Shaltai Boltai Twitter account

A judge in Moscow sentenced today Vladimir Anikeyev, the ringleader of a Russian hacking group known as Shaltai Boltai (Russian for "Humpty Dumpty") to two years in prison.

Authorities had accused Anikeyev of hacking and orchestrating attacks that stole and leaked personal correspondence from top Russian officials such as Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, George Gavrish, Timur Prokopenko, and other high-profile Kremlin figures in the Putin regime.

The group had operated between January 2014 and December 2016, when Russian intelligence services (FSB) had started arresting members left and right.

FSB dismantles group in the winter of 2016-2017

First, the FSB arrested Anikeyev in November 2016, along with two other Shaltai Boltai members, Konstantin Teplyakov and Alexander Filinov.

Two months later, Russian officials arrested a Kaspersky Lab employee, who worked in the past for the FSB. An FSB agent was arrested about the same time, and another FSB agent a month later in February 2017.

The case was judged behind closed doors due to treason charges, and the involvement of FSB intelligence officers and high-ranking government officials.

Group posed as hacktivists but secretly blackmailed targets

More information about the group's mode of operation came to light in February 2017, when the last remaining member of Shaltai Boltai, a man named Alexander Glazastikov, fled to Estonian where he is currently seeking asylum.

According to interviews he gave the Financial Times and The Guardian, the group was founded as a way to blackmail local politicians and leak personal correspondence if targets didn't pay.

Glazastikov says FSB agents located Anikeyev in May 2016, but instead of arresting him, they recruited him and allowed him to continue to operate if they received a right to veto upcoming leaks, and if they could leak their own materials via the group.

Glazastikov described these FSB agents as Anikeyev's handlers. It is believed these are the FSB agents arrested at the start of 2017.

The Shaltai Boltai persona has not published any new leaks after the arrests.

According to Russian news agency Interfax, Anikeyev reached a plea deal and was handed down a light sentence of only two years, with the eligibility of an early parole.