How Russian propaganda units are broadcasting fake Polish TV reports
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Did a Polish news channel really broadcast a weather map showing Poland expanding into Ukrainian territory? Or the TV report on how the Polish army was creating an LGBT paramilitary unit? Both of these video reports do feature the logo of a Polish public broadcaster. But there are a lot of clues that make it pretty clear that these 'reports' are fake.
If you only have a minute:
- An image showing what seems to be a weather report broadcast on Polish TV channel TVP 1 has been circulating on social media since January 17, 2023. On the map, Poland seems to have grown massively, expanding into Ukrainian territory.
- However, there are a few spelling errors on the map that make it seem like the person who created it doesn’t speak Polish. Moreover, the map doesn’t use the same font or graphics as other weather reports on TVP 1. And the presenter actually works for another TV channel.
- Social media users have also been circulating a second video report that also supposedly aired on TVP 1: this one announcing that the Polish army is creating an LGBT paramilitary unit.
- TVP 1 has said that they didn’t broadcast either of these reports. Polish authorities have blamed Russia for trying to incite fear by making people think that Poland is entering the war.
The fact-check, in detail
The image that has been circulating online shows a TV presenter standing in front of a weather map featuring several countries in Eastern Europe.
The image, which has been shared more than 300 times on Twitter, might seem banal at first glance – until you take a closer look at the map. Poland has grown, extending past its official boarder and into western Ukraine. The Ukrainian region around Lviv appears to be part of Poland.
“During the weather report on Polish television, western Ukraine seems to have become part of Poland,” says this social media user in French in a tweet posted on January 17, 2023. You can see the TVP 1 logo in the upper right corner. TVP 1 is the main channel run by Telewizja Polska, the Polish public broadcaster.
“Will Zelensky react? Of course not. But try to draw Russia there...This is the answer to the question: are the Nazis patriots? No, they just hate Russia [sic],” says this tweet, in broken English.
“The allegedly Ukrainian allies have a great appetite,” reads this tweet. The story was also published on several pro-Russian media accounts like Gazeta and Kherson News.
However, there are a few clues indicating that this sequence was never actually broadcast on Polish television.
As several accounts noted in comments on these tweets, the names of the countries are written without Polish diacritics (glyphs added to letters that indicate a different pronunciation like Ł, Ó, Ą, Ę, Ś ou Ć).
So, for example, on the map, Slovakia is labelled SLOWACJA. However, the correct spelling in Polish is SŁOWACJA. Similarly, BIALORUS should be BIAŁORUŚ. These spelling errors make it likely that someone who doesn’t speak Polish made the map.
Different graphics and a presenter from a different channel
The second clue is that the font used on the map as well as the graphics look nothing like the weather maps that you’d usually see on TVP 1.
And the woman seen presenting the weather here is indeed a meteorologist… but for another channel called Trwam. Trwam is based in the Polish city of Torun and is run by a Catholic foundation.
The image that has been circulating online was likely created by photo shopping a weather forecast broadcast on Trwam in March 2020 that you can watch on YouTube, as reported by Polish media outlet Wirtualnemedia. The presenter is wearing the same dress and nail polish in this clip. It seems like the image was just flipped.
In an article published on January 18, 2023, TVP indicated that the image of the weather report that has been circulating online is false.
“A graphic like that was never on TVP and the Telewizja Polska logo was simply stuck on,” the article says. The channel says that this image was likely created in order to “convince the Russian public of theories propagated by Moscow.”
Fake TV report
Recently, there’s also been another image falsely attributed to the same Polish TV channel circulating online.
The image shows a report appearing on a TV screen. The report is about the “creation of an LGBT paramilitary unit” within the Polish Army, according to this post in English, which garnered more than 350 likes.
The video features several sequences of Polish soldiers marching. Once again, you can see the TVP 1 logo. This time, it is both on the bottom left and the upper right of the screen.
The video was shared in both French and Polish, as well.
The France 24 Observers team did not find where this footage was first broadcast. However, the Polish public broadcaster said that the report had been created and its logo added, along with a false banner.
Russian propaganda reacts to news that Poland is sending tanks to Ukraine
Russian propaganda often targets Poland. In an interview in the Polish newspaper PAP from January 18, 2023, Stanislaw Zaryn, Secretary of State at the Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland, spoke about this rampant disinformation.
He said that one of the Kremlin’s disinformation campaigns was aimed at “frightening people with the idea of Poland entering into the war and the possible consequences.”
In the same article, Zaryn also said that Russia is trying to undermine Poland’s image by presenting the country wrongly as an opportunistic state aiming to take some of the Ukrainian territory.
The aim, Zaryn says, is to psychologically prepare the Russian public for a long-term war and new waves of mobilization and to increase the investment of Russian troops in the war on Ukraine.
While this propaganda isn’t new, it looks like some recent news caused Russians to double down on it.
“The news that Leopard tanks had been transferred from Poland to Ukraine [...] prompted a strong response by Russian propaganda,” Zaryn wrote on January 13, 2023 on Twitter.
On January 11, 2023, during a meeting with the Ukrainian and Lithuanian presidents, Polish president Andrzej Duda promised to provide German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine and to create an “international coalition” to aid this transfer.