A video attributed to Gazprom is widely shared on social networks, in the midst of a crisis around Russian gas deliveries to the West. The threatening message of this sequence seems to promise a freezing winter in Europe if the West persists in opposing Russia. However, the origin and purpose of this assembly would in reality be quite different.
This Monday, September 5, social networks were invaded by a video showing a Gazprom employee closing a gas valve, preventing the West from heating up and causing a terrible cold snap. Behind this montage, a song whose lyrics evoke “a long harsh winter” to come for Europe. Many media, in France, but also in Ukraine or England, saw it as a direct threat from the gas company to Western countries, a few days after the suspension of Russian gas deliveries.
ud83cuddf7ud83cuddfa GAZPROM the TROLL ud83dude0e
u27a1ufe0f “And the winter will be big …”
Gazprom is giving us an epic troll of EU countries. ??? pic.twitter.com/1G2YlLBGrR
— Jaime Horta ud83dude0eud83cuddf5ud83cuddf9u269bud83cudde8ud83cuddf5u262fufe0fud83cudde7ud83cuddf7 (@JaimeHorta17) September 6, 2022
But was this video really posted on social networks by the Russian company? Several elements seem to call into question the authenticity of this very polished staging, at least in appearance. Indeed, on closer inspection, we first notice that the “TheB1m” logo sometimes appears on certain images. This is the name of a british company specializing in shooting buildings and infrastructure around the world. Many videos featuring this logo are readily available online. Some sequences on the video that Gazprom would have posted would therefore display this logo intermittently, a very unprofessional practice which caused some Internet users to quickly question the origin of the video.
— junia⬜️?⬜️?? (@serenahrm) September 7, 2022
Another more than surprising detail, among the images supposed to show Europe under freezing cold, we recognize images of Krasnoyarsk, a city in Siberia, in particular thanks to a bridge well known to the Russians. However, ironically, this city in the far east of Russia would not itself be supplied by the gas network. A mistake that a company like Gazprom could hardly have made.
Moreover, neither the name of the company nor its logo appear as an overlay on these images. Finally, the Russian company has not, at this time, made any official comment about such a communication, or at least not with a means that is accessible to us, the Gazprom website still being blocked from France.
For precision – the clip is not really “released by Gazprom”, it was made by a journalist from a RU government TV channel and promoted by the vice governor of Krasnoyarsk – an actually gas-less city absurdly pictured in the video. https://t.co/xW5QJ5o5bY
—Christo Grozev (@christogrozev) September 7, 2022
Quickly, several observers, including the Bulgarian journalist Christo Grozev, famous for his thorough investigations on Russia, supported these doubts by going back to the way this video had been relayed on social networks. One of its first broadcasters on the Telegram network would thus be Sergey Ponomarenko, the deputy governor of … Krasnoyarsk.
The Russian newspaper Fontanka finally claims to have discovered the pot of roses. This media based in Saint-Petersburg, recognized for its independence by several foreign prizes and supported by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NGO for the defense of human rights), explains that, behind the video falsely attributed to Gazprom, there is actually a certain Artur Khodyrev, a journalist also based in Saint-Petersburg. He posted it on the Russian social network VK. This clip also strongly resembles another video that it posted on the same social network last April.
According to Khodyrev, who claims to have edited the famous sequence with a colleague, it is “a personal initiative” with an “absurd” goal for which “he did not receive any money”: “It’s just that the situation around Gazprom, Nord Stream and Europe seems so absurd and contrary to common sense that it is impossible not to laugh about it” he declares to Fontanka“happy” that the clip had such popularity on the internet.
His aim was to “lift the spirits of many people by working in an unusual kind of irony”. As for the Krasnoyarsk bridge, he claims “not to have recognized it” but is pleased that this video highlights “the subject of the gasification of [cette] region [de Sibérie]”.