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Video does not show staging of COVID victims

April 2, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: Video shows performers portraying COVID-19 victims in body bags for a staged news report. 

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The video shows a behind-the-scenes look at the filming of a music video by Russian rapper Husky.

THE FACTS: On March 30, a video circulated widely on Twitter showing what looked like a truck loaded with corpses in body bags. A person in one of the body bags is smoking, while a few other people arrange black bags stacked in the back of a truck. 

“They’re preparing dead Rona bodies for the news. One is still smoking a cigarette,” a Twitter user claimed, implying that the body bags were staged for a news report. The false claim had more than 11,000 retweets and nearly 400,000 views. 

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But the video, which was posted to YouTube in September 2020, was actually taken as part of Husky’s music video for the song “Never Ever.”

Scenes of the body bags in the truck and the surrounding buildings in the false Twitter post, match those in the music video. That part of the music video was filmed outside the Moscow Regional Research and Clinical Institute. 

“A guy works as a janitor and cleans up gang fight scenes. This is a figure for internal struggles of an artist who is cleaning up his mental world,” Evgenii Bakirov, the music video’s director wrote about the video’s theme on Vimeo. The Associated Press reached out to Bakirov for comment but did not hear back. 

A Russian media outlet REN TV also wrote about the filming of the music video last September. In the music video, there’s a scene where mannequins wrapped in black bags are being hauled down a building and being loaded into the truck. According to the media outlet, people passing by were frightened by the mannequins that looked like “corpses” hanging from the hospital roof. 

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536