The self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic is disseminating a fake story claiming that the plague has broken out among Ukraine’s military in the southeastern port city of Mariupol. During his recent briefing, DNR representative Eduard Basurin announced that Mariupol hospitals are filled to capacity with soldiers suffering from tularemia, a “light form of the plague”. The infection is quickly becoming an epidemic and several marines have already died, Basurin claimed.

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This compelling fake was given pride of place by the usual Russian propaganda suspects, REN TV, Komsomolskaya Pravda,, the Defense Ministry television channel Zvezda, RusNext, Channel 5 and others.

Tularemia is most certainly not a light form of the plague, as Mr. Basurin claims, rather it is both an animal and human disease, common among deer and rabbits and characterized by high fever and dehydration. Humans can become infected mainly through tick and deer fly bites.

The plague has most certainly not broken out among Ukraine’s military, Serhiy Zhmurko, press officer for the Mariupol military region dismissed Basurin’s claim a complete fake. Ukraine’s Health Ministry reassures that Ukraine’s southern regions have not experienced any unusual infectious outbreaks.

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Meanwhile social media posts paint a picture completely different from the one Basurin described. “There were a lot of marines in the city today” writes a local resident, and they all looked very healthy”.

Tularemia outbreaks occur periodically in Europe and Asia. In 2013 more than 600 people were infected with tularemia in Russia’s Khanty-Mansi in western Siberia.

Eduard Basurin is a reliable source for some of the most outrageous fakes. Previously he has claimed that Ukrainian soldiers are dying from a mysterious virus, that Ukrainian military were shelling OSCE monitors, that Ukraine was selling chemicals weapons to the Middle East and more.

For a complete list of Basurin’s debunked fakes, visit our website.