10 episodes

What's fake, what's real? Stories from the information war over Ukraine. BBC disinformation reporter Marianna Spring speaks to people caught up in the battle for the truth.

War on Truth BBC Radio 4

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.6 • 16 Ratings

What's fake, what's real? Stories from the information war over Ukraine. BBC disinformation reporter Marianna Spring speaks to people caught up in the battle for the truth.

    Roddy: 'We don’t trust the media – so we became it'

    Roddy: 'We don’t trust the media – so we became it'

    Citizen journalism – reporting by self-taught people, often on the ground – can play a vital role in the coverage of conflict. However, not everyone who contributes to this coverage is as 'independent' as they’d like their followers to believe.

    Roddy’s distrust of the media led him to start his own podcast. He also follows self-styled citizen journalists who are roaming around inside Ukraine.
    In this episode of War On Truth, the BBC’s specialist disinformation reporter Marianna Spring investigates some of their work. She speaks with an expert who has analysed some of their coverage, tries to understand how it gets made, what might be influencing it – and why it spreads to people like Roddy.

    Producer: Joseph Martin
    Editor: Ant Adeane

    • 16 min
    Tetyana: ‘My son is the Snake Island hero’

    Tetyana: ‘My son is the Snake Island hero’

    On the first day of the war, Ukraine gained a new patriotic hero and Tetyana thought she had lost a son. But the story wasn't quite as it first seemed.

    Tetyana’s son, Roman became world famous for defiantly swearing at a Russian warship which had threatened to bomb him and his fellow border guards on Snake Island, if they didn’t surrender.

    A recording of the exchange went viral and the Ukrainian government declared that Roman and his comrades had died as national heroes.

    Tetyana was plunged into grief as her son was celebrated as a symbol of national resistance.

    But, as she recounts, events soon took an unexpected turn.

    The ramifications of what actually happened at Snake Island have become a battleground in the information war that is being fought over Ukraine, alongside the military battle. And like the conflict on the ground, this fight also has real consequences for the people whose lives it touches.

    In this podcast series, BBC disinformation reporter Marianna Spring investigates stories from Ukraine, Russia, and around the world, and hears from those caught up in the battle for the truth.

    Producers: Ant Adeane and Joseph Martin

    • 15 min
    Sergei: ‘It’s my duty to keep telling Russians the truth’

    Sergei: ‘It’s my duty to keep telling Russians the truth’

    After Russia’s first independent radio station was taken off air by the Kremlin, the journalists who worked there are finding ways to get round censorship of the war in Ukraine.

    Sergei Buntman helped to found Echo of Moscow which for more than three decades provided an alternative to the news on Russian state media.

    In the days following the invasion of Ukraine, his radio station and several other news organisations were forced to shut down for challenging the official narrative about the war.

    Yet despite threats of violence and imprisonment, Sergei and some of his fellow Russian journalists are refusing to stay silent, and are finding new ways to make themselves heard.

    They find themselves on the frontline of the information war that is being fought over Ukraine, alongside the military battle. And like the conflict on the ground, this fight also has real consequences for the people whose lives it touches.

    Russia’s military assault has been accompanied by an onslaught of disinformation and propaganda from state media, trolls and influencers. With all sides seeking to capture and control the narrative, how do you tell what is fake and what is real?

    In this podcast series, BBC disinformation reporter Marianna Spring investigates stories from Ukraine, Russia, and around the world, and hears from those caught up in the battle for the truth.

    Producer: Ant Adeane

    Editor: Ed Main

    • 21 min
    Marianna Part 2: The view from the other side

    Marianna Part 2: The view from the other side

    Marianna Vishegirskaya is the pregnant woman who has unwittingly found herself at the centre of one of the most disputed events of the war.

    In a previous episode we looked at how Russia falsely accused her of helping fake photos of the aftermath of its attack on a maternity hospital, in which at least three people were killed.

    But now Marianna has told her side of the story, after escaping the besieged city of Mariupol with her husband and newborn baby.

    Her interview, given to a pro-Kremlin journalist, flatly contradicts much of what Russia has said up to now. But some of her comments have been cherry picked to promote a new version of events which also absolves Russia of any blame.

    Despite all the contradictions in the propaganda, Marianna’s Russian friend Yaroslava still believes Russian state media rather than the woman she knows personally.

    It’s a sign of the power of the information war being fought over Ukraine alongside the military battle. And like the conflict on the ground, this fight also has real consequences for the people whose lives it touches.

    Russia’s military assault has been accompanied by an onslaught of disinformation and propaganda from state media, trolls and influencers. With all sides seeking to capture and control the narrative, how do you tell what is fake and what is real?

    In this podcast series, BBC disinformation reporter Marianna Spring investigates stories from Ukraine, Russia, and around the world, and hears from those caught up in the battle for the truth.

    Producer: Joseph Martin

    Editor: Ed Main

    • 18 min
    Rob: ‘Covid was a hoax, and so is the war’

    Rob: ‘Covid was a hoax, and so is the war’

    What does the invasion of Ukraine have in common with the coronavirus pandemic?

    On the face of it not much at all, but disinformation about the war is also fuelling existing conspiracy movements around the world.

    Covid denialists who claimed the pandemic was invented by a shadowy elite to impose a tyrannical global government, now believe that the conflict in Ukraine is part of the same evil plot.

    It’s a bizarre offshoot of the extraordinary information war that’s being fought over Ukraine, in parallel to the military campaign on the ground.

    So how and why are these baseless conspiracy theories taking root?

    In this podcast series, BBC disinformation reporter Marianna Spring investigates stories from Ukraine, Russia, and around the world, and hears from those caught up in the battle over the truth.

    Producer: Ant Adeane

    Editor: Ed Main

    • 17 min
    Marianna: one baby, three photos, and a web of lies

    Marianna: one baby, three photos, and a web of lies

    When Russia bombed a maternity hospital in Mariupol, it claimed that a wounded pregnant woman was faking it. Her friends told us something different.

    Images of Marianna Vyshemirska fleeing the aftermath of the attack caused an outcry around the world. But they were also seized upon for a furious disinformation campaign, waged by people including Russian diplomats, that sought to justify the bombing.

    But we’ve found clear evidence that the Russian story is false, and that the pregnant woman who was bombed was targeted again online - by pro-Russian trolls.

    Marianna’s friends say she’s become a pawn in the information war over Ukraine that is raging alongside the military battle. And like the conflict on the ground, this fight also has real consequences for the people whose lives it touches.

    In this podcast series, BBC disinformation reporter Marianna Spring investigates stories from Ukraine, Russia, and around the world, and hears from those caught up in the battle for the truth.

    Producer: Marco Silva

    Editor: Ed Main

    • 19 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
16 Ratings

16 Ratings

DomCrap ,

First episode is very powerful and well done.

Looking forward to listening to more of these. The fight over controlling the narrative is very real. The US is in the middle of a similar battle, but state sponsored propaganda that are outright lies takes it to another level.

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