03 February 2017

The new brave photoshopped world

This story started with an e-mail I got from a good and well meaning friend. Here is a snapshot of the e-mail contents (click to enlarge):

The text says:
It is the anniversary of Stepan Bandera. Kyiv, January 2, 2017.
And, after this New Year procession in the capital's center, Ukraine is dreaming of help from America?
I do not even want to comment on, it's all out there ...
The mind of anyone even briefly familiar with the pro-Nazi sympathies of many Ukrainians during the WW II, with their cooperation with the Nazis and with the name of Stepan Bandera, will be easily triggered. The rightful wrath will follow inevitably, as it happened in my case, of course.

Something bothered me in the picture, though. Was it just too much to be easily believed? Or was it a feeling of proportions that were somehow wrong, if you consider the size of the depicted crowds when compared to the Christmas tree and to the size of the building in the background? I am not sure, but I have decided to do some googling with that photograph as a search item. And here are the results:
  1. It is not Kyiv (the Ukrainian capital). It is Mariupol (map at the end of the post), a city in the Donetsk Oblast, one of the targets of the Russian expansion westward and the Russian/Ukrainian strife.
  2. The date in question is not January 2, 2017 but January 16, 2015.
  3. The occasion for the gathering is not the anniversary of Stepan Bandera. It is a final gathering at the end of the procession in memory of 12 or so Ukrainians, killed in a small town near Volnovakha, on January 13, 2015, during an attack on an passenger bus at a checkpoint. Killed, needless to add, by either Russian soldiers or their allies among the Ukrainian secessionists.
And here is a video recording of the gathering in Mariupol:

You can judge by yourself the real size of the crowd, the size of the place and other proportions.
Notice that the unknown Russian Photoshop fiend used a snapshot from this same recording.

The fake picture spread like bush fire on Twitter and on various Russian and other social networks. Here is a snapshot of a single page from Google, there are many more pages with this same doctored photograph, all in all hundreds if not thousands copies.

What else can I add to the story? Well, it should be said that Ukrainian media frequently does the same to the other side, so it has become literally impossible to believe either, without having a solid confirmation from a third party. Oh, and of course, Stepan Bandera is indeed a sort of a saint for many Ukrainians to this day, and no worries on that account...

Map of Ukraine, with Mariupol accented (and Kyiv present, quite far away, too).