Vatnik Soup
Soup number117
Date05.03.2023
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Vatnik’s professionJournalist
Vatnik’s country of originRussia
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Semen Pegov

In today’s #vatnik soup I’ll introduce a Russian blogger, “independent journalist” and propagandist, Semen Pegov. He’s best-known for his work at WarGonzo, a military project associated with the Russian military intelligence service GRU.

1/15
Pegov started his journalism/propagandist career as a TV journalist for the Russian Television and Radio Broadcasting Company in 2006. He was covering the Russo-Georgian War from the invaded Abkhazia, while working for a local TV channel.

2/15
In 2020, he was detained by Belarusian police while covering the protests held by the supporters of presidential candidate and opposition figure Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya in Minsk.He was naturally released soon after, thanks to the intervention of the Russian Foreign Ministry.3/15
In Jan, 2022, Pegov spread fake news on his Telegram channel WarGonzo in which he accused the Ukrainian authorities of arming territorial defense forces & sending them to kill civilians in Donbas. This message was subsequently echoed by the Kremlin-controlled media channels.
4/15
On 18 Feb, 2022, Semen was organizing casus belli for the upcoming Russian invasion, when he published a video of a destroyed car that belonged to one of the leaders, Denis Sinenkov, of the puppet state DPR.

5/15
This car bombing was blamed on the Ukrainian special services, was referred as “preparation for Kyiv’s offensive”, and was used as one of the reasons for the full-scale invasion.

Man, he was so lucky to be nearby when the bombing happened!

6/15
Throughout the summer of 2022, Pegov published a number of staged and fake photos, building up a narrative of Russian military success in Ukraine. In Apr, 2022, he posted pictures of dead Ukrainians soldiers, ...

7/15
...stating that the Russian military had killed “saboteurs from the Azov Regiment”. An investigation revealed that these soldiers were executed with a shot to the head at point-blank range.

8/15
In May, 2022, Semen published a fabricated story and video about the destruction of a 🇺🇦 drone. The video included a section that should’ve been cut out from the final version. In it, the Russian soldiers are waiting for Pegov’s command to start firing an anti-aircraft gun.

9/15
He also published a video allegedly discovering a secret biolab in Mariupol where NATO had conducted research on biological weapons.

This hoax was debunked by StopFake: stopfake.org/uk/fejk-u-mari…

10/15
But there’s more! In Jul, 2022, he suggested on Russian media that the Turkish and the US governments were supplying veteran ISIS soldiers to Ukraine. He also claimed that he had seen an Al-Qaeda flag next to the Azov Regiment’s flags in Mariupol.

11/15
And as is tradition in Russia, Pegov accused the Ukrainian forces of what the Russians had done before. He claimed that the Ukrainian army had used phosphorus munitions, an internationally banned method of warfare: dzen.ru/video/watch/62…
It was actually Russia who used them.12/15
In May, 2022, Pegov was banned from YouTube, but he subsequently moved to other platforms to spread his disinformation. His main channel of communication is Telegram.

In Sep, 2022, he was arrested for, according to WarGonzo, threatening a hotel administrator while drunk.

13/15
Later on he was wounded near Donetsk after stepping on a petal mine. His leg had to be partially amputated.

As you can probably guess, Pegov’s target audience is solely Russian, but many of his staged videos also make rounds on non-Russian propaganda channels.

14/15
Pegov was allegedly awarded secretly with the Medal of the Order “For Merit to the Fatherland” for his propaganda work (or “objective coverage of events”, as the Kremlin called it) during the annexation of Crimea.

He also later received a medal for his lost leg.

15/15