Fact Check: 'Ukrainian Soldiers' Do NOT Terrorize Woman And Child -- Video Was Staged In Occupied Donetsk

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: 'Ukrainian Soldiers' Do NOT Terrorize Woman And Child -- Video Was Staged In Occupied Donetsk Propaganda Vid

Did two Ukrainian soldiers driving a vehicle with a Ukrainian flag and a Nazi-style straight-armed cross on the tailgate stop a woman driving on a rural road and argue with her because she spoke Russian -- and then as she and her child became increasingly panicked and cried, did one of the soldiers fire a gun several times in her direction? No, that's not true: The narrative in this video, where the woman and child are never seen on camera, is anti-Ukrainian propaganda. The strongest point casting doubt on the scenario is the geolocation by experienced open source investigators of this confrontation -- it lies within the Hirnytsky District of Makiivka in Donetsk, which was under Russian occupation at the time the video was posted. As such, this road would not be patrolled by Ukrainian soldiers.

The video was posted on March 27, 2023, to Telegram by the Russian online news site Readovka. The video was accompanied by a long descriptive caption in Russian language. The Google translation of the caption to English reads:

'Scum, give me documents' - a militant of the Armed Forces of Ukraine stopped a car with a mother and child for 'violating traffic rules', and then fired at the car for speaking in Russian

In the video, filmed in the frontline zone, the AFU militants stopped a car in which a girl with a small child was traveling. The Ukrainian militant inappropriately began to knock on the car so that the girl gave him her documents. The reason for the stop was that her car overtook a military convoy.

This is how the post appeared at the time of writing:
(Image source: Telegram screenshots taken on Tue Mar 28 18:23:55 2023 UTC)

The caption (translated) continues:

The girl asked the military man to speak appropriately, but, apparently, the Ukrainian army does not understand such words. When she spoke to him in Russian, the Nazi called her 'a pig, stupid and filthy.' In the end, the mother of a small child began to become hysterical and panic, but the gunman did not stop there either - he stood next to the car and fired several times, which frightened the baby very much.

At the end of the video, both the girl and the child can be heard screaming loudly. The insignia on the vehicle of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are also noteworthy - it was with such signs that the Nazis designated themselves, who destroyed the Russian people on the territory of the USSR during the Great Patriotic War.

On March 27, 2023, the video was shared on Twitter (archived here) by the Russian Embassy, U.K. The tweet was captioned:

🇺🇦military stop a woman with her baby for allegedly violating traffic rules. After hearing her speak Russian & finding out she is a Muslim, the 'brave' Ukrainian: shouts at, threatens, insults her, calls her 'pig', scares her baby, fires several shots. #TruthonUkraine

The video was also shared and deleted without retraction (archived here) by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia. The deleted MFA tweet was captioned:

#Think4Yourself #See4Yourself
Once a Nazi always a Nazi 👇
This is the kind of terror Ukrainians are living in: witness Ukrainian military berate and shoot at a mother with a child in the backseat, calling her 'pig' & 'scum' simply for... speaking Russian
No Nazis, they say...

Open source analysts went to work locating the place that appears in the video. The Telegram channel "Moscow calling" shared a photo they say they received from a Donetsk resident who went to the location (47.9769473, 37.9534718) in the Hirnytsky District of Makiivka. They took a photo of the distinctive tree branches hanging over the road in the video. This gave open source analysts a visual signature to focus their verification efforts.

Tatarigami_UA, whose Twitter bio reads, "Ukrainian military officer. Currently in reserves. Coordinator. Opinions are my own." posted a thread on Twitter on March 27, 2023, that explains the reasons Tatarigami believes this video is staged. The thread includes geolocation highlights. This account has the blue check of a Twitter Blue subscriber, but the account owner's identity has not been verified by Lead Stories. @Tatarigami_UA then enlisted the help of @EjShahid, a volunteer with GeoConfirmed, who contributed an aerial photo with geolocation markups (pictured below) aligning with still frames pulled from the video.


(Image source: Twitter screenshot taken on Tue Mar 28 22:06:24 2023 UTC)

Volunteers working with geoconfirmed.org also assembled an extensive thread of their own featuring multiple points; the high-voltage power line towers, a lamp post, the intersection, trees and shrubs and even the angle of the sun that cast a shadow -- confirming the direction the video had been filmed. Both threads pointed to the same place -- from the Donetsk resident's photo and coordinates, a T intersection of roads between farm fields in the Hirnytsky District of Makiivka to the east of the city of Donetsk.

Pictured below is the third tweet in the @Tatarigami_UA thread. The referenced map shows the territory currently under Russian occupation in pink and the video location with a blue pin. This is a live updated map from the analysis channel @Deepstate_UA and may change from the March 27, 2023, @Tatarigami_UA screenshot pictured below. The tweet is captioned:

3/ The identified location, 47.9769473, 37.9534718, is situated deep within the occupied territory of Donetsk, as can be seen on the DeepState map.


(Image source: Twitter screenshot taken on Tue Mar 28 22:06:24 2023 UTC)

A map of similar design is a Ukraine Control map made by @projectowlosint. Lead Stories added a black arrow to a screenshot of the map pointing to the location where the video was shot. This link takes you to a zoomed-in and detailed view of the exact location on the live map online.


(Image source: GoogleMyMaps screenshot taken on Tue Mar 28 22:06:24 2023 UTC)

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  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


Read more about or contact Sarah Thompson

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