Decade-old video shared as Vladimir Putin attending Wagner boss Prigozhin's funeral

By: Annet Preethi Furtado
September 4 2023

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Decade-old video shared as Vladimir Putin attending Wagner boss Prigozhin's funeral


The Verdict False

The video is from 2013 and shows Putin attending the funeral of his former judo trainer. It has no connection to Yevgeny Prigozhin's funeral.

Claim ID 4b6f67a5

On August 23, the head of the Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, was involved in a plane crash two months after his short-lived coup attempt against Russian President Vladimir Putin. The fatal crash, which killed all the passengers, occurred in the Tver region, north of Moscow. The plane's manifest included Prigozhin, his associate Dmitry Utkin, logistics head Valery Chekalov, and four other passengers and three crew members. 

Reports said that Russian authorities officially confirmed Prigozhin's death after conducting genetic analysis on the recovered bodies from the plane crash. The investigative committee stated that the identities of all 10 victims had been established and were consistent with the flight's passenger list.

What is the claim?

A brief 59-second video circulated on social media, purportedly depicting Russian President Putin attending the funeral of Wagner Group's former chief. In the video, Putin is seen placing a bouquet of red roses near a coffin, extending condolences to the attendees, standing beside the open casket, and looking inside. Subsequently, Putin stands amid the crowd as a black hearse pulls away. Later, the president walks towards a black limousine but opts not to board the vehicle. Instead, he walks alone down an empty street.

This video was widely shared on X (formerly Twitter) with the claim that the president attended Prigozhin's funeral. One post sharing the video read, "Vladimir Putin pays his last respects to Yevgeny Prigozhin the Wagner Boss and then declines to get into his Limousine and walks on foot from the occasion." The archives can be found here and here

The video is being shared with a claim that it shows Putin paying his last respects to Prigozhin. Source: X/@RealOlaudah/@onmonyageorge/Altered by Logically Facts)

However, the video is over a decade old and has no connection to the late Wagner Group chief Prigozhin.

What are the facts?

Upon conducting a reverse image search, we found a video similar to the widely circulated clip, uploaded on August 10, 2013, to the YouTube channel 'Epsilon News Network.' The footage contains several segments resembling the viral clip. The YouTube video lasts 84 seconds, with the viral video being a shorter version.

According to its description, the video depicted the funeral of Anatoly Rakhlin, who had once served as Putin's judo trainer. The funeral occurred in St. Petersburg on August 9, 2013. After paying his respects to Rakhlin, Putin took a moment for personal reflection and embarked on a solitary walk along Vatutina Street, the description read. Putin's connection with Rakhlin extended back to 1966 when Putin, at the age of 14, commenced his judo training under Rakhlin's mentorship, it further said. The beginning of the YouTube video also shows a photo frame with a photo of a man in a judo uniform and a judo outfit kept beside the frame. 

Around the 0:12 timestamp, the YouTube video shows Putin placing a bouquet of red roses. This scene is very similar to a segment of the viral video captured in the first nine seconds, albeit from a different angle.

The YouTube video and the viral clip both show Putin placing red roses on the coffin. (Source: X/@RealOlaudah/YouTube)

Another scene shows Putin standing beside the open casket. This particular moment, captured in the YouTube video from 0:26 to 0:30 seconds, aligns with a section of the viral video spanning from 0:016 to 0:020 seconds.

Putin standing next to the open casket has been captured in both videos. (Source: X/@RealOlaudah/YouTube)

Another noteworthy bit is the scenes captured around the 1:07 mark in the YouTube video, which shows Putin approaching a black limousine while surrounded by security personnel. Subsequently, Putin opts not to enter the black limousine but instead prefers to walk down an empty street without his usual escort of bodyguards and press—this is the exact scene seen in the viral video at the 0:28 timestamp.

The Epsilon News Network YouTube video and the viral clip both show Putin approaching a black limousine while surrounded by security personnel. (Source: X/@RealOlaudah/YouTube)

In 2013, the state-owned video news agency Ruptly posted the same video on its website. The video was posted with the headline, "Russia: Putin shows respect for his lost mentor Rakhlin."

A 2013 report by Sky News titled "Russia's Putin In Rare Public Display Of Emotion" featured a segment of the viral video that showed him walking alone down the street. The report further stated that in August 2013, Putin attended Rakhlin's funeral and later proceeded on a solitary walk along an empty street leading to the River Neva. The video within the report also captured this walking scene. Furthermore, the report noted that skeptics had questioned the genuineness of the event, citing pre-cleared roads and strategically placed cameras to capture the president's walk.

What about Prigozhin's funeral?

Prigozhin's last rites were conducted in a private burial ceremony at the Porokhovskoye cemetery in Moscow on August 29. AP News reported Putin's spokesperson officially stated that the president would not attend the service. Russian state television, which has traditionally been the primary information source for most Russians, offered limited coverage of the funeral. AP News also reported that Russian media, citing undisclosed sources, had said that Prigozhin was laid to rest on August 29 with minimal public attention, aligning with his family's preferences.

The verdict

A decade-old video showing Putin at his judo trainer Rakhlin's funeral was incorrectly shared as the former attending Prigozhin's funeral in August. Therefore, we mark the claim false.

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