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Russian website briefly reports 10k killed, then says it was hacked

Can Russia, remnant of a Cold War superpower, widely seen as quickly accomplishing military objectives in Georgia, Syria and elsewhere more recently, really have lost 10,000 lives in less than a month of fighting in its current invasion of Ukraine?

There have been no official tolls from Moscow since it acknowledged losing almost 500 soldiers early in March.

Western and Ukrainian sources have estimates ranging from 5,000 to 15,000 Russian deaths, but these are unverified.

Then on Monday (March 21), the website of the Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda had a line, buried deep in a report on the war, that quoted defence ministry data as showing 9,861 soldiers killed in action and another 16,153 wounded.

Minutes later, the line was gone.

The newspaper has accused hackers of planting fake news on its website.

This has raised questions about dissent as well as the level of cyber security in Russia, while still leaving the official toll unclear.

The incident marked the second apparent breach within a week of the tightly controlled war narrative that the Kremlin promotes through loyal Russian media, Reuters reported.

Last week, an editor at Channel One state TV news appeared live in the studio for several seconds shouting anti-war slogans and holding a "NO WAR" poster during an evening news show.

The woman, Ms Marina Ovsyannikova, was fined 30,000 roubles (S$390) by a court, after the Kremlin denounced her protest as "hooliganism".

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