There are only four photos and three videos of the alleged separatists’ Russian Buk launcher. Most of them were uploaded to the social media within hours after MH17 was shot down, others were published elsewhere within days. A website called Bellingcat uses them as evidence of Russia’s and separatists’ culpability in the MH17 case. The photos were examined in my previous article. This article is about the videos (Picture 1).
It is possible to not only fake certain photos, but to also fake certain videos with the help of software. Just because the source of the material is a social media site, it does not mean that the material is authentic by default nor that the uploader doesn’t serve someone’s interests. Social media can be used to anonymously spread disinformation, fake photos and videos. It also allows certain entities to upload their own fake material, to show it later at a press conference and claim that its source is social media.
All three videos have problems suggesting that the vehicles, including the Buk launcher, were added into the videos with the help of photo and video manipulation software, such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe After Effects. The vehicles in the videos are most likely just photoshopped images. The videos have common characteristics: the vehicles have low picture quality and are blurry, they are shown at a far distance (excluding the Luhansk video), at a limited angle, you cannot see the wheels spinning of any vehicles, and in two videos, the truck with the Buk are visible only for about four seconds. Two videos were uploaded by anonymous accounts that have no other videos, one of which was created on the day of the incident. The third video was uploaded by Ukrainian officials. Evidence exists of deliberate deception by Ukrainian officials concerning the location of the area shown in the Luhansk video.
Snizhne video. The copy at the highest resolution (1088 x 1920) shows a video artifact when the Buk is moving behind the tree, which looks like something that can appear due to an error in the fake video-making process in After Effects, rather than because of some video compression. The video was uploaded to YouTube by an anonymous account within a few hours after MH17 was shot down. The account was created on the same day and has no other activity. The video’s title said that this is the weapon that shot down MH17, as well as the place (Snizhne), and the date (July 17, 2014). The uploader removed the video within a few hours. The head of the Security Service of Ukraine showed the video the next day at a press conference.
Zuhres video. In the video, the wind is blowing from the south, but in Zuhres, on the day when this video was allegedly recorded at (July 17, 2014), the wind was blowing from the east or northeast. In the stabilized version of the video, the truck and the Buk look like mostly just an image moving from one location to another. The video was uploaded on July 17, 2014 on YouTube, had no description, and had “IMG 0647” as title. The uploader added the description between July 23 and July 27, 2014, which said, “coordinates of this and other videos: [link].” The account is anonymous and has no other videos. Between July 17 and July 22, 2014, a Twitter user named 3Andryu sent a message to a blogger named [email protected] that had the link to the Zuhres video and details, such as the coordinates, the date and time the video was recorded at. The tweet was retweeted by another user to Bellingcat on July 22. There doesn’t seem to be any copies of this video uploaded to YouTube before July 21, 2014, which means that the public was not aware of the video until around July 22, 2014. On July 19, 2014, Ukrainian spokesman showed a cropped screenshot from the Zuhres video at a press conference before the video was publicized, but not the video. He also did not say that it was Zuhres and showed a tank and a truck loaded with people that look like they are a part of the Zuhres video, but the Zuhres video does not show these vehicles. The video uploader removed the video from YouTube in March 2015. Twitter account named 3Andryu or his tweet with the video’s details were deleted by August 28, 2014.
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