The Russian media campaign has denounced Bucha’s death as fake

WASHINGTON (AP) – Kremlin-backed media are denouncing the Kremlin-backed media as a “widespread deception” after horrific videos and pictures of corpses surfaced in the suburbs of Kyiv – a statement that Ukrainian journalists have denied.

False reporting tactics used by Moscow over the years to denounce or mislead the news and to weaken its opponents have been refined with the advent of social media in places like Syria.

In a detailed broadcast to millions of viewers, reporters and hosts on Russia’s state TV channel said Tuesday that some photos and video evidence of the killings were fake while others showed that Ukrainians were responsible for the bloodshed.

“Among the first to appear were these Ukrainian shots, which show how a soulless body suddenly moves its hand,” Russia-1 reported in a report broadcast on Monday evening. “And in the rearview mirror, it’s noticeable that the dead seem to be starting to rise again.”

But satellite images from early March show the dead have been lying on the streets of Bukhara for weeks. On April 2, a Ukrainian lawyer posted online a video taken from a moving vehicle showing the same corpses scattered on Yablonska Street in Bucha. Bucha’s high-resolution satellite imagery from commercial provider Maxer Technology, reviewed by the Associated Press, matched the location of the corpse individually with individual videos of the scene. Other western media have reported similarly.

Over the weekend, AP reporters saw the bodies of dozens of people in Bucha, many of them shot at close range, and some with their hands tied behind their backs. At least 13 bodies were found in and around a building that residents said was used as a base for Russian troops before they retreated last week.

Yet Russian officials and the state media continue to propagate their own details, parroting it in newspapers and on radio and television. A top news item on the website of the popular Kremlin newspaper, Komsomolskaya Pravda, pinned the genocide in Ukraine, with a story that claimed “further irrefutable evidence that the ‘Buchate genocide’ was carried out by Ukrainian forces.”

An opinion column published by the state news agency RIA Novosti on Tuesday speculated that the Bucha assassination was a plot by the West to impose tougher sanctions on Russia.

Analysts note that this is not the first time that the Kremlin has used such an information warfare tactic in a coordinated campaign around the world to deny any wrongdoing and spread confusion in the six-week-old invasion of Ukraine.

“Russia does this whenever it acknowledges that it has been subjected to a PR disaster through brutality,” said Keir Giles, a senior consulting fellow at the Chatham House think tank on Russia and the Eurasia program.

Prior to the war, Russia denied US intelligence reports that it was planning to invade Ukraine. Last month, Russian officials tried to disrespect AP photos and reporting after a bomb blast at a maternity hospital in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, killing a pregnant woman and her unborn child.

Photos and videos from Bucha have started a new wave of condemnation and revolt worldwide.

Following his video appearance at the UN Security Council on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky counted the killings in Bucha by Russian troops and showed graphic videos of burnt and decomposing corpses there and in other cities. Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzia has fired them.

Across social media, more than a dozen official Russian Twitter and telegram accounts, as well as a chorus of state-backed media Facebook pages, repeated the Kremlin line that pictures and videos of the dead had been staged or a hoax. Claims were made in English, Spanish and Arabic on accounts run by Russian officials or from Russian-backed news outlets Sputnik and RT. Spanish-language RT en Español has sent more than a dozen posts to its 18 million followers.

“Russia denies killing civilians in Buchate near Kiev,” RT en Español Post reported on Sunday.

The same account attempts to refute several claims that Russian troops carried out the assassination by pointing to a video of Bucha Mayor Anatoly Fedorok, taken March 31, in which he spoke of liberation from Russian occupation of the suburbs.

He confirmed that the Russian troops had left Bucha. There is no mention of dead bodies on the streets, “top Russian official Mikhail Ulyanov tweeted on Monday.

But Fedoruk publicly commented on the violence in an interview with the Italian news agency Adoncronos on March 28, before the Russian troops left, where he accused them of killing and raping Buchate.

In a March 7 AP interview, Federuk spoke of the accumulation of bodies in Bucha: “We cannot even collect bodies because the firing of heavy weapons does not stop day or night. Dogs are dragging corpses through the city streets. It’s a nightmare. “

Satellite imagery of Maxar Technologies shows at least five corpses on a street, backing up Fedoruk’s account of the corpses on the streets when Russian troops occupied Bucha on March 18 and 19.

Some social media platforms have tried to limit propaganda and confusion from the Kremlin. By blocking Google’s RT accounts, in Europe, RT and Sputnik were banned by technology company Meta, which also stopped promoting or expanding Russian-state media pages on its platforms, including Facebook and Instagram.

Russia has found a way to avoid the crackdown by posting in different languages ​​through dozens of official Russian social media accounts.

Brett Schaefer, head of the Alliance’s information manipulation team, said: “It’s a huge messaging device that Russia controls – whether it’s a government embassy account, a bot or toll account or an anti-Western influencer – they have many ways to avoid platform restrictions.” A non-partisan think tank.

(Copyright (c) 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

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