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Footage of body bags shows climate change protest, not Ukraine

A clip of a February climate change demonstration in Austria in which protesters pretended to be in body bags has circulated as false evidence for the absurd claim that news media are staging deaths in Ukraine. Let’s take a look at the facts.

A tweet that says “This guy had one job” with a video that shows a television news journalist who appears to be reporting on casualties in Ukraine, with what looks like rows of body bags in the background. The video appears to have a caption that reads “Ukrainian health ministry: 57 dead, 169 hurt across Ukraine as Russia launches attack.” During the clip, one person under a tarp can be seen moving. The News Literacy Project has added a label that says "CLIMATE CHANGE PROTEST IN AUSTRIA."
The footage in this video is not a news report about casualties in Ukraine.
It is footage taken from a Feb. 4 report from Oe24, an Austrian media outlet, about a climate change protest in Vienna.
The audio in this video is not from the original report.
The audio matching the original footage was removed and replaced with audio taken from a Feb. 24 NBC News segment about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

NewsLit takeaway

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted a surge of false conspiracy claims, including that the war is being staged (see here, here and here). While it’s impossible to know if any of these claims originated with Russian disinformation agents, spreading doubt about the reality of the situation in Ukraine is broadly aligned to Russian interests. It’s also worth noting that viral rumors sometimes evolve as they circulate — and that this isn’t the first time this footage has been used to push baseless conspiratorial claims. It circulated in early February to push the absurd idea that COVID-19 deaths were being staged. Since then, different versions of the footage have gone viral alongside claims that it shows staged Ukraine casualties. The addition of the NBC News audio track and caption about Ukraine is simply the latest version of the footage to circulate online.

Related: “Ukraine invasion: False claims the war is a hoax go viral” (Shayan Sardarizadeh and Olga Robinson, BBC News).

Here is a full copy of the video:

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