Back in September, a video of a Russian woman pouring water mixed with bleach on the crotches of “manspreaders” on the subway went viral. Anna Dovgalyuk, a 20-year-old activist, appeared across news outlets and social media as she fought against what she claimed was a plague of men taking up too much space on subways and busses. In the video, Dovgalyuk would approach men in the act, pour the bottle of the mixture on their lap, then run away.
It has now come to light that the video is a fake, according to The Verge.
Citing a Russian source, The Verge reported that a man who was featured in the video has come forward and claimed to be a paid actor, as were all of the other men involved. Posting from his now-deleted Facebook profile, the man wrote, “They poured water on us. That feeling when you come to the shooting with two spare pants and leave with a salary.” The Russian publication alleges that the Kremlin-associated production studio My Duck’s Vision was involved in making the video. My Duck’s Vision has denied any involvement in producing the viral clip.
Dovgalyuk is no stranger to staging viral pranks, including a recent attempt at drawing attention to “upskirting” by pulling up her dress in several Russian subway stations.
EU vs Disinfo, a website that focuses on exposing Kremlin propaganda, has reported that the Facebook page where the video was originally posted, In the Now, is actually owned by the Russian government. “In The Now successfully brings elements of Russia’s ongoing disinformation campaign to large international audiences. The majority of those who are targeted will not suspect that what they see and share is, in fact, Russian state propaganda,” says the site’s report.
The viral clip had a clear intention and was successful in its effort to fire up anti-feminist sentiments. The Verge found one of the top comments on the video that echoed these sentiments exactly, saying, “This is not a protest, it’s assault. Maybe someone should pour bleach water on her for sticking her breasts out. Same thing.”
Many Russian politicians have come out against the culture of feminism, with lawmaker Vitaly Milonov calling it “insanity from the standpoint of a normal person” and an “absolutely radical point of view,” according to reports from Buzzfeed.
Since the news broke that the video was a fake, it has been scrubbed from the site’s YouTube account, but can still be seen through other online outlets. While everything was staged, it still executed its intention perfectly and stoked very real anger in society.