30 September 2023

False: This marching soldier has nothing to do with Putin’s call-up of reservists

The earliest version of the same video we found was posted in 2019, three years before Russia announced drafting 300,000 more reservists in the ongoing war with Ukraine in late September.

A video shared on Twitter on Sept. 22 shows a man in military uniform walking in a comically awkward fashion, not following the others in what appears to be a military march training.

We can hear someone laughing in the background in the clip. The tweet in Russian sarcastically says, when translated to English, “first mobilization succeeded,” implying that the person was drafted right after President Vladimir Putin announced a call-up of up to 300,000 reservists in the ongoing war with Ukraine.

The tweet has over 800 likes and 244 retweets at the time of writing, while the video has been viewed over 278,300 times.

The same video was also shared on other platforms (for example, on 9GAG and Telegram) in different languages with the same claim.

On China’s NetEase News, the same video and the claim gained 13,000 likes and 2,728 comments.

However, this claim is false. The video was taken at least a few years ago.

The earliest version of this clip Annie Lab found through reverse image search was posted on Nov. 13, 2019.

The same video, which supposedly shows Russia’s newly-drafted soldiers, has already been around since November 2019

Since some early uploads were found on Turkish YouTube and izlesene, a Turkish video website, we asked a Turkish speaker about the words spoken in the video.

Yao Lingwei, who teaches the language at Zhejian International Studies University, said they were very likely to be Turkish, meaning “left, right, left, right.”

Annie Lab also reached out to Doğruluk Payı, a Turkish fact-checking organization and a signatory of the International Fact-Checking Network.

Its editor Simge Akkaş said although the marching command in the video could be “right-left” in Turkish, the audio quality was not clear to make any conclusions.

However, according to Akkaş, the video was widely shared on Turkish social media in 2019 when the new military service law, which requires Turkish men reaching 20 to complete a one-month military training, was signed in the country.

Other similar videos mocking the new recruits were spreading in Turkey at the time.

We also found that this is not the first time this video was used in misleading claims. Some said people in the video are Russian military trainers in Africa; others said they are Iraqi soldiers or Iranian soldiers.

Annie Lab could not geolocate the exact place where this video was shot.