Fact check: Video shows Austrian climate protest, not 'crisis actors' in Ukraine

The claim: A video shows 'crisis actors' pretending to be dead in Ukraine

Hundreds of Ukrainian civilians have died since Russia invaded the country in late February, according to the United Nations. But online, some claim a video shows evidence of "crisis actors" pretending to be dead.

In the video, a reporter stands in the foreground. Behind him, dozens of people lie prone in what appear to be body bags. One of the people is shown moving.

"Good morning just a update and total of person died in Ukraine lol," reads the caption of a March 6 Facebook post, which was shared more than 3,000 times within four hours but has since apparently been deleted. Another version of the claim was posted Feb. 28 on Facebook.

"Crisis actor" is a term commonly used by conspiracy theorists when falsely accusing victims of high-profile tragedies of being paid actors.

The video includes what appears to be a chyron that reads, "Ukrainian Health Ministry: 57 dead, 169 hurt across Ukraine as Russia launches attack." A version of the video posted on Twitter received more than 16,000 views in five days.

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But the clip is not from Ukraine – it shows an Austrian climate protest, as independent fact-checking organizations have reported. The video appears to have been altered to include the chyron about Ukrainian deaths and injuries.

USA TODAY reached out to the social media users who shared the claim for comment.

Video shows protest in Austria

OE24, an Austrian news outlet, uploaded the video in the post to YouTube on Feb. 4 – almost three weeks before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The original video is titled "Vienna: Demo against climate policy," according to a Google translation.

Reporter Marvin Bergauer told USA TODAY the video shows him covering a Fridays For Future protest. Fridays For Future is a youth-led climate justice group, according to a Google translation of the group's website.

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The demonstrators were lying on the ground in body bags to symbolize future mortalities related to climate change, Bergauer said in an Instagram message.

Fact check: Austrian news clip shows climate protesters, not COVID-19 crisis actors

Bergauer's Instagram page includes a reel labeled "Fake News" that shows examples of how the segment has been misrepresented online. In early February, USA TODAY debunked a claim that the same footage showed German COVID-19 crisis actors.

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that a video shows "crisis actors" pretending to be dead in Ukraine. The video is from an Austrian climate protest weeks before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Clip shows climate protest, not Ukrainian 'crisis actors'