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watch out for this image of a young armed woman

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While pro-Russian separatists announced the evacuation of towns on the border between Ukraine and Russia fearing imminent clashes, photos of Ukrainian civilians ready to defend themselves in the event of an invasion are viral on the networks. Among these, a photo of a young woman holding a gun on the bus suggests that many Ukrainians are ready for battle. But the photo is from 2020 and was taken in Russian Siberia.

Verification in a nutshell

  • A photo purports to show a Ukrainian girl with a gun on a bus in February 2022
  • It was actually shared in March 2020 on Instagram by a young woman who was returning from filming with fake weapons.

This photo was notably published on Twitter on February 12 by the account @terror_alarm, showing a young woman sitting in a subway, looking at her mobile phone, and carrying an assault rifle in her hand. The tweet reads in English “Life in Ukraine, now”.

It was also shared on Twitter in Italian February 12.

A photo taken after filming in Russia… with a fake weapon

A reverse image search via InVid Verify (see how to do it here) shows that the image has regularly been used as a meme, humorous photomontage, since 2020 to purport to illustrate how Russian civilians defend themselves on a daily basis, other photomontages putting highlight the impeccable manicure of the young woman. This blog post from April 2020, for example, analyzes how the image became a meme.

Doing a reverse image search through Yandex, the Russian search engine, found photos of a young woman resembling the one in the photo, posted on her Instagram account, Gladkikh2.0

The young woman, originally from Novosibirsk, Siberia, regularly posts photos of herself on her Instagram channel and her VK account, a Russian social network.

By observing her photos, we realize that we can see her wearing the same beige cap as in the viral photo. We find the original photo, which was published on March 27, 2020, and whose caption in Russian reads “I’m going to the shooting range, I have an AK-47, your enemies will regret it”.

Contacted on VK, Ekaterina Gladkikh, indicates that she was returning from a photo session when the photo was taken: “No one asked me questions on the bus and I calmly returned by car. Of course, the weapon was fake. I’m used to the picture being understood in a completely different way. People discuss everything down to the smallest detail, even my fingernails. I don’t mind that.”

This photo, taken in March 2020 in Russia, therefore has nothing to do with the Ukrainian crisis of February 2022.

France 24-Trans

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