The conversation via video conference with Kiev Mayor Klitschko had actually been planned for a long time. But in the course of Giffey more and more doubts. A case of “deep fake”?

Berlin’s governing mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) had doubts during a video switch on Friday as to whether she was actually connected to Kiev’s mayor Vitali Klitschko as planned.

The conversation then ended prematurely. “The first quarter of an hour was completely unremarkable,” said Senate spokeswoman Lisa Frerichs on Friday evening. Several Berlin media had previously reported about it.

“The supposed Mr. Klitschko asked how we are doing with the many Ukrainian refugees, how we deal with them, what the numbers are, a completely normal conversation, as we expected.” The conversation via video conference on the topic of cooperation between the two cities had been arranged long beforehand.

But then some issues were raised that made Giffey suspicious. “One time it was about the fact that he referred to an alleged conversation with Ambassador (Andriy) Melnyk and asked how we see it that so many Ukrainians wanted to sneak social benefits in Berlin,” said Frerichs.

“And there was a request that we through our authorities support that young men in particular go back to Ukraine to fight there.” The last topic was even more striking: “He asked if we could support Kyiv in an advisory capacity to organize a kind of CSD (Christopher Street Day). In view of the war, that was more than strange.” The connection was then terminated or broken off.

The Senate Chancellery assumes digital manipulation: “Apparently we are dealing with deep fakes,” said Frerichs. There was no indication that he was not speaking to a real person. “Someone sat across from us who looked exactly like Vitali Klitschko, who moved like that.” The police are now involved. “Deep fakes” are sophisticated technical manipulations that can often only be uncovered by experts.

The Senate Chancellery said on Twitter on Friday that a conversation with Melnyk, the Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, confirmed that Giffey was not connected to Klitschko. “Unfortunately, it is part of the reality that the war is being waged by all means,” Giffey is quoted as saying in the tweet. “Also online, to use digital methods to undermine trust and to discredit Ukraine’s partners and allies.”