One of the biggest pro-Kremlin disinformation and propaganda purveyors who posed online as a Russian Jewess from Lugansk turned out to be a middle-aged divorcee from New Jersey and a US Navy veteran. It was exposed by members of the North Atlantic Fella Organization (NAFO) online community, which is fighting Russian propaganda.
The propagandist with the nickname Donbass Devushka (at various times she also used the pseudonyms Mila Medvedev, @luganskforlife , CheburekiVibes, MeatballSubZero, YuGopnik, GhostofLugansk) has her own Telegram channel, Twitter and YouTube channel, where she uploads her podcast. She has about 135 thousand subscribers.
On Twitter, Donbass Devushka posted her filtered photos and wrote that her name was Mila.
The Donbass Devushka YouTube channel was created in July 2022, and the @LuganskforLife account appeared on Twitter a month later. The YouTube channel “girls from Donbass” is a collective of different people who do interviews and podcasts.
Members of the NAFO group compared photos and other information and found out that the real name of the “girl” is Sarah Beals, but she recently officially changed it to another, more Russian one. Beals is a former US Navy NCO recently retired from active duty, was born in the United States and lives in Oak Harbor, Washington, near Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, where she once served.
A March 2011 marriage certificate shows that Beals was born in Voorhees, New Jersey. Malcontent News spoke to her mother, who was unaware of her daughter's online activity or that she had recently officially changed her name. Beals' parents denied that they were emigrants from Russia or that Beals had any connection with the countries of the former Soviet Union, in particular the Russian Federation, Ukraine, or the self-proclaimed Lugansk or Donetsk People's Republics.
Beals joined the US Navy in November 2009, according to the US Department of Defense Personnel Data Center. In November 2022, her current status in the Navy ended. Her position on LinkedIn is that she worked for the Navy as a lawyer.
On Donbass social media, Devushka claimed that in 2014 she traveled between the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don and the Ukrainian city of Luhansk, while the Kiev regime was constantly killing the inhabitants of the city. In fact, Beals was suing her ex-husband in Oak Harbor at the time.
While serving in the Navy on Whidbey Island, Beals ran a Cascadia Aquatics store selling tropical fish and specialty foods imported from Poland. However, after the COVID-19 pandemic, she changed her profession and became a Russian propagandist aimed at a Western audience.
In June 2020, Beals appeared on the now-deleted edition of the co-op podcast Aquarium. A video recorded via Zoom showed her voice, face, and some details about the accessories in her home. Online investigators have focused on all three of these details, linking aspects of Beals' home decor to her current apartment, matching her face and voice to her alter ego.
On September 14, 2021, Washington State Patrol reported that an Audi SQ5 driven by Beals crashed into the back of a Ford Econoline van at high speed as she attempted to swerve onto a highway in the town of Coupeville. Beals and the driver of the van were injured and taken to the hospital.
The "Space with No Experts on Ukraine" Twitter account claimed that a former Navy officer claimed that Beals was fired for drunk driving in that incident. In a telephone conversation, her mother denied this. In court records, journalists did not find a previous criminal case in the Island County Supreme Court against Beals.
Beals herself claims that she was "kicked out" from the army because of her "leftist views". Former associates expressed concern about Beals' mental health and called her a hardened liar. Beals' mother claims that her daughter often made up stories.
After the car accident, Beals began to express her anti-American views more publicly, portraying "a girl from the Donbass". She poses as an expert on geopolitics and history, including a ResearchGate page with a photo of her that states that she is an online college student at the Arizona State University School of Politics and Global Studies. She claims on social media that she has two additional degrees, but her archived LinkedIn profile lists one degree from her time in the Navy.
When Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Beals created several Twitter accounts and added Telegram since April. By the summer of 2022, despite having an audience of only tens of thousands, she began hosting a podcast that featured American propagandists Jackson Hinkle, Scott Ritter, Garland Nixon and Russian state media journalist Fiorella Isabelle as guests. Some of the interviews took place while Beals was still on active duty in the Navy. In these podcasts, the “girl” diligently imitated a terrible Russian accent, which she forgot about from time to time.
She changed several Twitter accounts that had been suspended for violating community guidelines before using PelmeniPusha, which was created in July 2012. Over the course of a year, she built a small “disinformation empire” on Twitter and Telegram under her Donbass Devushka brand, with the description “a girl and a cat against the whole world.”
Her Telegram channel posts more “banned” content on Twitter, including memes, fake images, and ultra-violence: for example, joy over the murder of a retired US Marine who went to Ukraine as a foreign volunteer, graphic videos of dead Ukrainians and support for a video showing a Ukrainian prisoner of war being beheaded by Russian mercenaries from the PMC Wagner.
“Activity on these accounts and access to people like Jason Hinkle, Scott Ritter and Russian state media journalists indicate that Beals is part of a larger and more coordinated organization targeting Western audiences with Russian disinformation, anti-Semitism and racism. . It is unlikely that one person could do all this work on their own, ”wrote Malcontent News journalists.
The co-host of the Beals podcast is the man behind the deleted AZ Geopolitics channel. On April 13, he deleted his Telegram and Twitter accounts, saying his Telegram was being subjected to massive complaints. On the same day, Beals announced that going forward, AZ Geopolitics would be consistent with her personal brand.
In a jumble of posts, videos, and graphics, Beals claimed that English is her third language, second and first. She claimed to have been born and raised in Russia, in eastern Ukraine, and was an immigrant to the United States as a child. Social media users claimed that she misappropriated donations intended for the Russian army. Beals, on the other hand, insisted that she never made any fundraisers, and then revealed that she had raised a small amount for herself and her work. However, numerous posts on her social media profiles ask for money to be transferred to her via cryptocurrency, CashApp and other platforms so that she can donate funds to support Russia.
In January 2023, Airman First Class Jack Teixeira of the Massachusetts Air National Guard shared hundreds of classified documents on his Discord server. The Bellingcat investigation revealed the spread of documents from Teixeira's Discord to 4Chan, Telegram and Twitter. Two versions of key documents were circulated: one showed that Russian losses far exceeded those of Ukrainians, and the other, poorly edited version, showed the opposite. Belligcat claims that the rigged versions were created by the Telegram channel Donbass Devushka, but Beals denies this claim.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson used an edited version circulated on the "girls" Telegram channel to claim that Ukraine has a 7-to-1 troop loss ratio and is "losing the war." Forged versions were circulated by pro-Kremlin propagandists, and Donbass Devushka began supporting the well-known Rybar Z-channel. In November 2022, The Bell journalists found out that this channel received money from Prigozhin and may be connected to the FSB.
In a series of tweets and two lengthy Telegram posts, Beals confirmed some of the details of her past. She also claimed that the administrator of her Telegram channel shared top secret documents. She added that the images were removed after she discovered them, and the person who posted them was "punished." However, on April 14, images of the documents were still on her Telegram channel.