Metadata reveals that DNR and LNR leaders recorded evacuation announcements two days in advance
The video addresses announcing mass evacuations shared on February 18 by the leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics” were actually recorded on February 16. This was reported by Bellingcat’s training and research director Aric Toler, who verified video metadata from the clips.
Despite what the metadata shows, in one of the announcements the head of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) Denis Pushilin explicitly says “today, February 18.”
Both DNR head Denis Pushilin and Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) head Leonid Pasechnik issued evacuation announcements on the afternoon of Friday, February 18, urging women, children, and the elderly to relocate to Russia. The de facto authorities claimed that rising tensions in eastern Ukraine made the evacuations necessary. In response, the Ukrainian authorities denied any plans to attack the Donbas.
In turn, President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian government to pay 10,000 rubles ($130) to each evacuee arriving from the Donbas. The evacuees are reportedly being sent to Russia’s Rostov region, where the authorities have supposedly set up an operational headquarters to resolve issues related to their accommodation.
Earlier in the day on Friday, a source in the Rostov governor’s office told Znak.com that temporary lodgings will be made available to as many as 15,000 refugees. According to the de facto officials in the Donbas, upwards of 700,000 evacuees will relocate to Russia.