Did Russian media footage prove fake war casualties in Ukraine?

A state TV news network in Russia continued to stoke claims of “fake” fabrications created by Ukrainians to accuse Russia of war crimes and atrocities, and broadcast a new video that insisted it was evidence of such conspiracies.

The claim

A report Rossiya24, one of Russia’s two main state-run TV channels, seen by tens of millions of viewers inside and outside Russia, reportedly showed Ukrainian soldiers dressing up a mannequin to be allegedly used in the “theater of war” in Ukraine.

“Here you can see the preparations for the ‘theater’ – literally – of wartime activities in Ukraine,” says the anchor. “As you can see for yourself, it’s not complicated. Two men in military fatigues wrap this doll in tape with the clear aim of representing it as a corpse.”

The newsreader then vaguely and without justification claims that “dozens of fakes with such mannequins appear on Ukrainian Telegram channels”.

The news segment, which aired on Thursday evening or Friday morning, was later also released by the network’s online streaming platform on Friday, April 8 – and later deleted.

But the clip quickly spread across a network of pro-Russian Telegram channels and other social media, supporting the false narrative that horrific scenes emerging from Ukraine were simply staged.

The facts

The Russian government and national media have previously denied claims that they were behind the mass deaths of civilians in Bucha and other cities in the Kyiv region abandoned by Russian forces last week.

It has been claimed that Ukrainian forces and international media conspired to “fake” bodies on the streets of Bucha and that the attack was a “provocation” by the West. His claims were debunked in a recent fact check from news week.

People walk through rubble and destroyed Russian military vehicles on a street in Bucha, Ukraine, April 06, 2022. The Ukrainian government has accused Russian forces of committing a “premeditated massacre” as they occupied Bucha, 25 km northwest of Kyiv, and eventually withdrew. Russian media used footage out of context to mislead audiences about the killing of Ukrainian citizens.
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

The latest video adds to the mass of disinformation pouring out of Russia about the tragic events in Ukraine.

The footage, presented as “evidence” of Ukraine’s conspiracy to “fake” the deaths of its citizens, was actually footage from a Russian TV show filmed in Russia in Vsevolozhsk, near Saint Petersburg, a few weeks ago.

This fact was pointed out to her by the deputy director of the project, Nadezhda Kolobaeva Facebook page, on Friday morning.

“Recently Rossiya24 aired their ‘debunks’ of Ukrainian fakes. And what do you think? They said: ‘Two Ukrainians in military uniforms are wrapping this doll in scotch tape to represent it as a corpse.’ but [the footage] was shot by us in Vsevolozhsk on March 20th to show someone falling out of a window for our TV show. The men are stunt coordinators outside, preparing little Albert for the scene,” Kolobaeva wrote.

She also shared an image of the location of the scene where the “body” was supposed to hit the floor, with prop blood sprayed across the floor, along with other photos and videos from the set.

The video used by Rossiya24 is overlaid with a watermark referencing the U_G_M Telegram channel. This pro-Russian channel actually published it clip on April 6 and claimed it showed the AFU “preparing another stunt video and then blaming it on Putin.”

A voice behind the camera comments in Russian: “Poor guy, he’s about to fall out the window.”

While Rossiya24 has yet to address allegations of misleading its audience, Roman Super, a Russian journalist who spotted the misleading report, said he was told by channel staff that “the news team received a tip [to the footage]but neither the news editor nor the producer knew it wasn’t from Ukraine.”

news week asked Rossiya24 for comment.

The regulation

Fact Check - False

NOT CORRECT.

The video, which Russian state television claimed showed a covert attempt to stage a photo op with a dummy “playing” a corpse with the aim of frame Russian troops for killing civilians, was actually from a film set. The TV show’s assistant director said the dummy was used for a scene where someone falls out of a window and shared additional footage and images from the film set.

NEWSWEEK FACT CHECK

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