Old video falsely shared as anti-Putin protest in Russia in May 2023

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A video has surfaced in social media posts that falsely claim it shows protesters rallying against Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in May 2023. While Russians have genuinely protested against Putin's war in Ukraine, the footage shows an anti-Kremlin protest in May 2013.

The video shows protesters running onto a street and unfurling a banner that reads "'Death to the Kremlin occupiers!" in Russian.

A Twitter account with more than 40,000 followers shared the clip on May 9, claiming the demonstration had taken place in Moscow the previous week.

"On May 2 near Red Square, on the famous Tverskaya Street, citizens suddenly unfurled a huge banner reading 'Death to the Kremlin war criminals!' and chanted 'Putin the war criminal'," the simplified Chinese tweet reads.

Simplified Chinese text superimposed on the clip says "Brave Russians" and repeats the text in the tweet.

Screenshot of a tweet sharing the false claim, taken on May 16, 2023

The video was shared in similar posts here and here as China pushed to act as a mediator in the Ukraine conflict.

Beijing said on May 12 it would send a special envoy to the war-torn country -- the highest-ranking Chinese diplomat to visit since Moscow's full-scale invasion last year -- as well as Russia, France, Germany and Poland to "communicate with all parties on the political settlement of the Ukrainian crisis" (archived link).

While China says it is a neutral party on the Ukraine war, it has been criticised for refusing to condemn Moscow for the invasion.

2013 protest

AFP published a photo of the demonstration, taken on May 9, 2013.

According to the photo caption, it shows anti-Kremlin activists on Moscow's Tverskaya Street that day, which coincided with Victory Day -- an annual holiday to mark the anniversary of Russia's victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.

The slogan on the protesters' banner was a reference to the Soviet World War II-era slogan "Death to the German occupiers!", the photo caption adds.

Police detained 12 people for taking part in the demonstration, Russian media reported (archived link).

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in false posts (left) and AFP's photo taken in 2013 (right):

Screenshot comparison of the video in false post (left) and AFP's photo taken in 2013 (right)

AFP found the location in the video corresponds with 2013 street view imagery on Yandex of Tverskaya Street (archived link).

Since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, public criticism of the conflict has been outlawed including the words "war" and "invasion".

Hundreds of prominent and ordinary Russians have been fined or given prison terms for publicly opposing the Kremlin's offensive in the pro-Western country.

Ukraine-Russia conflict