4 December 2023
Fact checkMisleading

Misleading: This video shows a climate protest, not corpses in Ukraine

The video shows a demonstration held by climate activists against Vienna’s climate policy on Feb. 4, not casualties in the recent conflict between Ukraine and Russia.

A Weibo post on Feb. 27 claimed with a recording of a TV screen that when a TV journalist was reporting about casualties killed in action on live broadcast, one of the “corpses” suddenly woke up.

The video indeed shows one of the “bodies” on the ground moving and adjusting the body bag while a reporter with a black face mask talking. Subsequently, a person with a backpack is seen rushing to help the person in the body bag.

The TV screen included in the post is unmistakably flipped digitally. It displays a mirrored image of letters that appears to read “…IEN: DEMO GEGEN KLIMAP…” in reverse.

However, the Chinese text overlaying the screen in the first six seconds can be read normally and it says, when translated to English, “The television station was reporting on those who were killed in action. (Here is) a dramatic scene.”

When the “corpse” moves at 0:07, another text appears that says, “(They) should be more serious for the show.”

The Weibo video was viewed by 1.79 million users, with 4,291 shares, 1,063 comments and 12,000 likes as of this writing.

Some online users indicated that the video is related to the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia.

One of the comments reads, “These Ukrainians are making things up on a really low level,” while another says, “Wanna blame Russia for being unrighteous?”

“This is the type of news reported by the Western media. Can’t you be more professional in faking?” one user wrote while others teased about the poor acting by the “corpse.”

However, this TV news report has nothing to do with Ukraine or Russia.

Annie Lab was able to find the original video produced by Austrian channel Oe24 in Vienna by doing a keyword search with the mirrored German text at the bottom – “Demo gegen klimap…”

According to the TV report, this news is about a demonstration against Vienna’s climate policy on Feb. 4.

<p> <img src="corpse-alive_20220307_2.png" alt="Austria news climate demonstration versus Weibo Ukraine claim"> </p>
The Weibo video showed a flipped version of the original video. Both videos show a person carrying a backpack rushing to help the “corpse” to adjust the body bag.

The action was staged by the climate activist group Fridays for Future. The protestors in the body bags were meant to display the number of people the group predicts would die daily because of climate change, according to the Associated Press, which quoted Oe24’s news report.

The Weibo video was posted by Lau Chak Kei, a station sergeant from the Hong Kong Police Tactical Unit. He is popularly known as “Hong Kong Bald Sergeant” and has 1.7 million followers on Weibo.

Lau was lauded in mainland China after he pointed a gun at anti-government protests during the anti-extradition law movement in 2019, according to the South China Morning Post.

Fact-checking organizations Kauyim from Hong Kong, Iran-focused Factnameh from Canada and Taiwan FactCheck Centre also debunked similar claims of Ukrainians faking deaths using the same video on Facebook and Telegram.

This isn’t the first time the video has been posted out of context.

The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, PolitiFact, USA Today and Reuters debunked claims associated with the same news segment misleadingly indicating that the “bodies” were crisis actors in Germany pretending to be victims of COVID-19.