Video doesn’t show Polish-Belarusian activist screaming against Russia

By: Chandan Borgohain
August 21 2023

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Video doesn’t show Polish-Belarusian activist screaming against Russia


The Verdict Misleading

The video shows Jana Szostak's protest against the Belarusian government over journalist Raman Pratasevich's arrest on May 2021.

Claim ID a3ba3315

What’s the claim?

A video of Polish-Belarusian activist Jana Szostak's comments to the press being aired on TV is widely circulating on social media. Sharing the 39-second video, which shows Szostak screaming while two men in uniform stand behind her, social media users claim that the “Polish Liberal Party candidate” is sending out a message to Russia in connection to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict.

A post on the platform X (formerly Twitter) captioned “Politics Poland Jana Szostak, candidate on Polish Liberal Party PO election list makes a statement on Russia. Be True to Yourself!” has amassed over 138k views and over 380 reposts. Another viral post on X with the same video has gained over one million views and over 2,200 reposts. The caption of this post reads, “The counteroffensive is failing, so Jana Szostak (candidate on Polish Liberal Party) sends a message to Russian to explain how the west feels.” Read the archived version here and here.

The video is viral on X. (Source: X/@JamesPorrazzo/@MyLordBebo/Altered by Logically Facts)

The video has been shared on Facebook with similar claims.

The video is circulating on Facebook as well. (Source: Facebook/Altered by Logically Facts)

However, this claim is misleading. While the video does show Szostak (also spelt Shostak), it is not related to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. 

In fact

A search on X led us to a photo uploaded on May 24, 2021, by EPA Images. Comparing the photograph with the viral video, we noticed significant visual similarities indicating that both were from the same event. The photograph shows a wider view where Shostak can be seen in the center holding an SOS placard, wearing the same white blouse and her hair in a braid. The mic's of the news organizations are the same, and both the image and the virlal video has a man in a black suit standing behind her.

A comparison between the viral video and a photo published by EPA. (Source: X/@JamesPorrazzo/@EPA_Images/Altered by Logically Facts)

According to EPA Images, the photo shows Shostak during a "press conference on Belarusian opposition journalist Roman Protasevich in front of the Belarus embassy in Warsaw." We found a video report on Evening Standard's YouTube channel. The report titled “Activist screams for a minute at briefing over situation in Belarus” was published on May 25, 2021. According to the video’s description, Szostak was condemning the arrest of a Belarusian journalist and screamed for a minute during a press conference outside the Belarusian embassy in Warsaw on May 24, 2021. 

In the video, Shostak can be seen walking with the SOS placard before speaking to the press, where she decried the arrest of journalist and activist Raman Pratasevich and screamed (from timestamp 0:45 to 1:04) for more than a minute as a sign of protest. “I was asked to give the last voice that we can’t be silent anymore and all we have left is a minute of screaming. I hope we all scream in our own way,” she said.

Pratasevich, a dissident Belarusian journalist and activist, was arrested on May 23, 2021, after being pulled off a commercial flight. According to The Guardian, a Ryanair jet traveling from Greece to Lithuania was forced to land in Minsk after Belarusian flight controllers told the jet crew there was a bomb threat against the flight. No explosives were found on board and the flight was allowed to continue on to its original destination; however, Pratasevich, who was a Belarusian citizen living in exile at the time, was detained. 

We also found the viral video on the YouTube channel Ciekawe Wydarzenia. The video titled “Shostak's cry of despair in front of the Embassy of Belarus” (translated from Polish) was uploaded on May 24, 2021. The video description, when translated into English, reads, “During the conference, Jana Shostak uttered a minute's cry of despair. This was her cry for help for Belarus. Tears ran down her cheeks.”

According to a report published on the Polish news platform Inertia on May 24, 2021, Shostak performed the protest during a press conference held by “Leftist politicians” against the arrest of Pratasevich. 

The verdict

While the video shows Jana Shostak, it is not related to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. The video shows the Polish-Belarusian activist during a press conference condemning the Belarusian government over the arrest of journalist Raman Pratasevich on May 2021. Therefore, we have marked this claim as misleading.

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