It was sexy videowhich went viral when it appeared last Friday on Telegram channels sympathetic to the Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Supposedly it showed a barrage of gunfire and shelling by Polish-speaking saboteurs trying to blow up a chlorine tank near the city of Horlivka a week earlier – on February 11. Territories controlled by separatists The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.
It was captured by the press service of the People’s Militia of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and claimed that the vandals were killed and the video was recovered from their bodies.
However, metadata from the video file reveals the date of creation on February 8, ten days before it was shared on Telegram, according to a CNN analysis. Three days before the alleged date of the attack.
The metadata of the videos posted there are preserved by the messaging platform and cannot be changed.
but, this is not every thing. Another section of metadata – called the Repository Creation Tool – revealed that Adobe Premiere Pro was used to edit video with different assets – called “components” – from a separate repository.
said Givi Gigitashvili, Research Associate at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Laboratory.
He added, “The component file path for this particular video has the name ‘2021-02-04 ВИДЕО-ЗАПИСЬ ДРГ (+). mp4’, which may indicate that some components date back to 2021.”
The location of this video and other video assets also have “2021” and “February 2” as the project folder names, again indicating that the original timeframe goes back to last year.
Among these assets, also in the Metadata Provisions section, is the file name “M72A5 LAW, AIPLAS live fire.mp4.”
As noted by Eliot Higgins, founder and creative director of Bellingcat, the file name corresponds to a YouTube video of the same name, showing explosions and shootings at a location in Finland.
CNN asked Rob Maher, an audio forensic expert at Montana State University, to analyze the media assets. Compare the sound of the arm sequence from a still in a YouTube video with a similar sound in a Telegram video.
“The sequence of mutations is remarkably similar in timing,” Maher concluded. “For the particular mutation you’re comparing, the timing isn’t exactly identical, but it’s inexplicably similar.”
According to Maher, for the boom sequences in both videos to be similar, “the geometric relationship between the artillery piece, the target, and the microphone must be the same”—which means they must be in the same position in both videos.
If the geometry is different, the relative time for arrival of different boom sounds will be different because the boom sound will propagate at different mic speeds.
Maher concluded, “It seems unexpected and coincidental that the audio access times are very similar in the two ‘unrelated’ videos.”
Maher’s findings were confirmed by sound designers and other experts on Twitter like Ciaran Walsh, who compared spectral analysis of the explosions in the two videos, and came to similar conclusions.
“I think there is a lot of evidence that the audio was added from this YouTube video,” Gigitashvili said.
This is not the first time he has seen separatists post questionable videos on Telegram. A CNN analysis of Friday’s video statements of leaders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Luhansk People’s Republic revealed that The footage was recorded two days ago.