A video-investigation conducted by the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, claiming that Russian President Vladimir Putin spent a huge amount of money on the extravagant palace at the Black Sea, generated more than 100 million views, just ten weeks after it has become viral. Alexei Navalny’s team posted the video after Navalny had been taken into custody upon his return to Moscow from Berlin, where he had been treated for poisoning with a Novichok nerve agent.
The video is about an alleged Putin’s palace at the Gelendzhik Bay, constructed with illicit funds provided by members of Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, including oil company CEOs and billionaires.
In order to discredit the truthfulness of the video, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia (MID) posted yesterday on their Twitter account the following: Have Western investigative journalists already found out, why in the US-German “movie” the entrance to the so-called “Putin’s Palace” is decorated with the coat of arms… of #Montenegro?
Many people commented below the tweet that the MID is fabricating the story; that they inserted the photo by editing. However, the coat of arms of Montenegro does appear in the movie, so it was not about a montage. The disinformation has been quickly spread among the Montenegrin media. The news portal Pobjeda published the news late last night under the headline: The original documentary of Alexei Navalny’s team edited by inserting the coat of arms of Montenegro! The same was quickly done by news portals Portal Analitika and Antena M (which published a démanti after the DFC’s reaction), including the CdM news portal this morning.
What is really behind the Montenegrin coat of arms appearing in the documentary?
At one moment in the video, Navalny stated that some parts of it were produced by using computer-generated imagery and renders, so some minor mistakes are possible to occur. When it comes to the real video material, one can see that a disputable gate with the Russian (not Montenegrin) coat of arms on it appears several times (48:44). However, the Montenegrin coat of arms does appear at 59:35, which is obviously computer-generated video footage, so those who had produced the video did the mistake.
To sum up, the Russian MID did not insert our coat of arms by editing, as claimed by the Montenegrin media. However, they did omit the key information about computer-generated imagery being used to produce some parts of the video, which caused the mistake in the first place. By omitting this information, the Russian MID has also disinformed the public, leading people to a certain conclusion.