The head of Ukraine’s military intelligence has responded to reports he is dead and videos featuring his image are AI-generated with a tongue-in-cheek response claiming a “squad of immortal commanders” is being created to haunt the dreams of Russian citizens.

Reports that Major General Kyrylo Budanov was killed or seriously injured have been circulating for weeks on social media ever since a Russian missile strike on Kyiv on May 29.

Russian state media quickly picked up the conspiracy theory, falsely claiming that Ukrainian media was reporting Budanov’s death. 

And last week, chief Kremlin propagandist Vladimir Solovyov, falsely claimed he was in a coma in Germany. The conspiracy theory has since grown with Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valery Zaluzhny, now falsely reported to have been killed or wounded, an unfounded rumor that Putin himself fueled over the weekend.

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Even a video of Budanov published on  June 11 in which he stares silently into the camera to emphasize how people should remain tight-lipped about Ukraine’s summer offensive, wasn’t enough to convince conpsiracy theorists he was alive, with many claiming his static pose was filmed because it was easier to fake using AI technology.

In an exclusive comment to Kyiv Post, Budanov finally addressed the conspiracy theory, saying: “Now in Ukraine, a special detachment of immortal commanders is being created – Valery Zaluzhny, myself, Stepan Bandera, Symon Petliura, Ivan Mazepa. 

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“Therefore, the Russians and their propagandists will still have a lot of work to do in a nervous, hysterical environment.

“A squad of immortals will come in the middle of the night to the dreams of Russian citizens who wanted to take over Ukraine and give them nightmares.”

On Tuesday, Budanov also appeared in a joint photo with Japan's ambassador to Ukraine, Matsuda Kuninori.

Budanov has built an enigmatic reputation since the launch of Russia’s full-scale invasion, saying little publicly but making sure when he does that it packs a punch.

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Last month he admitted Kyiv is behind the assassinations of prominent Russian propagandists, saying: “We’ve already successfully targeted quite a few people,” The Times reports.

 

“There have been well-publicized cases everyone knows about, thanks to the media coverage.”

 

Although Budanov did not specify exactly which individuals have been targeted, since the launch of Russia’s full-scale invasion last year, several prominent pro-Kremlin figures have been killed or wounded on Russian territory.

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