Fact Check: RT Did NOT Publish Article Saying 'Post-Vaccine Myocarditis' Affected Pilot In Plane Crash That Killed Yevgeny Prigozhin

Fact Check

  • by: Lead Stories Staff
Fact Check: RT Did NOT Publish Article Saying 'Post-Vaccine Myocarditis' Affected Pilot In Plane Crash That Killed Yevgeny Prigozhin Fake Headline

Did RT, a Russian state news organization, publish a headline saying that the plane whose crash killed Yevgheny Prigozhin was piloted by a person suffering "post-vaccine myocarditis"? No, that's not true: There is no evidence that RT ever published such a story about the August 23, 2023, plane crash that killed Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the Wagner group, a Russian mercenary group that rebelled against the Russian military on June 23, 2023.

The claim appeared in an article (archived here) published on X, formerly known as Twitter, on August 23, 2023. The post included an image that looked like a screenshot of an article from RT, headlined:"Prigozhin pilot had post-vaccine myocarditis, heart attack may be be cause of crash." The text in the tweet read:


This is what the post looked like on the X platform at the time of writing:

prigozhin pilot fake RT article tweet.png

(Source: X screenshot taken on Wed Aug 30 14:43:06 2023 UTC)

No cause has been established for the plane crash

On August 23, 2023, an executive jet crashed in an area outside of Moscow. The passenger list included Prigozhin's name. While there has been speculation that there was an intentional attack against the aircraft that led to the deaths of all of the passengers on board, no official cause of the crash has been released at the time of this writing. Directly before leading the uprising, Prigozhin was an unofficial associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Following the rebellion, Putin openly criticized Prigozhin.

Lead Stories searched for more information about the pilot of the plane that crashed. While the Russian aviation agency identified the captain as Alexei Levshin and the co-piot as Rustam Karimov, the agency did not specify whether Levshin or Karimov had a heart attack.

No article with that headline on RT's website

Lead Stories searched for an article with that headline on RT's website. The search generated no results. Searching for some of the keywords that were included in the supposed article also did not show any matching results.

The latest archived version on the Wayback Machine of RT's website homepage on August 23, 2023, did not include an article that focused on the pilots' medical conditions.

Shayan Sardarizadeh, a journalist for BBC Verify, noted that the screenshot was fake in a post published on the X platform on August 24, 2023.

Lead Stories reached out to RT for comment on the claim. We will update the story with any response.

COVID-19 vaccines are considered safe

The subheadline of the supposed RT article read "Cases of myocarditis and pericarditis have been observed following receipt of COVID-19 vaccines. Evidence of multiple monitoring systems around the globe support a association between mRNA COVID-19 vaccines and myocarditis."

However, leading health organizations like the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have informed the public that such cases are rare and that the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination far outweigh the risks.

Other Lead Stories fact checks

More Lead Stories fact checks related to the war between Russia and Ukraine can be found here.

Other fact checks related to COVID-19 and the coronavirus pandemic can be found here.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.

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