Rien Emmery Profile picture
Jul 9, 2022 23 tweets 11 min read Read on X
Remember this "exclusive" story in the Daily Star about "general Pavel", who was supposedly "dragged out of retirement" by Putin and sent to Ukraine?

So yeah, turns out that's total bullshit.

@Lotte_Lambrecht and I found out who's _actually_ in this photo. Follow along!

1/ ImageImage
The Daily Star quoted an anonymous "senior intelligence source" for the article.

It was picked up by virtually every other tabloid in the UK and by a lot of international newspapers. In Belgium @HLN_BE also ran the story: archive.ph/166h9

2/ ImageImage
Reverse Image Search didn't reveal much, apart from the fact that the earliest online version of the photo was a Russian fat joke on Twitter (June 5th) calling our chonky guy the "Commander-in-chief of the Canteen".


In June, the photo also circulated on Reddit, in the r/AbsoluteUnits and PhotoshopBattle-subreddits.

Meme-pages were also having a lot of fun with it.

But nobody mentioned anything about the actual context of the photo.


reddit.com/r/AbsoluteUnit… ImageImage
Also, a lot of people were sceptical of the Daily Star's story. 'Pavel' is only a first name, for instance, and some claimed that the camo worn by 'general Pavel' was actually Ukrainian instead of Russian.

So I became obsessed with finding out where this picture was taken.

We resorted to PimEyes and its facial recognition search capabilities to identify the people on the photo.

We didn't find 'Pavel', but the people to his left turned out to be local administrators from the Yelansky district (Volgograd Oblast), some 800 km from Moscow.

6/ ImageImageImage
Could we find our 'Pavel' in the Yelansky district? Off to Google Maps!

Unfortunately, however, there's no Google Streetview available for Yelan, the largest town in the district. But there are some visitor's photos available for its 'Central Park'.

7/ Image
At about the 50th photo, we spot a pretty distinctive war monument that's also visible in the background of the picture with 'general Pavel'.

8/ Image
The pavement on our picture also matches the pavement in Yelan's central park.

Importantly, at that exact location, there also seems to be a smaller monument in the background, consisting of a red-green pole and a black memorial plaque.

9/ Image
So we have confirmed a location: a park in Yelan, Volgograd Oblast, near some memorials.

But when was this photo taken? Who are the other people in it? And why would 'general Pavel' be there?

It turns out those red-green posts are Russian border pillars.

But Yelan is not near the Russian border. So that leaves the possibility of a memorial for the Border Guard.

11/ Image
And sure enough, the green hats worn by several people in the photo, including our 'general Pavel', turn out to be the (ceremonial) caps of the Russian border guard.

The Border Guard is part of the FSB, not the army.

Is 'Pavel' a border guard?


en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Border_Se… Image
Cue my colleague @Lotte_Lambrecht, who - through some deep searches on Russian search engine Yandex - finds an article on local news site Elanskie-Vesti about a ceremony in Yelan's park on 27 May 2022, with... a larger, original version of our photo!


elanskie-vesti.ru/news/media/202… Image
It turns out to be a local ceremony celebrating "Border Guard Day", a holiday for (former) border guards in Russia.

On Yelansky district's official Telegram, we even find a picture of 'Pavel' at the microphone stand giving a military salute.


kp.ru/family/prazdni… ImageImage
But even though, at this point in our research, we know the exact location and date of the picture, and even though we have identified several other people in it, we still don't know anything about 'general Pavel'.

But that is about to change.

On the Russian social network Odnoklassniki, Lotte finds a group for border guard veterans from Yelan.

And soon after, we find our elusive 'general Pavel'.

Who turns out... not to be a general named Pavel. 😬

16/ Image
Our '67-year old general Pavel' turns out to be the 58-year old Ivan Ivanovich Turchin, veteran of both the Russian military and the Border Guard.

He retired in 2011, after 20 years of service at the border in Uzbekistan.


ok.ru/profile/530054… Image
His social media are absolutely packed with photos from his past, and several pictures of him attending Yelan's Border Guard Day ceremony, at least since 2013.

His recent posts include recipes, songs and inspirational quotes. Nothing indicates that he's in Ukraine.

18/ Image
So this 'exclusive' story - first published by the Daily Star, and picked up by The Sun, The Daily Mail, the New York Post etc. - turns out to be entirely fictional.

We have reached out to the Daily Star for comment but have not received a reply, as of today.

19/ Image
Many thanks to @Lotte_Lambrecht form @Knack for the collab on this fact-check.

You can read her (detailed) write-up of our research here:

Follow her on Twitter for more stellar fact-checks!

My own article (also in Dutch, no paywall) can be found below.

In conclusion: always be skeptical of clickbaity tabloid stories. And let Ivan enjoy his retirement.

Thanks for following along!


P.S. Well, this blew up.

As I cannot keep up with all mentions coming from this thread: send me a private message if you need to ask me something. DMs are always open, especially for fact-checking requests or other tips.
Just a final note: the message here is _not_ that "(western) media can't be trusted!"

Lotte works for @Knack, I work for @Knack and public broadcaster @vrtnws. So we are both journalists for "western media".

(But yes, evidently all media that ran this story should retract it.)

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More from @ArbiterOfTweets

Feb 13
De kans is groot dat je de voorbije dagen een bericht hebt zien passeren over ene "Yusuf" die het woord "feestvarken" zou willen "verbieden" wegens "kwetsend".

Bv. bij Vlaams Belang-parlementslid @SamvanRooy1, die het "islamisering" noemde.

❌ Dit is 100% fake news.

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Het bericht over "Yusuf" circuleerde op een handvol Nederlandse clickbaitsites, met namen als "De Gulden Courant", "TrendNieuws", "DagelijkseVerhalen" etc.

De foto is niet "Yusuf", maar de gratis stockfoto "A Bearded Man in Kufi Cap Using His Laptop"


"Yusuf" zou zogenaamd zijn uitspraken over het woord "feestvarken" gedaan hebben op Reddit.

De artikels stonden vol citaten van "Yusuf" en er is sprake van een uitgebreide discussie over deze kwestie.

Op Reddit is hier totaal niks van terug te vinden.

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Dec 3, 2023
Deze tweet van N-VA-kamerlid Darya Safai lokt veel reacties uit (>4 miljoen keer bekeken).

Enkele "Community Notes" beweren: "dit is een protest tegen IS uit 2017" of "dit is 2020".

Kunnen we achterhalen waar en wanneer dit gefilmd is?

Ja! En iedereen kan dat! Enkele tips.

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Om te beginnen: starten bij de "Community Notes" is geen slecht idee. Het is het crowd-sourced factcheck-systeem van Twitter waarbij iedereen "context" kan toevoegen aan een tweet.

Vaak vind je de juiste context onweerlegbaar aangetoond in een "Community Note".

Een "Community Note" verschijnt pas openbaar bij een tweet als voldoende mensen ze "upvoten" als relevant.

Maar de Notes zijn niet altijd kwalitatief. Veel mensen gebruiken ze om mopjes te maken, of fake info te verspreiden.

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Bepaalde mensen weer WEODEND omdat DE WOKISTEN bij Disney een nieuwe Sneeuwwitje-film hebben gemaakt die zal afwijken van de versie uit 1937.

"Dat ze met hun WOKE VINGERS eens van ONZE volkssprookjes afblijven! 🤬🤬🤬"

Daarom dit pleidooi voor het ECHTE Sneeuwwitje-verhaal.

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En dan bedoel ik de Grimm-versie uit de 19de eeuw natuurlijk. Want weinig mensen weten dit, maar zelfs de film van Walt Disney uit 1937 was al compleet WOKE.

Om te beginnen: géén ontmoeting tussen Sneeuwwitje en de prins aan het begin van het verhaal, Walt.

Verzonnen! Fake!

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De koningin vraagt de jager om haar het hart van Sneeuwwitje te brengen in een doosje?

Totaal niet!

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Read 11 tweets
Jul 8, 2023
Nog eens terugkomen op deze casus, want ze is exemplarisch voor hoe "WOKE WAANZIN!!!"-kwesties vaak ontstaan.

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In het artikel komen de woorden "vrouw" en "meisje" herhaaldelijk voor (geel gemarkeerd).


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Ook in diezelfde zin staat het woord "women".

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Dagje voor de geschiedenisboeken.
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Tegen de achtergrond van "Ze hebben Roald Dahl woke gemaakt! 😡"- gate: een kleine historische parabel.

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