How does the Kremlin Media Manipulate with the SkyNews Article About the Living Conditions in Kherson?

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On 13 December, Russian media outlet Ria Novosti published an article claiming that residents of Kherson had complained to British media, specifically Sky News, that life had become worse after the city came under control of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. They cite an interview with local residents who note that the city is experiencing power outages, no water supply, and that many residents are forced to rely on food aid distributions, focusing on a specific quote by a resident who said “worse, worse: they give help, but not to everyone,” when asked if conditions for citizens have improved. Similar claims have been shared in Russian sources including Baltnews, Lenta.ru, Duma TVSputnik, and REN TV. This claim has also been shared by Russian Facebook users (1, 2, 3, 4).

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The Russian media uses the article by Sky news manipulatively and disseminates a quote by a single resident without context to create a misleading perception as if the population of Kherson was better off under the Russian occupation. The article by Sky News was focused on the shelling of Kherson by the Russian army, leading to the city’s infrastructure problems. The majority of Kherson residents, mentioned in the Sky News article, told reporters of their joy that the city had returned under the control of Ukraine, even with all the difficulties. 

Kremlin propaganda media seeks to create the perception as if the dire living conditions in Kherson are the result of the liberation of the region by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. For this purpose, the Kremlin media has selected a single quote by an individual resident who expressed dissatisfaction with the provided medical aid and presented it as if it depicts the position of the whole population. The context provided in the article by Sky News is being omitted in the misleading articles disseminated by the Kremlin media. 

According to the article by Sky News, it is the daily rocket and mortar strikes launched by Russian troops that have left more than 40 civilians, including at least one child, dead, and which has affected the stability of the city’s infrastructure. The article quotes Halyna Luhova, the de-facto mayor, who said in an interview: “They shell us daily . . . innocent civilians die . . . but even if we will be hungry, freezing, without electricity — we will be without Russians.” 

The quote cited by Ria Novosti was said by Natalia Skyba, who approached the mayor complaining she had pain in one of her eyes. When asked by Sky News if she thought life was better or worse now Russia’s occupation had ended, she said: “Worse. Worse. They are giving us aid but not for everyone.” However, the mayor had previously addressed her complaint, telling her that “We will be giving people a bag with necessary medicine. You will be receiving humanitarian aid with this bag with all the necessary [supplies].” 

The article follows this quote by specifically addressing what life was like in Kherson under Russian control, stating that people who opposed the occupation lived under fear of arrest, torture, and even death. The regional capital of the Kherson province fell under full Russian control in March, having been at the forefront of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Over the next eight months, numerous human rights violations by Russian troops and the Russian state were reported. The Human Rights Watch reported that Russian forces tortured, unlawfully detained, and forcibly disappeared civilians in Kherson, as well as the surrounding regions. They also recorded instances of torture on prisoners of war held there, at least two of whom died. Ukrainian troops entered the centre of Kherson on 11 November, following the Russian pullout across the Dnipro River. However, the Human Rights Watch is still recording violations by Russian forces, including the use of cluster munitions on civilian-populated areas of Kherson, resulting in civilian casualties.

The article and locals quoted place the hardships people are facing now squarely on the Russian forces who are shelling the city, making it unsafe for people to stay. The majority of the people quoted in the Sky News piece were glad that the city has been retaken by the Ukrainian forces, even if they now face new troubles due to the Russian shelling. The first person quoted in the article is Yulia Khomchyk, who discovered she was pregnant in February, after Russian forces had seized the regional capital. Khomchyk gave birth after the Ukrainian counter-offensive liberated the city, and she states her pride that her daughter is “clearly Ukrainian, clearly born without all this occupation.” Leonid Borovskyi, whose apartment block has seen Russian shelling, was asked whether enduring Russian attacks was a price worth paying for liberation. He told Sky News, “From the one side — yes. From the other side — no,” before stating that “Freedom comes at a high price.” Viktoria Tupikonenko told Sky News that though she is leaving the city due to the shelling, the pain is a price worth paying: “Freedom yes! We need to hold on.” 


Alexandra Kuenning
Erasmus CEERES Master’s student, Intern at Myth Detector


The article has been written in the framework of Facebook’s fact-checking program. You can read more about the restrictions that Facebook may impose based on this article via this link. You can find information about appealing or editing our assessment via this link.

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Topic: Politics
Violation: Manipulation
Country: Ukraine
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