The ‘Confession’ Video of the Ukrainian Official Is Fabricated, Wikimedia Commons

Original article (in Bosnian) was published on 2/4/2024; Author: Maida Salkanović

An edited video circulating on social media, which portrays a Ukrainian security official ‘admitting’ Ukraine’s involvement in a terrorist attack in Moscow, originated from Russian media sources.

Four armed assailants attacked concertgoers at the “Picnic” concert on March 22, 2024, at Crocus City Hall near Moscow. Over 6,000 people were present; the assault left at least 143 dead and many others injured. The attackers also detonated explosive devices, sparking a fire that engulfed nearly 13,000 square meters. Although the perpetrators initially escaped, Russian security forces quickly located and detained them.

The extremist group, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and its regional affiliate, the Islamic State of Khorasan (IS-K), which aims to establish a Muslim caliphate across Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Iran, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Despite ISIL’s claim, Russian officials have attributed the attack to Ukraine. Kyiv has denied these allegations. Nevertheless, Russian officials continue to assert that Ukraine orchestrated the attack with the backing of ‘Western intelligence services’ and IS-K as the executioner of the plan.

This narrative has been echoed by numerous ‘experts’ in the media and further distorted in social media posts in the region, leading to erroneous claims that Ukraine admitted responsibility for the attack.

On March 22, 2024, a video surfaced on the Telegram platform allegedly showing Oleksiy Danilov, a senior Ukrainian security official, claiming responsibility for the attack. The video captures a single frame of Danilov with two television presenters nodding in response. It was shared with the description:

Nazi Danilov, Secretary of the Council for National Security and Defense of Ukraine, on the terrorist attack in Crocus: “Is it fun in Moscow today? I think it’s fun. I hope we give them this kind of fun MORE OFTEN.”

Screenshot, Telegram

The video quickly garnered almost 50,000 views and was also published on the X platform (1, 2). On a private Facebook profile, it was shared again with a longer description that made additional claims.

Meanwhile, the Western media is actively spreading a false statement by the outlawed IS, according to which the movement takes full responsibility for the terrorist attack in Crocus. There are no such messages on the official IG tg channel. In addition, the organization has not used such a style of declaration for several years.

Their intention is clear: they want to divert all suspicion from their own countries and perpetrators. But why would they do that when the perpetrators themselves have already said everything? The Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, Oleksiy Danilov, confirmed Ukraine’s involvement in the terrorist attack in Moscow:

“Is it fun in Moscow today? I think it’s a lot of fun. I would like to think that we will organize such a party for them more often. After all, they are “brotherly” people, and relatives should visit them more often. So we will go there (…)”

And now the Western media is trying to cover it up. But it is in vain because Ukrainians themselves admit the killings of civilians – to them, it is a reason for pride.

Screenshot, Facebook

The video allegedly showing Oleksiy Danilov discussing the attack in Moscow was also circulated in English-speaking countries. BBC Verify, an initiative by the British public broadcaster aimed at identifying disinformation, analyzed the video on March 25, 2024. They determined that it was a montage composed of two separate interviews broadcast a week earlier. The footage of Danilov was taken from one interview, while the footage of the presenter was from another. The montage was produced by NTV, a prominent Russian media channel. According to their report:

Both (interviews) can be found on YouTube. The first is an interview with Danilov from 19 March. The other one was published three days earlier and features Ukraine’s military intelligence chief, Kyrylo Budanov.

The quote by Danilov which appears in the NTV video cannot be heard in the original interview.

Audio analysis, carried out for BBC Verify by the Advanced Forensic Technology Research Group at Liverpool John Moores University, suggests the audio was manipulated in the NTV video.

A gap in the audio frequency data indicates that the sound has been edited. However, the researchers cannot be certain the voice was AI generated.

BBC Verify has also found information embedded in the audio file suggesting it has been put through editing software.

AFP also investigated the recording, comparing the original interview with Danilov from March 19 to the viral video.

A comparison of the real interview with the fake footage shows that Danilov is wearing the same clothes in both and is in the same position in front of the same background. His head moves in the same way. However, his words are different and the fake recording shows that the voice does not follow the movement of his lips.

In the original interview, Danilov comments on French President Emmanuel Macron’s statement from late February 2024 about the possibility of deploying Western troops to Ukraine (archived here).

AFP further employed the Eleven Labs tool to analyze the audio, determining a 98% probability that it was artificially generated.

This finding supports the conclusion that the footage purported to show Danilov claiming responsibility for the attack in Moscow was fabricated using two different videos. The presenter’s footage was taken from an interview with Kyrylo Budanov, while the footage of Danilov, where he discusses French President Emmanuel Macron’s statement about deploying Western troops to Ukraine, was misused. It is highly likely that artificial intelligence was used to generate the misleading audio.

ISIL’s Claim of Responsibility

The authenticity of ISIL’s claim of responsibility for the attack, which was broadcasted on the Telegram channel of the Amaq media agency, has been called into question in the analyzed Facebook post. Subsequently, ISIL also released photos of the attackers and a video recorded by one of them during the attack. CNN highlights the importance of this video, noting that it demonstrates the attackers’ direct contact with ISIL.

The Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, has claimed the attack and released graphic footage purporting to show the incident. The footage is significant as it suggests the perpetrators had a direct link to ISIS to be able to send the video.

The BBC also addressed the question of the message’s authenticity:

The existence of a highly graphic video filmed by the attackers while carrying out the killings, their use of slogans common among IS attackers in the video, and its distribution via official IS media channels are consistent with the group’s modus operandi.

An image of one of the attackers inside the Crocus City Hall more than two weeks before the attack has been published by Russian media – suggesting it had been pre-planned.

Consequently, the claim that Ukrainian official Oleksiy Danilov ‘admitted’ Ukraine’s responsibility for the attack in Moscow is based on a statement from an edited video. We therefore rate this claim, as found on the Telegram platform, as fake news. Further dissemination of this claim by other publications is also classified as the spread of fake news.

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