Evidence shows that photographic evidence is being misused to “prove” the presence of Russian special forces in Eastern Ukraine. It is clear that corporate media are complicit, either through stupidity or design, in this attempt to mould perceptions of the situation in post-coup Ukraine.
According to a CNN report:
“Ukraine provided the photos to those observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, according to the briefing dossier obtained by CNN’s Elise Labott.”
“One image shows a gunman with a long beard during an assault on a police station in Kramatorsk who appears similar to a Russian special forces member photographed during the Russian invasion of Georgia.”
“Another shows gunmen photographed occupying administrative buildings in Slaviansk who appear similar to men pictured in what Ukrainian officials described as a “family photo” of a Russian sabotage and reconnaissance unit.”
With the use of Tineye it was possible to locate another version of the supposed “family photo” of “the sabotage reconnaissance group of the Chief Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces“(centre bottom in collage above) and some checking around the web eventually turned up the original photograph – which was uploaded to Instagram by photographer Maxim Dondyuk 10 days ago, tagged with the name of the town #Slavyansk:
It is also worth pointing out that Slavyansk and Kramatorsk are just 8.5 miles or 17 minutes apart by road.
The BBC quoted US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki as saying there was “broad unity in the international community about the connection between Russia and some of the armed militants in eastern Ukraine” and “The photos presented by the Ukrainians last week only further confirm this.”
It is also worth mentioning that the photos which the BBC says “purport to show the same Russian soldier (circled) in operations in Georgia in 2008 and Kramatorsk and Sloviansk in Ukraine in 2014” show a man with a reddish beard in Georgia in 2008 (centre, bottom below):
Whilst the man in Slavyansk/Kramatorsk has a grey/black beard – as is even clearer from this picture uploaded to instagram by Maxim Bondyuk earlier today:
Thanks to Lucas from the comments below (Update 25/04) here is a higher resolution version of the photo man with the red beard – which deminstartes he is clearly not the man in East Ukraine:
It is impossible to rule out the possibility special forces of various countries are present in Eastern Ukraine (the Russians were after all present in Crimea to create the conditions for a referendum as Vladimir Putin has admitted).
What is in question here is the tendency of the Western corporate media to unquestioningly pass on propaganda they receive via the US State Department, (even days after John Kerry was caught presenting fake anti-semitic leaflets as genuine), whilst simultaneously ignoring the clear evidence of a far right, fascist-influenced and Russophobe elite having seized power in most of the country:
The New York Times which also passed on the State Department propaganda to its readers, today published a retraction with the additional information that:
A packet of American briefing materials that was prepared for the Geneva meeting asserts that the photograph was taken in Russia. The same men are also shown in photographs taken in Ukraine. Their appearance in both photographs was presented as evidence of Russian involvement in eastern Ukraine. The packet was later provided by American officials to The New York Times, which included that description of the group photograph in an article and caption that was published on Monday.
According to the NYT: Jen Psaki, a State Department spokeswoman, acknowledged that the assertion that the photograph in the American briefing materials had been taken in Russia was incorrect.
The BBC have taken the route of rewriting their article and giving it a new headline. “Ukraine: Photos ‘show Russian troops’ in east” has now become “Ukraine crisis: What the ‘Russian soldier’ photos say” (Same URL)
Time magazine’s reporter Simon Shuster has tracked down the bearded man in the photos above, His name is apparently Alexander Mozhaev – he is a Cossack and a member of the “rapid reaction force of the local separatist militia.”