FACT CHECK: Did RT Article Claim Pilot of Prigozhin's Plane Had Post-Vaccine Heart Attack Leading to Fatal Crash?

The fake screenshot appears to have been created digitally manipulating an authentic screenshot of a genuine RT article.

Amid heightened speculation surrounding the circumstances of the plane crash on Wednesday, which is believed to have killed Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, social media users came up with a new claim citing an article that the pilot of the plane had contracted vaccine-related myocarditis and likely died of heart attack leading to the fatal crash.

On Thursday, a day after the crash, several social media users started circulating a screenshot of an article attributed to RT, Russia's state-controlled news network. This article suggested that the pilot had vaccine-caused myocarditis and may have died of a heart attack. The claim is completely false as there is no such proof so far.

Misleading Claim

Prigozhin fake
A screenshot of the fake RT article that claims Prigozhin's pilot had heart attack due to Covid vaccine Twitter

The headline of the article read, "Prigozhin pilot had post-vaccine myocarditis, heart attack may be cause of crash." However, only a small portion of the article, with the logo of RT, was visible in the screenshot, and it didn't provide any additional information beyond the headline.

The claim was completely false, as the screenshot, it turns out, was not real. There was no such article that appeared on RT, and no trace of it was found in searches of RT's website or its archived pages.

BBC reporter Shayan Sardarizadeh revealed that the screenshot was fabricated and was initially shared as a joke.

The claim and the post were a multi-layered joke. It smartly capitalized on the ongoing speculation that Prigozhin's plane was deliberately targeted by Putin.

It also exploited the well-known fact that RT (formerly Russia Today) is under state control and often shifts blame elsewhere.

Yevgeny Prigozhin
The aircraft seen burning that was believed to have been carrying Yevgeny Prigozhin Twitter

Moreover, it tapped into a specific type of conspiracy theory related to Covid-19 wherein unexpected deaths are attributed to the use of mRNA-based vaccines, sparking an alleged unacknowledged "epidemic" of myocarditis and heart attack fatalities globally.

Fake Post Created Digitally

The Wagner Group, under the leadership of Prigozhin, was a Russian mercenary group that remained loyal to Putin's government until Prigozhin orchestrated an unsuccessful coup against the Kremlin in June 2023.

Yevgeny Prigozhin
Yevgeny Prigozhin has leveled accusations against Russia, claiming that his war camps in Ukraine were bombed. Twitter

Following the failure of the mutiny, Prigozhin had been relatively absent from public view until the day his plane crashed.

The fake screenshot appears to have been created digitally manipulating an authentic screenshot of a genuine RT article. This article initially featured an identical photo and certain overlapping content:

Prigozhin original
The original RT article which was digitally altered to make the false claim Twitter

Following the news of the plane crash on Thursday afternoon, there has been intense speculation about the cause of the incident and the suspected masterminds behind the targeting of Prigozhin.

Among the theories circulating on Russian social media platforms is the suggestion that a bomb might have been planted on Prigozhin's plane, potentially hidden within a case of wine, VChK-OGPU Telegram channel, associated with Russian security services, reported.

According to VChK-OGPU, there are claims that a valuable gift in the form of an expensive wine crate was loaded onto the aircraft at the very last moment, and there are ongoing investigations into the possibility that this crate could have contained a bomb.

Related topics : Fake news