Does a propaganda video show a Ukrainian model to tout Russian ‘beautiful women’?

War between Ukraine and Russiacase

Relayed by Russian embassies, the clip, particularly caricatural, uses the image of a young Ukrainian woman opposed to the war to praise the “beautiful women” Russian.

“Hurry up, winter is coming.” In just under a minute, a video in English with a pronounced Russian accent invites foreigners to “come to Russia” as soon as possible, praising its cuisine, its history and its hospitality. More surprisingly, the clip also insists on the country’s economy, “capable of withstanding thousands of penalties”the cost of electricity… as well as the “beautiful women” Russians.

Originally posted on YouTube by a pro-Russian group called Signal (which has a Telegram channel with nearly 700,000 subscribers), the cartoonish and outrageous video sounds almost like a parody of the Kremlin’s propaganda rhetoric, or a video made by unsubtle Russian trolls. It was without counting on the very official accounts of the Russian embassies on social networks, which took it up and distributed it. This is particularly the case of the Russian Embassy in Franceor that in Spain.

A detail caught the attention of some Internet users: a woman with odd eyes is supposed to symbolize the beauty of Russian women. However, this same woman also appears in the clip published in May 2022 by the Ukrainian singer Angy Kreyda for her song Vrazhe (which means “Enemy”), where she casts a spell on the “Russian enemies” from Ukraine.

How could the images from the clip of this anti-Russian anthem end up in a pro-Russian propaganda video? In reality, the images of the woman with odd eyes were originally published on November 28, 2020 by Russian photographer Anastasia Shuraeva on the royalty-free image platform. The photographs and videos posted online can be used for free by anyone, Ukrainian artist or Russian troll.

But what about the “beautiful woman” Russian propaganda clip? CheckNews was able to find the identity of the model. This is Sonya Kapitonova, a 27-year-old woman telling us that she is “Ukrainian but having lived in Russia for a while”. She seems more in tune with the denunciation of the Russian invasion than with the propaganda clip: Sonya Kapitonova reacted by sharing a parody of the Russian clip, in which all the supposed qualities of the country are illustrated by images showing the opposite. Since the beginning of the conflict, it has also published several contents indicating its opposition to the Russian invasion, judging for example that “Russia is screwed”.

“My father is fighting” Russia

HAS CheckNewsshe confesses her anger when she bares her face in the Russian propaganda clip “because I never supported the policy of Russia and I had already left there”. The images used in the two clips “were taken in 2020 in Moscow. We were shooting for a yoga studio and I signed a paper allowing the photographer to use them. But the photographer sold the material to an image bank and it ended up on completely different sites.

Still in Russia when the conflict began, Sonya Kapitonova managed to leave the invading country to reach Germany: “I’m starting my life over from scratch. My whole family is [restée] in Ukraine: my little brother cannot leave the country, my mother works at home and my father is fighting.”

Does a propaganda video show a Ukrainian model to tout Russian ‘beautiful women’?