Fact Check: Photo Does NOT Show 'First 3 Shooters' From Crocus City Hall Attack In Moscow -- It's Evgeny Prigozhin In All Three

Fact Check

  • by: Uliana Malashenko
Fact Check: Photo Does NOT Show 'First 3 Shooters' From Crocus City Hall Attack In Moscow -- It's Evgeny Prigozhin In All Three 2023

Does a viral image show "3 shooters" identified as participants in a terror attack that took place at Crocus City Hall, a major music venue in Moscow, Russia, on March 22, 2024? No, that's not true: The pictures in question are all of one person and date to summer 2023. At the time, Russian pro-Kremlin media citing the Federal Security Service (FSB) claimed that the images all showed now-deceased Wagner mercenary army boss Evgeny Prigozhin wearing multiple wigs to disguise his identity.

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) on X where it was published on March 22, 2024. It opened:

Identified first 3 shooters from #Moscow shopping center #Crocus City Hall.

This is what it looked like at the time of writing:

Screen Shot 2024-03-22 at 7.14.09 PM.png

Twitter screenshot(Source: X screenshot taken on Sat Mar 23 23:14:09 2024 UTC)

The shared image, however, was unrelated to the terror attack at Moscow's concert hall on that day.

According to TinEye, the picture started to circulate on the internet in July 2023, more than half a year before the events on March 22, 2024:

Screen Shot 2024-03-22 at 8.40.29 PM.png

(Source: TinEye screenshot taken on Fri Mar 00:40:29 2024 UTC)

One of the first sources to show the images was a video report uploaded (archived here) to the website of a pro-Kremlin outlet, Izvestia. It discussed the findings allegedly discovered by Russia's Federal Security Service, also known as the FSB, during a raid on Prigozhin's home:

Screen Shot 2024-03-22 at 8.49.10 PM.png(Source: Iz.ru screenshot taken on Fri Mar 00:49:10 2024 UTC)

The images claimed to portray Prigozhin, then still alive and purported to be in hiding in Russia. They were published by media around the globe, including, for example, three UK outlets: the Times (archive here), the Spectator (archived here) and Daily Mail (archived here.)

Prigozhin, whose private army fought alongside Russian troops in Ukraine, died in a plane crash (archived here) in Russia in August 2023, two months after his failed march on Moscow and criticism of Russia's military leadership. After the march and before his death, he was variously said to be taking refuge in Belarus and also back in Russia.

Because he was already dead in March 2024, when the Crocus City Hall was attacked, he cannot be one of the shooters.

ISIS took responsibility for the terror attack in the Russian capital. Two U.S. sources told ABC News (archived here) that they don't see reasons to doubt that.

The shooting broke out about 8 p.m. Friday local time at one of the major concert venues in Moscow, located 13 miles away from the Kremlin.

According to Russia's Investigative Committee (archived here), at least 60 people died.

Other Lead Stories fact checks mentioning Russia can be found here.

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  Uliana Malashenko

Uliana Malashenko is a New York-based freelance writer and fact checker.

Read more about or contact Uliana Malashenko

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