One caption reads: “The Zambezi River in Zambia, one of the wonders of the World.”
But does the image show the Zambezi? We checked.
‘People are very easy to deceive’
A Tineye reverse image search reveals that the image started circulating online in Russia in January 2020. Another reverse image search using Yandex, a Russian search engine, established that the image had been widely shared on the Russian social network VK and on other Russian websites.
A machine translation of the Yandex search results led us to a VK post that described the image as the work of a “St Petersburg artist”. The post links to a report by Russian fact-checking website Provereno (“verified” or “checked out”).
“It turns out that this is not a photograph at all,” a translation of the report reads. “The author of the work entitled ‘Pacification’ is the St Petersburg artist Natalia Livitchuk.” St Petersburg is a city in eastern Russia.
“I absolutely do not understand this hype around my work,” Livitchuk told Provereno (again, a machine translation of the Russian).
“I came from the dacha [a rural plot of land], and I wanted to portray my attitude to nature and the universe. Convey a state of peace and tranquillity. I [did] not imagine any particular region ... I depicted the river [that was] at that moment in my soul.
“And this curiosity suggests that people are very easy to deceive.”
AFP Fact Check has also investigated claims about Livitchuk’s painting. She told them, in an email: “The whole composition came from my imagination and I didn't use existing rivers as a source. This river flows from my soul.”
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