Crucified boy

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"Crucified Boy" (Russian: Распятый мальчик, romanizedRaspyaty malchik) is a reference to an anti-Ukrainian story spread by Russian state-owned Channel One on July 12, 2014.

The story was first published by Eurasianist philosopher Aleksandr Dugin on 9 July 2014.[1][2][3] It was then republished in news reports, officially titled "A refugee from Sloviansk recalls how a young son and a wife of a militiaman were executed in front of her". It contained allegations of a public crucifixion of a three-year-old boy performed by Ukrainian soldiers at "Lenin Square" in Sloviansk, as told by an alleged resident of Sloviansk, Halyna Pyshnyak (Ukrainian: Галина Пишняк, Russian: Галина Пышняк), a native of Zakarpattya. The story has become a staple example of Russian fake news.

The spread of the story served to distract from the Donetsk People's Republic's withdrawal from Sloviansk, and the cross-border shelling of Ukraine by Russian armed forces.


Investigative journalists from the Russian news outlets Novaya Gazeta and TV Rain who visited Sloviansk did not find any supporting evidence to back up the allegations, nor did they find any audio or video footage of the incident which was unusual as actions of the Ukrainian army in the city were well documented at the time.[4] BBC News pointed out that there is no "Lenin Square" in Sloviansk, although there is an "October Revolution Square".[5] An investigation of Pyshnyak determined that her husband was a former Berkut unit member who had joined the separatist unit led by Igor Strelkov.[5]

The incident was later widely used as an example of disinformation or fake news that "became the standard" for modern Russian mass media.[6] In Russian mass culture, the episode – this "good piece of propaganda"[7] – became "synonymous for journalist fakes."[8][9] The spread of the news about the "crucified boy" was later used for statistical analysis of the expansion of fake information in modern social networks and search engines.[10][11]

Galina Timchenko, the former editor of Russian news portal "", said that it was a gross breach of professional ethics by the leading Russian television channels.[12] Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny called Channel One Russia "nuts" for airing the report.[12] Another Russian opposition politician, Boris Nemtsov, stated that it was an attempt to rally naive people behind the idea of a war against Ukraine.[12] Russia Today, which was widely reporting the story on their TV channel and online with headline "Kiev army now literally crucify babies in towns, forces mothers to watch", later deleted the story from their website and denied any previous involvement; however, most copies of their coverage on social media remained in place.[13][14]

The story was officially retracted by Channel One, which was the first to air it, on 21 December 2014, saying they had merely relayed a purported eyewitness report.[15]

A similar story was distributed in April 2021 when Russian media widely reported that a Ukrainian UAV killed a boy in Oleksandrivsk village. Investigative journalists determined that the child had actually died as a result of the explosion of a land mine stored unsafely in a village resident's garage.[16] The UAV narrative was invented by the press service of the Donetsk People's Republic.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Дмитрий Быков (15 July 2014). Зачем ТВ, Александр Дугин и Галина Пышняк распяли мальчика (in Russian).
  2. ^ Мария Епифанова (16 July 2014). И это—не предел?. Novaya Gazeta (in Russian). No. 77.
  3. ^ Snyder, Timothy (12 April 2022). "The sadness of Sloviansk". Thinking about... Retrieved 12 April 2022.
  4. ^ "Факты ICTV | Историю о "распятом мальчике" для Первого канала придумала жена боевика ДНР" [ICTV Facts | The story about the "crucified boy" was invented by the wife of a DPR militant for Channel One]. ФАКТИ (in Russian). 14 July 2014. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Блогеры не верят в историю о казни ребенка в Славянске" [Bloggers do not believe in the story of the execution of a child in Slovyansk]. BBC News Русская служба (in Russian). 14 July 2014. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  6. ^ "The post-truth world: Yes, I'd lie to you". The Economist. 10 September 2016.
  7. ^ Kramer, Andrew E. (26 February 2017). "To Battle Fake News, Ukrainian Show Features Nothing but Lies". The New York Times.
  8. ^ Issers, Oksana S. (2015). "From the serious - to the ridiculous: the game potential of the Russian word of the year" (PDF). Political Linguistics (4): 25–31. ISSN 1999-2629.
  9. ^ Holm, Kerstin (13 February 2017). "Russische Berichterstattung: Europa, hungere!" [Russian reporting: Europe, starve!]. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (in German).
  10. ^ Khaldarova, I.; Pantti, M. (2 October 2016). "Fake News: The narrative battle over the Ukrainian conflict" (PDF). Journalism Practice. 10 (7): 891–901. doi:10.1080/17512786.2016.1163237. hdl:10138/233374. ISSN 1751-2786. S2CID 147693486.
  11. ^ Hryshchuk, R.; Molodetska, K. (2016). "Synergetic Control of Social Networking Services Actors' Interactions". In Szewczyk, R. (ed.). Recent Advances in Systems, Control and Information Technology. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing. Vol. 543. Springer. ISBN 9783319489230.
  12. ^ a b c "Russian TV show - Ukraine child crucifixion". News24. 14 July 2014.
  13. ^ "Russia's top 100 lies about Ukraine". Russia Lies. 26 July 2015. Retrieved 7 November 2019.
  14. ^ "Paul Niland: Participants in propaganda". Kyiv Post. 14 November 2017. Retrieved 7 November 2019.
  15. ^ "Журналисты Первого отвечают на обвинения во лжи в связи с сюжетом про убийство ребенка в Славянске" [Journalists of the First respond to accusations of lying in connection with the plot about the murder of a child in Slovyansk]. 1tv (in Russian). Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  16. ^ Churanova, Olena (5 April 2021). "Fake: A child died in Donbas as a result of a Ukrainian drone attack". StopFake. Retrieved 6 April 2021.

Further reading[edit]


  • Skillen D. The normalisation of lying - Living with the lies // Freedom of Speech in Russia: Politics and Media from Gorbachev to Putin.—Routledge, 2016.—372 p.—(BASEES/Routledge Series on Russian and East European Studies).—ISBN 9781317659884.
  • Van Herpen M. H. The "Hybrid War" in Ukraine: From Misinformation to Disinformation // Putin's Propaganda Machine: Soft Power and Russian Foreign Policy.—Rowman & Littlefield, 2015.—336 p.—ISBN 9781442253629.
  • Snyder T. Learn from peers in other countries // On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century.—Random House, 2017.—128 p.—ISBN 9781473549296.
  • Nalbandov R. Fear and Loathing in Russian Political Culture // Not by Bread Alone: Russian Foreign Policy Under Putin.—University of Nebraska Press, 2016.—648 p.—ISBN 9781612348001.
  • Monshipouri M. Social media Kyivs Euromaidan and demands // Information Politics, Protests, and Human Rights in the Digital Age.—Cambridge University Press, 2016.—326 p.—ISBN 9781107140769.
  • Conradi P. "You do it too" // Who Lost Russia?: How the World Entered a New Cold War.—Oneworld Publications, 2017.—400 p.—ISBN 9781786070425.
  • Ostrovsky A. Epilogue: Aerial Combat // The Invention of Russia: The Journey from Gorbachev's Freedom to Putin's War.—Atlantic Books Ltd, 2015.—400 p.—ISBN 9781782397410.
  • David Satter. A System Under Threat // The Less You Know, The Better You Sleep: Russia's Road to Terror and Dictatorship under Yeltsin and Putin.—Yale University Press, 2016.—224 p.—ISBN 9780300221145.


  • Kinstler L. How to Survive a Russian Hack // The Atlantic.—2017.—2 February.
  • Higgins A. Fake News, Fake Ukrainians: How a Group of Russians Tilted a Dutch Vote // The New York Times.—2017.—16 February.
  • Danilova M. Truth and the Russian media: Unhinged claims about the Malaysia jet are part of a broader propaganda campaign // Columbia Journalism Review (CJR).—2014.—22 July.
  • Eduard Palchys: I Can Switch Over To Belarusian Language Without Any Problems // Charter97.—2017.—6 February.—ISSN 2543-4969.
  • Maheshwari V. Ukraine's fight against fake news goes global: Countering Kremlin disinformation is one area where Kiev has the upper hand // Politico.—2017.—12 March.
  • VanderMey A. W. Ukraine's fight against fake news goes global: Countering Kremlin disinformation is one area where Kiev has the upper hand // The Wilson Quarterly.—2016.—Fall.
  • Putz C. Uzbek Nanny Beheads Child in Moscow // The Diplomat.—2016.—3 March.
  • Frye B. Conflict & Diplomacy: Detoxing Russia // Transitions Online (TOL).—2015.—3 March.—P. 1–3.
  • Nygren G., Glowacki M., Hök J., Kiria I., Orlova D. Journalism in the Crossfire: Media coverage of the war in Ukraine in 2014 // Journalism Studies.—2016.—22 November.—P. 1–20.—ISSN 1461-670X.—DOI:10.1080/1461670X.2016.1251332.

External links[edit]