Anti-government protesters throw cobblestones as they clash with the police on Independence Square in Kyiv on February 19, 2014 ( AFP / Sergei Supinsky)

Video footage from 2014 misleadingly cast as Russian invasion

Copyright AFP 2017-2022. All rights reserved.

Footage of armored vehicles set alight by Molotov cocktails on a Ukrainian street is being presented on social media as local resistance against Russia's ongoing invasion. This is false; the recording is from Ukraine, but it was shot in 2014 in Kyiv during the country's popular protest movement, when demonstrators torched the army's vehicles.

"Ukrainian citizens destroy 2 Russian tanks with molotov cocktails(Petrol, Gasoline) in Kiev," says the caption of a video shared on Facebook on February 26, 2022, incorrectly describing the vehicles as tanks.

In the video, shared on other social media platforms in 2022 in Spanish, Ukrainian and Romanian, two armored personnel carriers are seen driving towards a barricade adorned with a Ukrainian flag blocking a city street, before the throwing of several projectiles sets them ablaze.

Screenshot of a Facebook post taken on March 2, 2022

Social media users shared the footage as reports emerged of fighting in Ukrainian cities following the February 24 invasion.

A Google reverse image search leads to footage of the same Ukrainian flag and storefront in the background, but uploaded to YouTube on February 24, 2014. The original Ukrainian title of the video translates as "Maidan residents throw Molotov cocktails at armored personnel carriers."

This relates to Ukraine's 2014 anti-government protests, also known as the Maidan movement, named after the Kyiv square on which many demonstrations took place. A search in Ukrainian for "Maidan protesters torch tank" on YouTube leads to a February 19, 2014 news report on Ukrainian broadcaster TSN, featuring footage of the same event from a different angle.

The New York Times and Sky News uploaded other videos of the armored vehicles being engulfed in flames and ramming into the barricade on February 19, 2014. "Deadly anti-government protests overnight and into early hours of Wednesday morning in Ukraine," reads the New York Times's video description.

A search for media reports from February 18, 2014 from Kyiv found several media covering the event, such as the Guardian here, Al Jazeera here, as well as the Ukrainian English-language newspaper Kyiv Post here.

Kyiv Post reported in an 8:00pm update: "As police continued to amass in the evening, the only way out of Independence Square after sunset was up the hill towards St. Michael’s Cathedral as well as on Khreshchatyk and Prorizna streets. Protesters tore up paving stones on Khreshchatyk Street, stood guard at barricades and stockpiled Molotov cocktails as if bracing for an attack by police overnight."

Visual clues in the video confirm that the footage was filmed on Khreshchatyk, the main street of Kyiv, Ukraine. The video shows the ground floor of the Hotel Khreschatyk Kyiv. AFP identified several spaces at the entrance of the hotel - which is located between Independence Square (also known as Maidan) and European Square - the most prominent being Alʹfa-Bank (Альфа-Банк) by its bright red logo.

The 2022 war between Russia and Ukraine has been accompanied by a wave of online disinformation, often involving images presented in a false context.

March 2, 2022 This article was updated to fix a typo in the first paragraph.
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