organisers said the “hostile message” in the website source code is “CIA website hacking”, responding to a request for comment.

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