Global media widely shared a video they attributed to Russian state energy company Gazprom in articles published on September 6, 2022. The video, which was posted online by pro-Russian users, showed the company shutting down its flow of natural gas to Europe. However, our reporters investigated the origins of the video and found that it was probably not made by Gazprom.
“Gazprom threatens Europe with a freezing winter“, “The Russian gas company taunts Europe »“Gazprom’s stunning propaganda video“: some of the headlines of several French media on September 6 and 7, 2022. These articles claimed that The Russian energy company Gazprom – which specializes in the extraction as well as the processing and sale of natural gas – released a video showing what it would look like if they stopped all gas flow to Europe.
The story was picked up by several media outlets, some in different countries. The video was also broadcast by several TV channels and widely shared online, including by pro-Russian accounts.
The video shows a man believed to be a Gazprom employee turning off a tap, then several aerial images of European cities plunged into freezing winter darkness. The images were set to a song titled “Зима”which roughly translates to “This Winter Will Be Great”, a Soviet patriotic anthem composed by Yuri Vizbor.
Video not found on Gazprom’s social media account
But what is the exact origin of this propaganda video? There are a few clues that make it seem unlikely that the video was created by Gazprom. Firstly, it has not been shared on any of the social media accounts the giant runs.
None of Gazprom’s official Twitter accounts – in Russian, English and German, to name a few – shared this video. There is no sign of this video on Gazprom official websiteor even his page on Russian social network Vkontakte, where the company is extremely active. Same deal for Gazprom Youtube channelwhere the company shares all its announcements.
A montage made up of other videos
By taking a look at Gazprom’s YouTube channel, we realized that the video in question is in fact a montage made from other images already circulating online. For example, the image showing the back of a Gazprom employee walking towards a factory was used in a video published on September 9, 2019 on Gazprom’s YouTube channel.
The video, however, also contains footage not featured on any of Gazprom’s sites – such as the footage at the end of the video which shows a large glass skyscraper emerging from a sea of clouds. The building is the Lakhta Center, a skyscraper in Saint Petersburg built by a team of Russian, British, Turkish and American architects and companies. Gazprom headquarters have been located there since 2019.
If you search YouTube using the words “Лахта центр облака”, which means “clouds from the center of Lakhta” in Russian, you will get the original video containing this footage. This is taken from a video posted on August 23, 2018 on Лахта Центр, the official channel of the skyscraper.
It turns out these images are from a UK company The B1M, who often makes videos that serve as architectural models. Their Youtube channel, which has 2.6 million followers, is full of these videos. Some of the images from the propaganda video still bear The B1M logo, proof that these images are indeed from the British company.
Is Gazprom really threatening a Russian city?
The video also shows footage of a city in a freezing winter that is meant to represent European cities suffering from a lack of natural gas. However, these images actually show a city… in Russia.
Using geotagging techniques (see our guide), we were able to identify that some of the images in the video show the Vinogradovsky Bridge, located in the Russian city of Krasnoyarsk. There are a number of images of this bridge on Google Street View.
A Russian journalist actually claims to have made the video
And then the last clue – on September 6, 2022, Fontanka.ru, a Russian investigative media outlet based in St. Petersburg, published an article about a Russian journalist who claims to have made this video. Artur Khodyrev told Fontanka.ru that he and a colleague made the video together. Khodyrev, however, said it was a “personal initiative” and neither were paid.
The video actually appeared on Artur Khodyrev’s Vkontake page the morning of September 6, 2022. Gazprom, for its part, did not comment. The France 24 Observers team has tried several times to contact the Russian company, but we have not yet received a response.
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