House Republican leaders on Friday unveiled their “Commitment to America” agenda for 2023 ― and with it, an inspirational video chock full of scenes presented as exceptional imagery of America but that are actually stock footage from Russia and Ukraine.
The GOP’s video, “The Preamble to the Commitment to America,” opens with a narrator highlighting aspects of what it means to be an American.
“We celebrate the rich heritage of the American story and the vibrancy of the American Dream,” the voice says, over footage of a drilling rig at sunrise.
But this video snippet, an apparent nod to America’s natural resources, wasn’t even filmed in America. It’s stock footage created by Serg Grbanoff, a filmmaker based in Russia.
Grbanoff told HuffPost that he filmed this scene in Russia’s Volgograd region. Here’s a screenshot of the image in the House Republican leaders’ video, versus an original shot on Shutterstock’s website:
House Republicans used stock footage of a drilling rig in Russia in their video celebrating their vision for America in 2023. (Photo: Shutterstock/House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's YouTube Page)
It’s not the only instance where Grbanoff’s work appears in the GOP’s video celebrating America.
In another scene, a boy is seen smiling and running in a field with a toy airplane. The words “Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” appear on the screen, a reference to the Declaration of Independence.
This clip was also created by Grbanoff, and also filmed in the Volgograd region of Russia. Here’s a screenshot of the image in the GOP’s video versus an original shot on Shutterstock’s website:
Here is a boy holding a toy airplane who appears in a video from House Republicans celebrating American exceptionalism. This boy was actually filmed in Russia. (Photo: Shutterstock/House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's YouTube Page)
At another point in the video, Republicans take a shot at Democrats on the economy.
“Democrats have led America off track,” the narrator says. The words “Crippling inflation and rampant crime” appear on the screen, over a shot of a woman walking through a grocery store.
The video from House Republicans also featured this woman walking through a European grocery store. (Photo: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's YouTube Page)
But this is footage from a European grocery store. If you look closely at the screenshot, you can see a tag hanging on one of the store shelves that says “AKCIA,” a Slovak word meaning “action.” Informally, “AKCIA” is used to designate sales in Slovakian stores.
House Republicans almost certainly used imagery from Ukraine in their video about America, too.
The video includes a clip of a farmer carrying a bag on his shoulder in a field of corn, as the words “And the vibrancy of the American Dream” appear on the screen.
Republicans almost certainly used video footage from Ukraine in their video celebrating America. (Photo: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's YouTube page)
This is also stock footage sourced from a Shutterstock contributor, DedovStock. The man featured in the clip works for DedovStock, and has a page of his work on its website. His page features shots of him in Ukraine and the Carpathian Mountains, which stretch through Ukraine and parts of Eastern Europe.
HuffPost reached out to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for comment on why GOP leaders rolled out their plan for America with a video featuring stock footage from Russia.
“Interesting how you guys aren’t remotely interested on the issues facing the American people in the video,” responded McCarthy spokesman Mark Bednar.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.