Image of new Russian defence minister in military uniform is digitally altered

14 May 2024
What was claimed

An image shows Russia’s new defence minister Andrei Belousov in military uniform.

Our verdict

This photo has been digitally altered. The original image is of the actor Jason Isaacs playing Marshal Georgy Zhukov in the film The Death of Stalin. It has been edited to include Mr Belousov’s face.

A manipulated image of Russia’s new defence minister in military uniform has been circulating on social media and shared by a British MP.

The Kremlin announced on 12 May that Andrei Belousov, an economist, had been nominated by President Vladimir Putin to replace long-serving defence minister Sergei Shoigu.

Since that announcement, an image has been shared, often satirically, on social media—including on Facebook and X (formerly Twitter)—with claims it shows Mr Belousov wearing a military outfit adorned with medals.

The picture was also shared by a former UK defence minister, Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood, in a now-deleted post on X with the caption: “This is ‘General’ Andrey Belousov – he’s an economist by trade – and now Russia’s new Defence Minister.

“He’s either borrowed the uniform or had a very good first day at the office…”

However, the image has been digitally altered, with Mr Belousov’s head superimposed onto an image of an actor from the film The Death of Stalin.

The original photograph is of English actor Jason Isaacs, who portrayed Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgy Zhukov in the 2017 film, and a photo of Mr Belousov has been edited into the image.

Full Fact has contacted Mr Ellwood for comment. The MP told The Telegraph that his sharing of the image was “tongue in cheek”.

Mr Belousov has previously held a number of different roles in the Russian government and in 2020 he was appointed first deputy prime minister of Russia.

However, as the captions on many of the posts sharing the image highlight, he has no experience in the military or the security services.

Full Fact has written many times about altered images, often created as satire, which can result in the spread of misinformation, including a picture that falsely claimed to prove Princess Diana was alive and an edited photo showing a ‘flat’ Earth.

You can find out more by using our guides to verifying images and videos online.

Image courtesy of W. Bulach

Full Fact fights bad information

Bad information ruins lives. It promotes hate, damages people’s health, and hurts democracy. You deserve better.