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Fact Check Report

Adam Hopkinson, Counter Threat Strategic Communications (CTSC) Team

Chloe Bissett, Editor

Week of Monday, October 17, 2022


Kyiv after Russian shelling[1]


Claim: Twitter user Maria Dubovikova shared a video that depicted a person with a head bandage taking a selfie, after an alleged Russian bomb attack. They claimed this person was a ‘western actor’ pretending to be injured and that the bombing had been staged for Western media. The post gained traction on social media with several other users also claiming the video to be staged.[2]

Facts:

  • Russian airstrikes occurred in Kyiv on October 10. 105 people were injured and 19 people were killed in Kyiv.[3]

  • The photos and videos of the accused actors/bomb victims were taken by Reuters photographer Efrem Lukatski. On October 10, he took photos of injured people at two missile strike sites in Kyiv, Shevkenko University and at an intersection.[4] The pictures and videos that were accused of being ‘fake news’ to advance Western narratives were cut from a 33-second video taken by Luktaski on an iPhone, where there was audio describing that the visible injuries were from broken glass from surrounding buildings.[5]

  • The video was confirmed to have been taken at a recent bomb attack on October 10, 2022. The 14-second video clip shared by social media users such as Dubovikova, was viewed more than 50,000 times on Twitter, and other social media platforms. The woman accused of being an actor was an actual wounded victim from Kyiv, who can be heard describing how she will send a picture of her injuries to her sister in Russia.[6]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The increasing spread of disinformation is likely a deliberate act to counter Western perceptions that Ukraine is an innocent party in the war, and Russia an aggressor deliberately attacking civilian areas. It is likely disinformation is being spread to alter these perceptions in favor of Russia’s official narrative regarding its motivations for the war, and to gain supporters in the West. Russia will almost certainly want to combat these negative perceptions as strengthening their narrative abroad reduces the likelihood of military personnel adopting the West’s narrative and refusing to fight once they are abroad.

  • The promotion of a narrative that the Western media’s portrayal of the conflict has been staged will likely influence individuals to adopt alternative, anti-West, or pro-Russian views, as the pblic will likely view Western governments and media as lying to achieve their own aims. The growing distrust of Western narratives on the war will likely increase the spread of disinformation, as individuals will continue to promote alternative narratives online and engage with others who share the same views. These online interactions will likely lead to an increased number of people sharing extremist views online. This increase in online extremist activity will likely increase the probability of attacks occurring in western countries, as there will be an increased number of people opposed to western ideologies and media publishings.

  • Casting doubt on the legitimacy of Russian airstrikes is likely an attempt to reduce Russian culpability should war crimes investigations occur. This is almost certainly a deliberate tactic employed by Russia to increase anonymity in their actions due to potential international intervention. Should these tactics be successful, they will likely decrease tensions with international actors and will reduce the likelihood of Russian economic sanctions increasing.

Verdict: FALSE

 

[1]Kyiv after Russian shelling” by National Police of Ukraine licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International

[2] Fact Check: ‘Staging’ of air attack victims in kyiv?, DW, October 2022, https://www.dw.com/en/fact-check-no-staging-of-air-attack-victims-in-kyiv/a-63469747

[3] Ibid

[4] Russia unleashes biggest attacks in Ukraine in months, Associated Press, October 2022 https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-kyiv-government-and-politics-8f625861590b9e0dd336dabc0880ac8c

[5] Fact Check: ‘Staging’ of air attack victims in kyiv?, DW, October 2022, https://www.dw.com/en/fact-check-no-staging-of-air-attack-victims-in-kyiv/a-63469747

[6] Ibid



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