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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Basuring Fake Photos

Publication: Polygraph
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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Basurin Caught with Fake Photos of 3 'Ukrainian Terrorists'

Headline: Russian-Backed Separatist Commander Claims 3 Ukrainian Female Terrorists Dropped Behind Enemy Lines


Eduard Basurin, defense minister of self-proclaimed 'Donetsk People's Republic"


Statement on left


"In August 2016, a group of three women arrived from Ukraine who had undergone training under the oversight of instructors from the special operations forces."




Conclusion (Background color=orange)




Date: September 21, 2016


Condensed Version


The defense minister of the self-proclaimed 'Donetsk People's Republic' claimed at a military briefing August 30 that three Ukrainian women trained by special forces have been dropped behind enemy lines to stage terrorist attacks and gather intelligence. But the names and pictures of two of the women turn out to match photos of completely different women with other names published in 2015 and an unidentified Ukrainian woman soldier published in 2014. DNR briefers didn't seem to realize that the picture of a woman they cropped from a photo of a hospital visit of someone they describe as "Myroslava Klimenko" was in fact Irina Yarosh, the daughter of Dmytro Yarosh, the former leader of the ultraright group Right Sector. They were also discovered to have used for the photo of another of the purported "terrorists," the girlfriend of an ardent opponent of Yarosh who had clashed with his followers and then fled to Russia.


FB tease: The defense minister of the self-proclaimed 'Donetsk People's Republic,' backed by Russia, claimed at a military briefing that Ukrainian forces had trained and deployed three female terrorists and dropped them behind enemy lines. But the pictures and names were traced by independent Russian and Ukrainian media to completely different people with established identities, at least one of whom was in fact associated with the DNR cause. The expose indicates that DNR propagandists likely took three old random photos from media sites and cropped them to make up their "wanted poster" of the Ukrainian female "terrorists."




Twitter: Russian-backed separatist commander who claimed Ukraine sent 3 female terrorists to attack Donbas exposed by media as using fake photos. fact-check:




A Russian-backed separatist commander has claimed Ukraine has sent female terrorists to attack the Donbas, but has been caught using fake photos and IDs that belong to other people.


Eduard Basurin, the self-styled "defense minister" of the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" (DNR) and deputy commander of the DNR forces, claimed at his daily battle briefing that the Ukrainian Armed Forces had deployed a "a terrorist group of three persons,” DAN News, the news service of the DNR reported August 30, 2016:


"In August 2016, a group composed of three women arrived from the territory of Ukraine who had passed through training under the oversight of instructors from the special operations forces and the [Ukrainian] Main Directorate of Intelligence [GUR]. Their main task was to commit terrorist acts on the territory of the [Donetsk People's] Republic, recruit officers of the force units, create an agents' network and obtain and transmit intelligence data."


Basurin added that the women had been put on the wanted list in the DNR and warned that they and any accomplices would be sentenced to the death penalty under war-time laws. DAN published three photos and two names of women said to be the "special agents" being dropped behind enemy lines.


The pro-Kremlin Russian publications and Life News reprinted the DAN notice.


DAN published photos of two women identified as Anna Tarasyuk and Miroslava Klimchuk and a third woman in a military uniform whose identity was not established.


The independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta traced the names and pictures of the women claimed to be "terrorists" planted by Kiev and concluded that they were apparently taken randomly from pictures of three other women with different names and identities.


The exact same picture of "Anna Tarasyuk" was published August 24, 2016, Komsomolskaya Pravda Ural only identified as Tatyana Tsykina, under the headline "Girl from Nizhny Tagil Saves Guy Who Challenged Right Sector."


Right Sector is the ultra-nationalist group in Ukraine whose members have volunteered as fighters with the Ukrainian Army. It seems that Tsykina met online and fell in love with a Ukrainian man named Sergei Danchenko who was furious at the Maidan protests in Kiev and even angrier when the Right Sector reportedly sent activists into his town. He and his friends went to fight Right Sector, but were outnumbered.


Tsykina, who lives in Nizny Tagil, Russia convinced Sergei to move to her town. As he believed the Ukrainian authorities were pursuing him, he decided to flee Ukraine for Russia. Komsomolskaya Pravda doesn't describe Tsykina's sympathies, but it seems that she was compatible with this fierce anti-Maidan activist and was unlikely to have later joined a "terrorist group" dropped into Ukraine.


The photo of the second woman, wearing a hospital gown, whose name was given as “Miroslava Klimchuk” was in fact cropped from a photo with Dmytro Yarosh, then leader of Right Sector, while he was in the hospital in January 2015 recovering from a war wound. The photo appeared on the Ukrainian site on January 23, 2015,, and other Ukrainian media and social media. reported that the photo was taken from Right Sector's Facebook page but was unable to identify the woman.


Polygraph found that the photo was first posted by Ukrainian journalist Kateryna Avramchuk on January 23, 2015 on Twitter, and Dmytro Yarosh later wrote on his Facebook page that the unidentified woman was actually his own daughter, Irina Yarosh, reported.


Yarosh laughed off Basurin’s claim as fake, commenting that the "Russian-terrorist Orcs have once again 'failed'...My daughter Ira was ascribed to the Ukrop saboteurs." (Ukrop, literally "dill-weed," is a pejorative term used by Russians for Ukrainians.).


In an interviews with Bigmir in May 2014, Yarosh said his daughter, then 20, was in the far-right Ukrainian paramilitary organization Tryzub founded by the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists in 1993.


Even so, there does not appear to be any evidence that Irina was trained and deployed by Ukrainian special forces. Given that ordinarily the DNR would have made hay with such biographical details involving the high-profile figure Yarosh, it is likely that the pro-Russian propagandists simply didn't realize the identity of the woman in the hospital picture and made up a name for her.


The third photograph was originally published by Reuters on October 8, 2014. It is captioned only as "A Ukrainian servicewoman" and was taken in Horlivka.


The picture contains a sign for the 34th Battalion of the Ukrainian Army with is partly cropped from DAN's version of the photo.


While both the Russian-backed separatists and the Ukrainian forces call each others' fighters "terrorists," it appears that the DNR propagandists took this old photo of a Ukrainian soldier to help make up the story of the "three saboteurs." Given that two out of the three photos belong to women with other names and established identities different than claimed, it is likely the third was used for the fake story as well.


Catherine A. Fitzpatrick