Original article (in Serbian) was published on 04/08/2022
“The French humanitarian exposes the lies of Kyiv”, writes Informer in its Wednesday edition and states that the massacre in the Ukrainian town of Bucha was “set up”. They convey the claims of former French soldier Adrian Boke, who previously told European media that he was in Bucha at the time and witnessed the “staging” of this massacre at the end of March. In addition to not offering any evidence for his stories, he was caught in a lie – fact-checkers of the French Liberation obtained information about his entry into Ukraine during that period and established that at that time (at the end of March), Boke was not in this country at all.
Bucha is a place in Ukraine near Kyiv that the world public first heard about on the first day of April when photos and videos of dead people whose bodies were lying on the streets appeared. In the period before that, Bucha was under siege by the Russians, who retreated at the end of March, and Ukrainian forces entered the city. The Ukrainian army made the aforementioned recordings, and the propaganda war immediately began – the Russian side denied having anything to do with the massacre, claiming that the Ukrainians directed it.
Some people believed in such an explanation from the start, relying in their search for evidence on many false recordings and unfounded claims – Raskrikavanje wrote about disinformation on the Serbia Danas website about how the recordings show that “dead bodies are moving”, as well as about similar claims shared on social networks.
According to some announcements from the EU, what exactly happened in Bucha is a question that will be dealt with by the international court in The Hague after all the evidence has been collected. In the meantime, the question arises as to what exactly are the arguments and evidence of those publicly denying that the Russians committed the massacre in Bucha.
The man referred to by Informer is Adrian Boke, a former member of the French army whom the Russian media presents as a volunteer and humanitarian. He has been in Ukraine on several occasions and, according to his own claims, he witnessed the “arrangement” of bodies on the streets of Bucha by Ukrainians at the end of March so that the media could photograph them.
Informer reports his words:
“We entered Bucha by car. I was sitting in the passenger seat. Driving through the city I saw dead civilians on the streets. Then we came across people taking bodies out of trucks and stacking them next to the corpses that were already on the street. Later, when it was announced that the Russian army had massacred civilians, I realized that I had attended the staging of the massacre”, says Boke, quoted by Informer. According to his claims, there were journalists near the refrigerator trucks who immediately after placing the corpses, turned on the cameras and filmed. The testimonies of this man appeared in numerous media, from French to Russian. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs broadcast his testimony on its social networks.
Since photos from Bucha began to circulate on April 1, after the withdrawal of the Russian army from this place and the entry of the Ukrainian army, the alleged set-up of the “scenography” could only have taken place before that date – and Boke himself claims to have witnessed the events on March 24.
However, as it turns out, Boke was not in Ukraine at all at that time, that is, he entered this country for the first time only after April 1.
The fact-checkers of the French newspaper Liberation received information about Boke’s entry and exit from the country from the Ukrainian border guards through the Ukrainian embassy in France.
“Boke first entered the city of Shehyni (the border crossing between Poland and Ukraine) on April 4, before leaving the same day at the same place (…)”, writes the French Liberation, and states that until April 20, Boke entered and left the country on four more occasions, never staying on Ukrainian territory for more than 72 hours.
Even if he really went to Bucha in those 72 hours, this web portal states, that would not prove anything because, during that period, the world public had already seen the scenes from the streets of this city.
“Even as he tries to prove that he is right and talks about a quick return trip (…) between the Polish border and Bucha – two places separated by 600 kilometers and many military checkpoints – his testimony does not take into account that the fighting in these areas was stopped on April 1, three days before his first entry into Ukrainian territory”, writes Liberation.
However, Boke continued to appear in the media, especially in Russian, where he made similar claims. In addition to Bucha, he also claimed that he personally witnessed war crimes committed by members of the Azov regiment against the Russian army and Russian prisoners.
In his guest appearances, he presented those scenes in great detail and with anecdotes, claiming that he has 150 video recordings and photos that prove that he was present at the crimes. However, according to Liberation, some journalists who interviewed him in France doubted the truth of his stories and asked him to prove it.
However, it turned out that the photos and videos he decided to submit about his visit to Ukraine do not prove anything, nor do we see concrete scenes of arranging dead bodies for photographing.
“Many times, he poses and takes a selfie, in his car, passing by checkpoints, or while in front of the ambulance, in the hospital. We managed to geolocate several of them near the Ukrainian city of Lviv near the border with Poland. Five photos (…) show him in a hospital in the west of the city”, writes Liberation.
Boke refused this newspaper’s requests to answer questions and provide evidence, saying:
“As I have already stated, I have in my possession 150 video recordings and photos that prove my claims and the places where I traveled in Ukraine. (…) I didn’t post them on my social networks because I didn’t go there (to Ukraine) to talk about it, but to help Ukrainians. After that, I received several death threats”, said Boke and threatened Liberation with a lawsuit. The only video he sent them, as they explain, also proves nothing.
“The video shows him wandering alone in a trench, protected by sandbags and tarps. (…) No one else is visible during the 45 seconds of the video. There are no weapons, soldiers, shell craters, gunfire or even Ukrainian flags. A vehicle is heard passing on the neighboring road. In short, no sign of a fight or anything other than a small fortification. The landscape and the forest do not make it possible to check where the video was taken”, this web portal states.
Military career in anecdotes
The story about Bucha is not the only lie in which Boke was caught. Fact-checkers in France have received evidence that his military past is not what he makes it out to be.
Boke claims in his book “Stand up and walk”, which he promoted in recent months, as well as in his media appearances, that he was a member of the military aviation units for special operations. However, the French Air Force denied and stated that Boke was in training but was injured during it.
“That’s why he couldn’t finish it and he was never a commando in the air force”, the air force says. According to data from French military records cited by Liberation, Boke was in the army for a very short time – the first time as a young soldier from 2009 to 2010, after which he terminated his contract on his initiative. The second time was from 2012 to 2013, when he went on a long sick leave, after which he was permanently released from duty due to his inability to serve.
Nevertheless, in his book and guest appearances, he “fills” his alleged military experiences with anecdotes and stories about actions abroad in which he allegedly participated as a member of the French army. However, based on the French Air Force’s data, it is known that Boke never participated in an external military operation.