On July 7, Russia’s first deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Dmitry Polyanskiy, posted on Twitter a video clip that he claimed was found on a mobile phone abandoned by a “Ukrainian army propagandist” in the city of Lysychansk, which recently fell to Russia.
“In this video the Ukrainian officer swears that his colleagues hastily did many things wrong with the set up: placed the corpses in a wrong way, brought too few women, some of the ‘corpses’ move etc.,” Polyanskiy tweeted in a thread alleging that Ukraine staged the mass killing of civilians in the city of Bucha near Kyiv.
The claim that the video is proof that Ukraine staged the Bucha killings is false. The video is fabricated.
Polyanskiy noted in his Twitter thread that the video was originally published by “Za-grany” – a Russian-language Telegram channel with more than 81,000 subscribers specializing on distributing anti-Ukrainian content.
The “Za-grany” video shows two or three men in a room wearing what appear to be military uniforms. One of them is sitting in front of two desktop computers, with an image of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy displayed on one screen and the blurry image of what appears to be a video editing program on the other.
In a mixture of Russian and Ukrainian, the men complain that the Bucha “massacre is not properly staged,” that “the corpses are moving,” and that there are “too few women.” They also express a strong dislike of Zelenskyy.
It is not possible to identify the men in the room on the video because two are only shown briefly and partially, below their shoulders, while the "video editor" either faces away from the camera or covers his face with his hand.
Digital forensic analyses performed using four different publicly available tool sets showed that the video was created on July 7, 2022 – the same day it was shared by the Russian U.N. representative and more than three months after the first videos showing dead bodies lying on the streets of Bucha emerged on April 1.
The bodies were discovered after Russian troops pulled out of the city, which they had occupied for a month.
Voice of America’s Ukrainian service concluded that the people shown in the video were likely not native Ukrainian speakers but were “unnaturally trying to speak surzhyk” – a pidgin language that combines elements of Ukrainian and Russian.”
Polygraph.info’s video producer reviewed the displays of the two desk top computers shown in the video and concluded that it is a poor imitation of the editing process. During actual editing using two displays, those screens must be synchronized, with one displaying source video material and the other displaying an actual video editing program. In the “Za-grany” video, one of the screens displays a still photograph of President Zelenskyy while the other displays an editing program that looks like Velocity – a basic video software mainly used to produce amateur videos.
The United Nations launched an independent investigation of possible Russian war crimes in Bucha.
Russia denies the allegations, falsely claiming that Ukrainian authorities faked the Bucha killings or killed civilians themselves and then blamed Russia.