The announcement of the partial mobilization of Russian men has drawn international attention to what could be a turning point in the war in Ukraine. But on social networks, and especially in the pro-Ukraine Twittersphere, Moscow’s recruitment campaign has also sparked ridicule about the new conscripts’ lack of equipment, their advanced age or their apparent state of health. Some go so far as to speak of “alcohol battalions” or even of “vodka battalions”, especially based on several videos shared in recent days of newly mobilized soldiers drinking, fighting or toasting their misfortune.
If some of these sequences seem authentic (absence of online footprints prior to the announcement of the mobilization, localizations and spoken language in accordance with the facts), many of them have nothing to do with the decreed mobilization in Russia. This is, for example, the case of this video mocks a soldier who is unable to march in a gait that does not show military discipline. However, it has nothing to do with the Russian mobilization: a simple reverse search shows that it has been circulating online for several years, as shown this post from 2019.
It’s the same for this video where we see a man armed with an assault rifle in one hand, holding a Russian flag in the other, open fire as he advances in a wobbly manner before receiving shots in his direction. The authenticity of the video and its origin have not been established. What is certain is that the sequence has been regularly shared since the start of the conflict. Many publications of the sequence date back well before the mobilization was decreed in Russia, like this one published on Instagram on February 26.
Another video shared for humor by some, but which netizens seem to take seriously, is a stunning sequence in which Russian police officers search an apartment, eventually finding a man hiding in a refrigerator. Not surprisingly, the scene has nothing to do with the war in Ukraine, nor with a mobilized citizen who would have fled the call. More than seven years old, the video is nonetheless a hidden camera, but according to Russian TV and local press headlines, it would show a search that took place in Yekaterinburg, Russia. According to the press headlines, the man was still wanted for theft when the police found him in his mother’s fridge.
As demonstrated by the user behind the account @CharlieBismuth, member of Katiba of the Narvalos, a group of citizens who investigate terrorists online, this video, in which a man mechanically bangs his head against a car helmet for almost one minute and thirty seconds, is also misrepresented (or satirically) as depicting a mobilized soldier. Several incidents, such as this one published in 2021, largely predate the mobilization in Russia.
Videos, sometimes shared thousands of times, which in their own way contribute to propaganda and information warfare, by ridiculing the enemy.
More than any other period, the war period is prone to misinformation, whether from unknown sources or from official authorities. In connection with the crisis in Ukraine, the service CheckNews of Release remains fully mobilized to answer your questions and try to separate the true from the false, be it statements, pictures or videos. A piece of information makes you doubt? Do not hesitate to contact us via our form, by clicking on the banner at the top of each article.