The video circulating on social media has been edited — a running line claiming that a large fire in Spain was allegedly caused by Ukrainian refugees was deliberately added on the screen. In reality, the running line reported on the driver, arrested for assaulting a passenger and driving under the influence.
Social media users and some Russian mass media are spreading fakes claiming that Ukrainian refugees destroyed 31 hectares of forest in Spain while trying to burn the Russian flag. This was allegedly announced on the Spanish TV channel RTVE. An excerpt of RTVE’s video report on mass fires in Samora is presented as proof of the fire, with a running line that reads: “The fire started because of Ukrainian refugees burning the Russian flag on camera.” This information is not included in the RTVE correspondent’s report.
StopFake managed to find the original video — it is a news story about fires in Zamora province on the Spanish public RTVE television channel from June 22, 2022. The story covers the vast forest fires that have been raging for several weeks in Spain in the provinces of Burgos, Zamora and Ávila. The RTVE correspondent also reports that some of the fires could have been intentional arson. A segment of this story was published on the RTVE’s YouTube channel. The video was published without a running ticker tape line, but the story itself does not mention Ukrainians possibly causing the fires in Spain.
In the “Archives” section of the RTVE website a full version of the video can be found. It includes the running line shown on the screen at the time of broadcasting. StopFake reviewed the original video and found that the clip circulating online had been edited. The message about Ukrainian refugees allegedly starting a fire in the forest by burning the Russian flag was purposely added to the running line, with the intention of discrediting Ukrainians seeking asylum in Spain due to Russian aggression.
In reality, the running line in the original video (from 26:40) is about a driver being arrested for violence against a passenger and driving under the influence of drugs (“Detienen a un conductor de vtc por abusar de una pasajera en Madrid mientras conducía drogado” — reads the original running line).
Spanish media report that 95% of forest fires are caused by human activity, mostly attributed to carelessness. Recent high temperatures (over 40 degrees Celsius) also contribute to the spread of flames. The investigation also found that some of the fires in the region showed signs of arson. Nevertheless, the RTVE television and radio company website, as well as other Spanish media, have never featured reports about Ukrainian refugees possibly being involved in the Spanish fires.
In its “story”, the Russian propagandist Federal News Agency mentioned the case of Ukrainian refugees burning down the house of a German family while also allegedly trying to set the Russian flag on fire. However, this “story” also turned out to be disinformation — read more about it in the StopFake article “Fake: Ukrainian refugees burned down a German house while trying to burn the Russian flag.