Fact Check

Is This Real Footage of Ukrainians Burning Russian-Affiliated Orthodox Church?

Pro-Kremlin social media accounts accused Ukrainians of calling for attacks on churches where Russian was spoken.

Published Apr 7, 2023

 (Screenshot via Twitter/DagnyTaggart963)
Image Via Screenshot via Twitter/DagnyTaggart963
Video footage from spring 2023 authentically showed radical supporters of a Ukrainian church burning a Russia-affiliated Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) in the Ukrainian village of Novopoltavka.

The video being shared was posted on YouTube around 10 years ago and is reportedly of a church being burned in Russia.

Pro-Russian social media accounts were sharing a video of a burning church beginning in early April 2023, claiming that it showed "radical" supporters of a Ukrainian church burning down a Russian-affiliated Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) in Ukraine. 

One Twitter user, @DagnyTaggart963, claimed, "Radical supporters of the Ukrainian Church burned the church of the Moscow Patriarchate in the village of Novopoltavka (Nikolaev region). Earlier, Korchinsky (he is a follower of certain ideology) called for the burning of churches if Russian language was spoken there." 

This user may be referring to Dmytro Korchynsky, a Ukrainian leader of a nationalist party. 

The Russian Embassy in London's official Facebook account shared the same video, claiming it was set on fire by either "security forces or dissenters." They wrote, "Another Orthodox church burned down in Ukraine. This time a cruel fate befell a church of the canonical [Ukrainian Orthodox Church] in the village of Novopoltavka." 

Neither of these posts was correct. We searched for images of the burning church and found the exact video on YouTube dating from a decade ago. The video appeared to be of a church burning somewhere in Russia. 

BBC journalist Shayan Sardarizadeh reported that the original video was from the Russian Astrakhan region and was taken in 2013. 

We should note that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has long been perceived as an arm of the Russian Orthodox Church. Russia has also cited the "de-Satanization" of Ukraine and the defense of Orthodoxy among the goals of its invasion into the country. While the UOC declared independence from Moscow in 2022, it has still faced calls by Ukrainian authorities to be shut down completely and has undergone raids and searches from the government. 

Given that the video being shared by pro-Kremlin accounts is clearly from a decade prior and not a recent burning of a Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Ukraine, we rate this claim as "Miscaptioned." 


DagnyTaggert 963. Twitter, https://twitter.com/DagnyTaggart963/status/1643693087955337216. Accessed 7 Apr. 2023.

"Hundreds Mourn Ukrainian Saboteurs Killed in Russia." France 24, 7 Mar. 2023, https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20230307-hundreds-mourn-ukrainian-saboteurs-killed-in-russia. Accessed 7 Apr. 2023.

Luchenko, Ksenia. "Can the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Survive the War With Russia?" Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, https://carnegieendowment.org/politika/88811. Accessed 7 Apr. 2023.

Palikot, Aleksander. "Ukraine's Orthodox Church Conflict: A Wartime Struggle For 'Spiritual Independence' And Security." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 30 Mar. 2023. www.rferl.org, https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-orthodox-church-moscow-independence/32197737.html. Accessed 7 Apr. 2023.

"Горит Церковь в Ильинке 4." www.youtube.com, 22 Jan. 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaTOyMXisLo. Accessed 7 Apr. 2023.

Russian Embassy in London, 7 Apr. 2023, https://www.facebook.com/RussianEmbassy/posts/596032372439935/. Accessed 7 Apr. 2023.

Nur Nasreen Ibrahim is a reporter with experience working in television, international news coverage, fact checking, and creative writing.

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