Old Italian rally photo falsely shared as ‘anti-war protest’ in Ukraine in Sept 2023

Tommy WANGAFP Hong Kong

A photo of people gathering in a square has been viewed tens of thousands of times alongside a false claim it shows an anti-war protest in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv in September 2023. The photo in fact predates Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine; it was taken in Turin, Italy in November 2018 and shows a rally to support the construction of a controversial train line.

“Anti-war demonstrations of over 100,000 people break out in Ukraine!” reads the simplified Chinese title of a post on content aggregator NetEase on September 10.

“Ukrainians have finally had enough and took to the streets to protest Zelensky’s endless conscription and war,” the article reads.

“On September 7, in the capital Kyiv, more than 100,000 Ukrainians came out to the streets to demand the government sign a peace treaty with Russia to stop the war!”

The accompanying photo appears to show a demonstration in a town square.

The post was shared shortly after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Washington would “maximise” efforts to support Ukraine as it pressed ahead with its counteroffensive against Russia during an unexpected visit to Kyiv on September 6, 2023.

His comments came hours after Ukrainian officials said a Russia-led artillery strike on a market in eastern Ukraine killed over a dozen people, one of the deadliest in weeks.

The photos were also shared alongside a similar false claim on X, formerly Twitter, Chinese social media platforms Weibo and Douyin, as well as news aggregator sites ToutiaoSohuNetEaseTencent and Sina.

However, the picture in fact predates Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, which began in February 2022 — AFP found no credible reports of large-scale anti-war protests in Kyiv as of September 19.

2018 Protest in Italy

A combination of keyword and reverse image searches on Google and TinEye found the original photo was uploaded to photo agency Alamy’s website on November 10, 2018 (archived link).

The photo is captioned: “Turin, Italy-November 10, 2018: People during the demonstration of the Si Tav, citizens in favour of the construction of the TAV demonstration with 40 thousand demonstrators take part on Piazza Castello.”

The Treno Alta Velocita (TAV) is a controversial international high-speed rail project involving the construction of a 57.5 kilometre (36 miles) tunnel across the French and Italian Alps to cut travel time and link the two countries’ train networks.

Supporters say the project — slated for completion in 2032 — is a potential source of growth for the region and northern Italy, but critics say the line is a misuse of public funds and poses environmental risks (archived link).

Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo shared in the false posts (left) and the original photo published on Alamy (right):

Screenshot comparison of the photo shared in the false posts (left) and the original photo published on Alamy (right)

The rally in Turin’s Piazza Castello in support of the TAV project was attended by between 30,000 to 40,000 people, AFP reported on November 10, 2018.

The Piazza Castello and other surrounding landmarks including the Palazzo Madama and the Cancellata di Palazzo Reale correspond to imagery of the location seen on Google Maps (archived links herehere and here).

Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo in the false posts (left) and the corresponding location on Google Street View (right), with similarities marked by AFP:

Screenshot comparison of the photo in the false posts (left) and the corresponding location on Google Street View (right), with similarities marked by AFP



  1. Chinese propaganda is as laughable as russian propaganda. More BS from the “neutral” Chinese, aiding their terrorist buddies.

  2. Chicom turds working for putler.
    Totalitarian regimes know that propaganda works. For the same reason that direct marketing; ie the science of selling shit to people that did not previously want it, works. There are more than enough gullible fools out there. And more than enough arseholes.
    That’s why propagandists and proponents of genocide need to be taken down. In the worse cases, they should have exactly the same fate as Lord Haw-Haw.

  3. Such goofy propaganda can’t get any worse; a wrong protest in a wrong city of a wrong country during a wrong time period. Even Goebbels is laughing his ass off.

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