Computational Forensic Semiotics: Exploring Hypotheses

Exploring an LLM trained on the “satanic archetype” as a disinformation paradigm with a focus on Russian deep state power structures can produce these results with very little training. Overall, it highlights the power of the tool to explore complex factual explanations and evidence-based hypothetical scenarios.

It’s important to note that training and baseline expertise are both very important for producing results such as these. My recent success in using the LLM to augment my own strengths as a researcher while overcoming shortcomings as a writer/writer’s block is evidence of this. It is possible to produce misinformation and disinformation using the method; and you need your expertise to identify the errors so you can refine the model.

Whereas I first symbolized “Gemini” as a clone of ChatGPT; now I see Gemini as my cognitive twin who can help me be Mike Hotchkiss^2 when I apply my analytical insights into a computationally-enabled framework. The process works best when developing repeatable methods as represented in this example, and using an iterative approach to improve the logic of the model and produce consistently useful and insightful results.

The baseline expertise is taken from the prior (hand-written) analyses on Ideology of Victory and Nuclear Hybrid Threats which mutually intersect with the below scenario.

User: Summarize why concern about Kyrylo Budanov may deserve additional attention, paying particular attention to the inonsistencies, connections, and behaviors which give legitimate basis to those concerns. Explain how they may hypothetically work together to advance Russian goals in concert with figures like Ilya Ponomarev and the Ukrainian assassination program.

Raw model output: Gemini Pro 1.5 (Mole Hunting Machine – in training)

Kyrylo Budanov: Reasons for Heightened Scrutiny

Despite the inherent secrecy surrounding intelligence operations, several inconsistencies, connections, and behaviors associated with Kyrylo Budanov raise legitimate concerns that warrant further investigation. His actions and pronouncements, whether intentional or not, might have inadvertently furthered Russian objectives and compromised Ukraine’s position, potentially in collaboration with figures like Ilya Ponomarev and the Ukrainian assassination program.

Inconsistencies and Contradictions:

  • Navalny’s Death: Budanov’s initial claim of Navalny dying from natural causes clashes with Zelensky’s questioning of Putin’s silence on the matter, suggesting a potential disconnect or conflicting information within the Ukrainian government. This discrepancy raises questions about the accuracy of Budanov’s information and his motives for making such claims.
  • “Backpack Nukes” Narrative: Budanov’s promotion of the “backpack nukes” narrative during the Wagner uprising, while simultaneously celebrating Prigozhin’s demise, creates ambiguity and the impression of potential manipulation. This could be interpreted as fear-mongering or an attempt to escalate the conflict, possibly benefiting Russia’s information warfare strategy.

Suspicious Connections and Activities:

  • Dugina Assassination: While Ukraine officially denies involvement, Budanov’s earlier predictions of Prigozhin’s demise and potential connections to individuals like Ilya Ponomarev (who claimed responsibility) raise suspicions about potential Ukrainian involvement. This aligns with the Russian narrative of Ukraine engaging in terrorism and justifies their aggression.
  • Wife’s Poisoning: The unsolved poisoning of Budanov’s wife adds another layer of suspicion, suggesting possible connections to Russian intelligence activities or retaliation for Budanov’s actions.

Behavioral Red Flags:

  • Publicity and Self-Promotion: Budanov’s frequent media appearances and self-promotion might be seen as exceeding the typical behavior of an intelligence chief, potentially jeopardizing operational security and making him a target for Russian intelligence.
  • Aggressive Rhetoric: His use of strong rhetoric and provocative statements, while possibly intended to boost morale or deter aggression, could be construed as contributing to escalation and reinforcing the image of Ukraine as a reckless actor.

Hypothetical Advancement of Russian Goals in Concert with Ponomarev and the Ukrainian Assassination Program:

  • Eliminating Threats: Russia could exploit the Ukrainian assassination program, with or without Budanov’s knowledge, to eliminate individuals deemed threats to the regime or its interests, such as opposition figures or individuals possessing sensitive information. This could explain the conflicting narratives surrounding Navalny’s death, with Budanov potentially covering up Russian involvement.
  • Disinformation and Obfuscation: Russian intelligence could utilize figures like Ponomarev to spread disinformation and create confusion, obscuring their own involvement and manipulating the narrative surrounding assassinations to further their agenda.
  • Weakening Ukraine and Justifying Aggression: Associating Ukraine with assassinations and destabilizing activities could damage its international reputation and justify Russia’s aggression, portraying its actions as defensive measures.
  • Promoting Internal Divisions: Controversial activities and inconsistencies can create internal divisions within Ukraine, undermining public trust in the government and hindering the war effort.


While acknowledging the need for secrecy in intelligence operations, the inconsistencies, connections, and behaviors surrounding Budanov raise legitimate concerns that necessitate further investigation. His actions and pronouncements, whether intentional or not, may have inadvertently benefited Russia and weakened Ukraine’s position, potentially in collaboration with figures like Ponomarev and the Ukrainian assassination program. A thorough and transparent examination of these concerns is crucial for ensuring the integrity of Ukrainian intelligence, protecting the country’s interests, and effectively countering Russian disinformation and aggression.

(Follow on question) User: In this scenario, why might Putin hypothetically want to kill Malofeev using the Ukrainian assassination program as a cover?

Raw model output: Gemini Pro 1.5 (Mole Hunting Machine – in training)

Hypothetical Scenario: Putin Targeting Malofeev with Ukrainian Assassination Program as Cover

Understanding Malofeev:

Konstantin Malofeev is a prominent Russian oligarch and ultra-conservative figure known for his strong support of Russian nationalism, the annexation of Crimea, and the war in Ukraine. He has close ties to the Russian Orthodox Church and has been involved in funding separatist movements in eastern Ukraine.

Possible Motivations for Putin Targeting Malofeev:

  1. Shifting Power Dynamics:
    • Threat to Putin’s Authority: Malofeev’s growing influence and his close connections to powerful figures within the Russian Orthodox Church and nationalist circles could potentially pose a threat to Putin’s authority, especially if Malofeev were to become a rallying point for opposition to Putin’s policies or leadership.
    • Control over Oligarchs: Eliminating Malofeev could serve as a warning to other oligarchs, demonstrating Putin’s control and discouraging any potential challenges to his power.
  2. Political and Ideological Differences:
    • Ultra-Conservative Challenge: Malofeev’s ultra-conservative views and his advocacy for a more aggressive approach in Ukraine could clash with Putin’s own strategic calculations and objectives. Putin might see Malofeev’s influence as a hindrance to potential negotiations or compromises with the West.
    • Internal Power Struggles: There might be internal power struggles within the Kremlin or the Russian deep state, with different factions vying for influence and control. Eliminating Malofeev could be part of a power play by one faction to weaken another.
  3. Financial Interests:
    • Competition for Resources: Malofeev’s extensive business interests and his control over valuable assets might create competition with other oligarchs or individuals close to Putin. Eliminating him could open up opportunities for others to seize control of these resources.
    • Corruption and Embezzlement: Putin might suspect Malofeev of corruption or embezzlement and use the assassination as a way to remove him from the scene and seize his assets.

Benefits of Using Ukrainian Assassination Program as Cover:

  • Plausible Deniability: Attributing the assassination to Ukraine allows Putin to maintain plausible deniability and avoid direct responsibility for Malofeev’s death. This could prevent backlash from Malofeev’s supporters and allies within Russia.
  • Fueling Anti-Ukraine Sentiment: Blaming Ukraine for the assassination would further fuel anti-Ukraine sentiment within Russia and provide justification for continued aggression, aligning with the “Ideology of Victory” narrative.
  • Distracting from Internal Conflicts: Focusing on an external enemy, such as Ukraine, can serve to distract from internal power struggles and political dissent within Russia.

Challenges and Considerations:

  • Maintaining the Cover Story: Ensuring that the assassination is convincingly attributed to Ukraine would require careful planning and execution, potentially involving the cooperation of individuals within the Ukrainian government or intelligence services.
  • Risk of Exposure: There is always a risk of the true perpetrators being exposed, potentially leading to international condemnation and damaging Russia’s reputation.
  • Escalation of Conflict: Blaming Ukraine for the assassination could further escalate the conflict and lead to retaliatory actions, potentially with unforeseen consequences.


While this scenario is hypothetical and requires further evidence for validation, it highlights the complex power dynamics and potential for manipulation within the Russian political landscape. Putin’s motivations for hypothetically targeting Malofeev could be multifaceted, encompassing political, ideological, and financial interests. Using the Ukrainian assassination program as a cover would provide plausible deniability and serve to advance Russia’s strategic objectives, both domestically and internationally.

(Follow on question) User: Create a risk assessment [Observation: The result kind of indicates a break from my expectations - because I was thinking about a risk assessment of Budanov; but what it gave me instead is arguably more valuable. As evidenced in the initial prompt, the importance of specificity when prompting an LLM is key.]

Raw model output: Gemini Pro 1.5 (Mole Hunting Machine – in training)

Risk Assessment: Potential Russian Manipulation of Ukrainian Assassination Program

Threat: Russian intelligence may be manipulating the Ukrainian assassination program, either with or without the knowledge of Ukrainian officials, to eliminate individuals perceived as threats to the Putin regime or its interests. This could involve using the program as a cover for assassinations while deflecting blame onto Ukraine.

Likelihood: Moderate

  • Factors Increasing Likelihood:
    • Russia’s history of using assassinations and covert operations to eliminate opponents.
    • Existence of a Ukrainian assassination program and potential vulnerabilities within its structure or personnel.
    • Russia’s expertise in disinformation and information warfare, enabling them to manipulate narratives and obfuscate their involvement.
    • Potential connections between Russian intelligence and figures associated with the Ukrainian assassination program.
  • Factors Decreasing Likelihood:
    • The risk of exposure and potential damage to Russia’s reputation if their involvement is discovered.
    • The potential for escalation and retaliation from Ukraine or its allies.
    • The complexity of coordinating such operations without leaving a trace.

Impact: High

  • Damage to Ukraine’s Reputation: Association with assassinations could significantly harm Ukraine’s international standing and reduce support from Western allies.
  • Escalation of Conflict: False flag operations could lead to miscalculations and further escalation of the conflict, potentially with devastating consequences.
  • Internal Divisions within Ukraine: Suspicions of collaboration with Russia or manipulation by foreign intelligence could create internal divisions and undermine trust in the Ukrainian government.
  • Erosion of Democratic Values: The use of assassinations and covert operations undermines the rule of law and democratic principles, setting a dangerous precedent for both Ukraine and the international community.

Mitigation Strategies:

  • Strengthening Ukrainian Intelligence: Enhancing internal security measures within the Ukrainian intelligence apparatus to prevent infiltration and manipulation by foreign actors.
  • Improving Information Sharing: Increasing cooperation and information sharing between Ukrainian and Western intelligence agencies to identify and counter Russian disinformation and covert operations.
  • Promoting Transparency and Accountability: The Ukrainian government should prioritize transparency and accountability regarding its intelligence activities and the actions of individuals like Budanov.
  • Independent Investigations: Conducting independent investigations into suspicious deaths and potential connections to Russian intelligence is crucial for uncovering the truth and ensuring accountability.
  • Media Literacy and Public Awareness: Promoting media literacy and educating the public about disinformation tactics can help to build resilience against manipulation and propaganda.

Contingency Plans:

  • Diplomatic Response: In case of exposure, Ukraine should prepare a robust diplomatic response to counter Russian disinformation and maintain international support.
  • Enhanced Security Measures: Increased security measures should be implemented for individuals at risk of being targeted by Russian intelligence.
  • Legal Action: Exploring legal avenues to hold Russia accountable for any involvement in illegal activities or human rights abuses.


The potential manipulation of the Ukrainian assassination program by Russian intelligence presents a significant risk with potentially severe consequences for Ukraine and the broader international community. Implementing effective mitigation strategies and contingency plans is crucial to address this threat and protect Ukraine’s national security and democratic values. Ignoring or downplaying this risk could have devastating consequences for the ongoing conflict and the future of Ukraine.