2013 video of church fire in Russia falsely circulated as a church burnt down in Ukraine

By: Rohith Gutta
April 13 2023

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2013 video of church fire in Russia falsely circulated as a church burnt down in Ukraine


The Verdict False

An old video from 2013 of a church in Russia catching fire has been shared with the false claim that it is a recent video from Ukraine.

Claim ID 3f13ce4c


A video circulating on social media platforms falsely claims that a Russian Orthodox church was burnt down by villagers in Novopoltavka in Ukraine’s Mykolaiv region. A viral tweet states “Radical supporters of the Ukrainian Church burned the church of the Moscow Patriarchate in the village of Novopoltavka. Earlier, Korchinsky called for the burning of churches if the Russian language was spoken there.” The video has over 270,000 views and has been retweeted over 800 times. The video was cross-posted on other social media platforms with a similar claim.

The 14-second video shows smoke billowing out of a church on fire as people watch. However, Logically Facts has found that this video is not recent but is at least ten years old. 

In Fact

A reverse image search on frames from the video led to a YouTube channel named “Elena Kruganova,” which first shared an extended version of the video on January 23, 2013. The section of the video that has gone viral was taken from 00:01- 00:13 in the 2013 video. The video’s caption, written in Russian, reads “burning church in Ilyinka 4” when translated into English.

A report on the Russian website Astrahan shows visuals of the church on fire similar to the ones in the viral video. According to the report, the church was located in Ilyinka in Volodarsky District, Astrakhan Oblast in Russia, not Ukraine, and was gutted in a fire in January 2013. An additional report from the Russian website Volgograd also reported on the fire, stating that while it was unclear what started the fire, authorities speculate that faulty wiring or a fallen candle may have been the cause. There is no evidence that the church was set ablaze on purpose.

Further research showed that the Ukrainian Center for Strategic Communication and Information Security (SPRAVDI) has also debunked the claims made in the viral tweet. In a series of tweets, SPRAVDI stated the church was not located in Novapoltavka in Ukraine, writing "Propagandists write about the burning of a church in Ukraine. But this is as far from the truth as possible." A further tweet states "Propagandists spread the video claiming that ‘whether security forces or separatists’ set the Orthodox church on fire in the Ukrainian village Novopoltavka. But there is one nuance. This video was shot 10 years ago in the Russian village of Ilyinka."

The Verdict

The video does not show a church burning in Ukraine and official sources confirm that the original video is of a church burning in Ilyinka, Russia. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.

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Global Fact-Checks Completed

We rely on information to make meaningful decisions that affect our lives, but the nature of the internet means that misinformation reaches more people faster than ever before