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“A second bucha is being made out of vovchansk”. How Russian propagandists use photos by Ukrainian documentary filmmakers to hide the murder of civilians in Vovchansk

Vovchansk, Kharkiv region. May 20, 2024. Photo by Kostiantyn and Vlada Liberov


In the Russian-Ukrainian war, photography is not only a valuable and truthful document of events, but also a weapon that is actively used for their own purposes to misinform and distort facts. The Ukrainian Association of Professional Photographers is starting to work on the section “Is it true?”, where it will check the authenticity of certain manipulations of information by referring to the original source.


Vovchansk, Kharkiv region. May 20, 2024. Photo by Kostiantyn and Vlada Liberov


“Staged photo from a drone”


Ukrainian documentary photographers Kostiantyn and Vlada have been recording the consequences of the Russian troops' breakthrough in the Vovchansk sector of Kharkiv region for several days in a row.


As a reminder, at around 5 a.m. on May 10, the enemy tried to break through the Ukrainian defense in the Kharkiv region in two places. The Ukrainian Defense Forces met the Russians with fire. The Ukrainian Armed Forces continue to hold the line. However, civilians living in Vovchansk and the surrounding areas came under intense fire. The Russians attacked Ukrainians, sparing no expense with various types of shells and bombs.


While in Vovchansk, Kostya and Vlada saw “the city filled with death, and the bodies of civilians under the rubble and just on the street.” The photographers documented the bodies of two civilian women lying dead on the ground.


"The second and third photos show the bodies of two civilian women. Next to them, there are two small specific craters, and anyone who examines them immediately realizes that it is not an accidental mine or artillery. With a 90% probability, these are targeted drops from a drone. Women in bright clothes. It is impossible to confuse them with the military even from a height. I've already heard about this in Krynky: the military told me how the Russians were chasing an old man who somehow miraculously found himself among these ruins,” the Liberovs wrote on their Instagram page.



Yulia Vityazeva, a Kremlin propagandist and native of Odesa, reacted to these photos. She posted a photo of the two murdered Ukrainian women in her telegram, saying that it was “a staged photo from a drone, taken solely to once again accuse Russia and ask for weapons from the masters.”



"In fact, the women in the photo do not look like the murdered. Their clothes are intact, there are no traces of blood. After a mine or artillery, the picture would be different. Unfortunately, we already know what the dead look like. Too often we have seen the horrific images of the consequences of Ukrainian air strikes on our civilians. And here is a staged photo from a drone. It was made solely to accuse Russia once again and ask for weapons from the hosts. In general, years go by, but the methods and techniques do not change. Simply because they work. Unfortunately,” commented Yulia Vityazeva, a Kremlin propagandist from the Solovyev Live channel.


The Liberovs, in turn, responded to Vitiazeva. "Indeed, years go by, and we never get used to the level of their cynicism. The only thing we can't disagree with is that Vovchansk is being turned into a second Bucha, and the Russians themselves, as you can see, are already publicly recognizing this,” Kostya and Vlada commented in a telegram.



To recap, propagandist Vityazeva of the Solovyov Channel, who fled Ukraine, was sentenced in absentia to 11 years in prison. This was reported by the Security Service of Ukraine on November 30, 2023. According to the investigation, after moving to Moscow in 2015, she began publicly spreading fakes about the socio-political situation in Ukraine. Under the pseudonym Yulia Vityazeva, she repeatedly supported the occupiers on the propaganda channel Solovyev Live. She also became a “columnist” for the News Front news agency, which was created in the temporarily occupied Crimea. In addition, the collaborator was one of the first to justify the Russians after the explosion of the Kakhovka nuclear power plant. The court found her guilty under two articles of the Criminal Code of Ukraine: Part 6 of Article 111-1 (collaboration); Part 2 and Part 3 of Article 436-2 (justification, recognition of legitimacy, denial of Russian armed aggression against Ukraine, glorification of its participants). She was sentenced to 11 years in prison with confiscation of property.


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