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01 Jul. 2023

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The deaths of Zaluzhnyi and Budanov: why russia is spreading fake news

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The deaths of Zaluzhnyi and Budanov: why russia is spreading fake news

Back in early May, russia launched an PSYOP claiming that Zaluzhnyi and Budanov had died, and now the information campaign has only gained new momentum. Find out why russia is spreading fake news and what the benefits are

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In the first days of May, russian telegram channels and media outlets began to spread information that the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, and the Chief of Military Intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, had allegedly come under rocket fire. The versions spread by the russian media ranged from serious injury to death. However, a little later, they all agreed that both military leaders were killed. 

Today, despite numerous videos and photographic evidences to the contrary, russia continues to convince everyone that the Ukrainian commanders-in-chief are dead. Moreover, they call the published videos "using corpses" and "video editing".

Let's figure out together how and why russian propaganda "buried" Zaluzhnyi and Budanov.


How did russia kill Zaluzhnyi?


The fake news about Zaluzhnyi's death was spread because of the commander-in-chief's long absence from public events and refusal to participate in a meeting of the NATO military committee, even via video, which Zaluzhnyi himself almost immediately explained as a result of the difficult situation at the front.


However, the appearance of photos and videos in which Mr. Zaluzhnyi looked quite alive and well did not stop the russian propaganda machine. It reached its peak on May 24, when one of the russian state media outlets decided to "reveal the details of Zaluzhny's injury" and reported on "the trepanation of his skull due to a fragmentary head injury" and the fact that the general would allegedly no longer be able to do his job.


It was at this point that Ukrainian authorities intervened and called for the situation to be ignored. Moreover, on May 26, Zaluzhnyi himself attended a ceremony dedicated to the transfer of a new armored boat to the Ukrainian Navy's river flotilla. 


And although russia's fakes no longer made any sense at the end of May, on June 13, during a conference of the kremlin administration with russian correspondents and bloggers, putin made new assumptions about Zaluzhny's whereabouts and condition. According to him, the military leader was in very poor condition somewhere abroad. However, during the full-scale invasion, the commander-in-chief left Ukraine only once, to meet with the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, in Poland, which was at the request of the American side.


The main reason for the spread of these myths is the high level of support in Ukrainian society for the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. That is why russia chose Zaluzhnyi as the main target for its propaganda. However, the information campaign failed miserably, and russia soon launched a new wave of fakes, burying Budanov.




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How did russia destroy Budanov?


The new information campaign about Budanov was almost identical to the previous one. The difference was that the missile attack that allegedly hit Budanov was on the Ukrainian intelligence headquarters in Kyiv, and the missile hit the office next door.


However, just like the first time, russia could not immediately decide whether Budanov had died in the wreckage or was still seriously injured, but two weeks later, russian media began to spread information that the head of Ukrainian intelligence was being treated in Germany.


Despite the fact that Budanov did not disappear from the public eye and that the "treatment of the head of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine" was denied by the German media, russia did not stop promoting these fakes. Moreover, putin himself reported the "actual destruction" of the Ukrainian intelligence headquarters.


And recently, russian propagandists have reached a new level of schizoid phase, claiming that Ukraine is using Budanov's corpse to shoot staged videos with Deepfake technology. The absurdity of these statements is even harder to comment on.


Why is russia spreading fake news about the assassination of its commander-in-chief?


russia's disinformation campaign has surprised the vast majority of communications experts, as all their statements are refuted by many photos and video evidence, as well as live broadcasts. However, instead of stopping the failed PSYOP, russia is still looking for "confirmation" of either the injury or death of Zaluzhnyi and Budanov, pointing to unnatural movements and positions of their limbs and "speech patterns."


According to experts, the russian campaign is linked to Ukraine's counteroffensive and is designed to undermine the morale of the Ukrainian army. After all, Budanov and Zaluzhnyi are not only the main military commanders, but also media personalities who have become integral symbols of the Ukrainian resistance. Therefore, the "destruction of these symbols" is one of the main tasks of the russian federation.


In addition, experts emphasize that the russian PSYOP works not only beyond the borders of russia, but also for russian citizens. For example, the "successful destruction of the Commanders-in-Chief" was supposed to dampen the russians' discontent with the failures at the front. Therefore, the world will observe such fakes on a regular basis, because we have all already seen that russia is a fictional fake country.


We remind you! The limited media literacy and distrust of traditional sources of information among Ukrainians increase the risk of falling into the trap of fake news. Read about the percentage of Ukrainians who can recognize false information and how to fight fake news on the Internet in our previous article.


Photo: EPA




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