Photo of wounded Ukrainian woman near Kharkiv is genuine

4 March 2022
What was claimed

Widely-used images of a Ukrainian woman wounded following an airstrike near Kharkiv actually depict events from 2018.

Our verdict

This is false, the photographs are genuine and were taken at the outset of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Posts being shared on Facebook claim that widely-used images depicting the impact of Russian air strikes on Ukraine residential areas have in fact been faked.  

The posts allege that photographs of an injured Ukrainian woman which featured on several front pages across the world recently, and a damaged apartment block nearby, are actually from 2018 and show the same woman having survived a gas explosion that year.

An image shared in the posts reads: “Not to sound unsympathetic but just wonder why the media is using the same woman in 2018 she survived a gas explosion this year she survived missiles in Ukraine. Do you just use the same picture in news stories? is this not the same woman? [sic]”. 

This isn’t true, and the recent pictures were taken on 24 February this year by photojournalist Wolfgang Schwan, at the outset of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Similar pictures of the same woman were also shared in the media.

The woman in the photographs is teacher Olena Kurilo, who was injured following an air strike on an apartment block in Chuhuiv, in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region. 

There was a gas explosion reported in Magnitogorsk, Russia, at the end of 2018. Although the apartment block in the photographs looks similar to the one from Ukraine this year, they’re not the same building. Spanish fact checkers Maldita have examined the differences between the two buildings in depth. 

We couldn’t find any images of Ms Kurilo connecting her to this incident, and the Facebook posts don’t offer any evidence that any such photographs exist.

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