Video of traffic at the Finnish-Russian border misrepresented
CLAIM: Video shows lines of cars waiting at the Finnish-Russian border after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilization of reservists on Wednesday amid the war in Ukraine.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The video was filmed at the Vaalimaa border crossing point between Russia and Finland on Aug. 29, weeks before Putin announced the partial mobilization of Russian reservists to Ukraine. Finland’s border authority has been monitoring the traffic, and stated on Thursday that the increase of traffic at the Finnish-Russian border has been comparable to typical weekend traffic.
THE FACTS: Following Putin’s announcement, the first such call-up in Russia since World War II, social media users misrepresented a video showing traffic at the Vaalimaa border crossing point in Finland, about a three hour drive from St. Petersburg, Russia.
The original video, which was posted to YouTube and TikTok on Sept. 19, shows a long line of cars at the border crossing point. Social media users then took the clip out of context, falsely claiming that it captured Russians fleeing to Finland.
“#Breaking: just in - The traffic jam at the border with#Russia/#Finland has pilled up to 35KM and is rising by the hour, it is the only border who is still open for Russian civilians with shengen visas, after#Putin announced he will send 300.000 new troops to#Ukraine,” a tweet with more than 2.7 million views falsely claimed.
Igor Parri, the TikTok user who posted the original video confirmed to The Associated Press in an email that he filmed the video on Aug. 29. He sent the AP the original video to verify that he filmed it and noted that the video “was just depicting the quite typical line” at the border.
The Finish border authority on Wednesday publicly responded to the claims circulating widely on social media, noting that traffic conditions at the border remained normal.
“Situation at Finnish Russian border is normal, both at green border and in border traffic,” Matti Pitkäniitty, a senior official with the Finnish border authority wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. “Just talked to our officers in charge. There is normal queuing in border traffic…”
Pitkäniitty then tweeted on Thursday that traffic from Russia was at a “higher level than usual,” but was comparable to weekend traffic.
In a statement to reporters on Thursday, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said that the country was considering ways to reduce Russian transit to Finland, after Putin’s announcement.
Putin’s announcement on Wednesday sparked anti-war demonstrations across the country that resulted in almost 1,200 arrests, the AP reported. Some Russians rushed to buy plane tickets to flee the country.
This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.