Tabloid Asaval-Dasavali released an article in its October 23-29 edition headlined “And These People Teach Us How to Live.” The editorial board claims that Europe promotes depravity instead of democracy, adding that tourists from the Great Britain, Germany, Sweden and Holland purposely arrive in Serbia to have sex with animals, as zoophiles are offered sex tours there.
Giorgi Gigauri, journalist: “Europe, towards which we are pushed, astonishes us more and more as time passes! Not by its democracy, not by humanist ideas, but by depravity and unimaginable foulness. Several days ago Germany’s largest commercial TV channel RTL aired a sensational news story according to which tourists from the Great Britain, Germany, Sweden and Holland purposely arrive in Serbia to enjoy sex with animals there! The same is confirmed by the British publication The Mirror, which claims that Serbia is real Mecca for Zoophiles’ sex tours!”
Asaval-Dasavali released an unverified news story, because the British newspaper The Mirror removed the image of a dog in tights that was used as a proof of sex tourism in Serbia from its website, after it appeared to be a dog meme spread on Chinese social media website, which had nothing to do with Serbia.
British tabloid The Mirror reported on animal brothels in the Serbian capital in its article released on October 18, 2017, making references to an investigation carried out by TV channel RTL, as well as the statement issued by anti-animal cruelty group called Levijatan in social networks. Initially, it also provided an image as a proof. The article quotes Pavle Bihal, who runs Levijatan, as saying that “we have information about a club, which is actually an apartment, where all this happens, but we are currently waiting for the location to be confirmed so we can report all to the police.”
The article ends with the editorial note, according to which “this article originally included an image and reference to a dog in tights. The picture was supplied to use by an agency and used in good faith after it appeared during the broadcaster on RTL, a respected European TV channel. When we were alerted to the picture not being directly related to the animal brothel claims we removed it and the reference from the story.”
Photo manipulation: Chinese social website’s meme
In September 2017, anti-animal cruelty group Levijatan uploaded a post on its Facebook page concerning animal brothels in Belgrade. The post was accompanied by an image and a text, according to which local cultures should have denounced “western tendencies” duly.
Later Facebook users indicated that a dog image dressed up in tights and heels was actually part of a strange tendency spread in the Chinese social network Weibo in 2013.
According to the U.S. Internet media company BuzzFeed, users of Chinese microblogging website, Weibo, started to post dog images as part of an internet meme that involved putting dogs in tights and pantyhose. This particular photo was uploaded on Weibo in May 2017.
In response to users’ remarks, Levijatan acknowledged that they knew the photo was not from a dog brothel, but still used it as an illustration to the story. The Mirror removed the image from its website.
Prepared by Rauf Makhamarov
Myth Detector Laboratory