Is Gazprom threatening to keep Europe cold this winter? Why this video is likely fake
Worldwide media widely shared a video that they attributed to Russian state energy company Gazprom in articles published on September 6, 2022. The video, which was circulated online by pro-Russian users, showed the company halting the flow of natural gas to Europe. However, our journalists investigated the origin of the video and found that it was probably not made by Gazprom.
“Gazprom threatens Europe with freezing winter“, “Russian gas company harass Europe”“Gazprom’s stunning propaganda video“: just some of the headlines of various French media on September 6 and 7, 2022. These articles claimed that Russian energy company Gazprom – which specializes in both the extraction, treatment and sale of natural gas – has released a video showing what it would look like if they stopped all gas flows to Europe.
The story was picked up by multiple media outlets, some in different countries. The video was also broadcast by several television channels and widely shared online, especially by pro-Russian accounts.
The video shows a man alleged to be a Gazprom employee turning off a tap, then several aerial photos of European cities were plunged into an icy winter darkness. The images were set to a number called “Зима”which roughly translates to “This Winter Will Be Great,” a Soviet patriotic anthem composed by Yuri Vizbor.
Video nowhere to be found on Gazprom social media account
But what is the exact origin of this propaganda video? There are a few clues that make it unlikely that the video was made by Gazprom. First, it was not shared on any of the giant’s social media accounts.
None of Gazprom’s official Twitter accounts – in Russian, English and German, just to name a few – shared this video. There is no sign of this video on The official site of Gazpromor even be page on the Russian social media network Vkontakte, where the company is very active. Same deal for Gazprom’s Youtube Channelwhere the company shares all of its ads.
A montage made up of other videos
When we checked out Gazprom’s YouTube channel, we realized that the video in question is actually a montage made from other images already circulating online. For example, the image of the back of a Gazprom worker walking towards a factory was used in a video published on September 9, 2019 on Gazprom’s YouTube channel.
However, the video also contains footage not featured on any of Gazprom’s sites — such as the footage at the end of the video showing a tall glass skyscraper emerging from a sea of clouds. The building is the Lakhta Center, a skyscraper in St. Petersburg built by a team of Russian, British, Turkish and American architects and companies. Gazprom has been headquartered there since 2019.
If you do a YouTube search with the words “Лахта центр облака”, which means “Lakhta Center clouds” in Russian, you will see the original video with these images. It was taken from a video posted online on August 23, 2018 on Лахта Центр, the skyscraper’s official channel.
Turns out these images are from a UK company The B1M, who often creates videos that serve as architectural models. Their Youtube Channel, which has 2.6 million followers, is full of these videos. Some of the images in the propaganda video still feature The B1M’s logo – proof that these images are indeed from the British company.
Is Gazprom actually threatening a Russian city?
The video also shows images of a city plunged into a frigid winter, which should represent European cities suffering from a lack of natural gas. However, these images show a city… in Russia.
Using geolocation techniques (check out our guide), we were able to determine that some of the footage in the video shows the Vinogradovsky Bridge, located in the Russian city of Krasnoyarsk. There are some images of this bridge on it Google Street View.
A Russian journalist actually claims that he 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 that he actually made this video. Artur Khodyrev told Fontanka.ru that he and a colleague made the video together. However, Khodyrev said it was a “personal initiative” and neither was paid.
The video actually appeared on Artur Khodyrev’s Vkontake page on the morning of September 6, 2022. Gazprom, for its part, has not commented. The team of France 24 Observers has tried several times to contact the Russian company, but we have not yet received a response.