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How the Russians tried to justify the attack on the Kharkiv Epicenter in Tiktok

Photo by Vladyslav Krasnoshchek


The Ukrainian Association of Professional Photographers continues to work on the “Is it true?” section, where it will check the authenticity of certain manipulations of information by referring to the original source and communicating with eyewitnesses.


Disinformation campaign in Tiktok


On May 25, in the afternoon, Russians attacked the Epicenter construction hypermarket in a residential area of Kharkiv. More than 200 people were in the building at the time of the attack. The Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor's Office reported that after the rescue operations were completed, the death toll rose to 17 people. 13 victims were identified, including 10 hypermarket employees and three visitors. Forty-eight people were injured. Five people remain missing.


Photo by Vladyslav Krasnoshchek


However, on the day of the tragedy and several days after, experts of the Institute of Mass Information noticed a fake news campaign on the social network TikTok, claiming that Ukrainian military equipment was in the Kharkiv Epicenter before the Russian shelling. As proof of this, the authors of the video showed a photo that appeared in 2022. It allegedly shows military equipment at the Retroville shopping center in Kyiv, which Russia shelled on March 20, 2022. IMI analysts found at least five such videos, one of which was viewed more than a million times.


Screenshot of the Institute of Mass Media fake video in Tiktok


"The accounts that spread fake news mostly publish Russian propaganda and disinformation, which may point to a planned Russian fake news campaign about the shelling of the Epicenter in Kharkiv, alleging that Ukrainian military equipment was there. Such fakes are aimed primarily at the Russian domestic audience, saying that Russian troops only shell military targets in Ukraine. They are also aimed at a small part of the Ukrainian audience that tends to trust Russian propaganda,” the Institute of Mass Information said in a statement.


Photo by Vladyslav Krasnoshchek


What happened at the impact site?


Kharkiv-based photographer Vladislav Krasnoshchek, who documented the aftermath of the tragedy immediately after the strike during emergency rescue operations, confirms that the hypermarket was a purely civilian facility.


Photo by Vladyslav Krasnoshchek


"I did not see any military or military equipment in the Epicenter during or after the explosion. And what I saw there is in my photos,” says Krasnoshchek, ”Dead bodies, fire, the work of the State Emergency Service and how civilians helped rescuers.


Photo by Vladyslav Krasnoshchek


Ukrainian photographers Oleksandr Magula and Yevhen Gertner also captured the first hours of another Russian war crime against Kharkiv residents. The documentary photographs show the epicenter of tragedy and pain in Kharkiv after the enemy bombed the hypermarket.


Earlier, we wrote about how Russian propagandists use photos of Vlada and Konstantin Liberov to hide the murders of civilians in Vovchansk. And also about how Kremlin publicists are using Pavlo Pakhomenko's photo to justify the shelling of a utility company in Kharkiv, claiming that the destroyed building was a military facility.

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