Fact Check

Ukraine Video Does Not Show Women Carrying Film Prop Stones Out of Church Hit by Russian Airstrike

Sam Doak, a fact checker for the Logically Facts website, found the truth behind this baseless conspiracy theory.

Published July 27, 2023

 (Twitter via Sky News)
Image courtesy of Twitter via Sky News
A video broadcast by Sky News shows women carrying film props meant to resemble concrete out of a church in Ukraine hit by a Russian airstrike in July 2023.

On July 25, 2023, a user on the platform formerly known as Twitter published a tweet with a low-quality video, and added the caption, "Sky News plays a clip of a 'bombed' Ukraine building in the background. Keep a close eye on the women carrying the 'heavy stones.' This is all a movie."

This tweet, as well as others, implied that the objects the women were carrying were lightweight movie props, perhaps meant to resemble heavy pieces of concrete.

However, this was not true. In cases like this where a video is real, but the caption is incorrect, we provide a "Miscaptioned" fact-check rating.

We located other examples of postings of the same low-quality video that were similarly miscaptioned. Additional postings of this misleading rumor were found on Truth Social and YouTube.

One of the misleading tweets came from Jayda Fransen, whose Twitter bio said she's the leader of the British Freedom Party.

In Fransen's tweet, she ended with the words, "Anyone who believes this shite, please do venture to offer an explanation… I'll wait."

Here's an explanation.

These tweets all seemed to promote the same false narrative that claimed some or all of Russia's invasion of Ukraine was being staged. Such tweets disregard the fact that, as of July 2023, 9,177 civilians had been killed in the war, including over 500 children, according to reporting from the United Nation's Human Rights Monitoring Mission. In addition to the death count, 15,993 injuries had also been confirmed by the same body.

The truth of this matter involving the miscaptioned video was spelled out in a tweet thread by Sam Doak, a fact-checker with the Logically Facts website, whose bio says that he earned a master's degree in human rights and international politics at the University of Glasgow.

Doak tweeted that he searched for the source of the video, seeing as its quality in popular tweets was quite poor. He soon found that the longer, high-quality footage had originally been posted by the Iraq-based media network Rudaw.

In the reporting from Rudaw, journalist Dilnya Rahman began her reporting by providing the context of the video, describing what was believed to be a Russian airstrike at Odessa's Transfiguration Cathedral in Ukraine, a story that also was reported by reputable sites like CNN, The Guardian, and The Associated Press. The airstrike occurred in the early morning hours of July 23 – which was a Sunday – a day when services would have been held at the church.

Rahman, who appeared in the longer video that contained the footage of the women carrying the objects, reported on camera in front of the church. She said of the people who were helping to clean up following the airstrike, "They wanted to go inside the church to pray since it's Sunday. As I said, the people are still in shock. Everyone is here to clean the area, including the young and old."

The longer video showed large piles of debris from the attack that had been collected in piles outside.

In Doak's tweet thread, he mentioned that the objects being carried by the women in the longer, higher-quality video looked to be not heavy stones or concrete, but rather a "light, polystyrene-like material" that had likely been used for the church's insulation.

Doak also published an article on the Logically Facts website about this false rumor.

It's unclear if the people who had helped to clean up the church had a chance to see that their efforts were being misrepresented on social media. However, again, what was clear was that Ukrainian citizens were dying and being injured in large numbers, including children, and that such casualties and airstrikes were being witnessed not just by locals, but also journalists who were risking their lives to bring the world the truth.


Arhirova, Hanna, and Elise Morton. "Russian Strike on Ukraine's Odesa Badly Damages Landmark Orthodox Cathedral; 1 Dead, Many Wounded." The Associated Press, 23 July 2023, https://apnews.com/article/odesa-missile-grain-deal-ukraine-russia-adc78b45e74e0236125b1ec706e5d7da.

Chen, Heather, et al. "Historic Ukrainian Cathedral Badly Damaged in Russian Strikes." CNN, 23 July 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/07/23/world/odesa-attacks-saturday-russia-ukraine-intl-hnk/index.html.

Doak, Sam. "No, This Video Doesn't Show Ukrainians Faking Damage at Odesa's Transfiguration Cathedral with Props." Logically Facts, 26 July 2023, https://www.logicallyfacts.com/en/fact-check/false-no-this-video-doesn-t-show-ukrainians-faking-damage-at-odesa-s-transfiguration-cathedral-with-props.

"'Grim Milestone' as Ukraine War Reaches 500-Day Mark." UN News, 7 July 2023, https://news.un.org/en/story/2023/07/1138442.

Rahman, Dilnya. "Russian Strikes Destroy Historic Church in Ukraine's Odesa." Rudaw, 23 July 2023, https://www.rudaw.net/english/world/230720231.

"Sam Doak." Logically Facts, https://www.logicallyfacts.com/en/meet-the-team/sam-doak.

Walker, Shaun. "'This Is Barbarism': Shock at Russian Strike on Odesa Cathedral." The Guardian, 23 July 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/jul/23/this-is-barbarism-shock-at-russian-strike-on-odesa-cathedral.

Jordan Liles is a Senior Reporter who has been with Snopes since 2016.

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