A photograph of Russia’s new defence minister was edited

(updated to add response from Tobias Ellwood in par 11)

Tobias Ellwood, the MP for Bournemouth East, posted a photograph to social media site X, formerly Twitter, which appeared to show new Russian defence minister Andrei Belousov in a military uniform covered with medals.

Mr Ellwood wrote on the evening of Monday May 13: “He’s an economist by trade – and now Russia’s new defence minister. He’s either borrowed the uniform or had a very good first day at the office.”

Mr Ellwood, a former captain in the British Army,  later appeared to have deleted the post.

Evaluation: False

The image has been edited with Mr Belousov’s head added to a photograph of English actor Jason Isaacs playing Field Marshal Zhukov in the 2017 movie The Death Of Stalin.

The facts

The photo manipulation has obvious signs of where it has been edited. The lighting on Mr Belousov’s face is different to the rest of the photo, his neck obscures part of his collar, and he appears to have two overlapping ears on the right-hand side of the image.

One X user claimed they had created the original edit.

The user wrote: “It took me 30 seconds to put his head on Zhukov’s body from the movie in Photoshop. Some appear to think it’s real. Looks like I did too good of a job despite trying to make it obvious.”

The oldest online example of the original picture of Mr Isaacs the PA news agency could find was a Pinterest post with metadata indicating it was published on April 10 2018.

According to media reports, Mr Belousov has no military background.

Gregory Zhukov was a highly decorated military leader during the Second World War and represented the Soviet Union at Germany’s formal surrender in 1945.

Mr Ellwood said: “As you say the photo was of course a manipulated photograph – underscoring the point about a civilian and economist being promoted to defence minister – reflecting how (President Vladimir) Putin is moving the Russian economy to a war footing.”

Links

Tobias Ellwood post on X (archived)

Post on X from potential photo editor (archived)

Pinterest post (archived)

Profile of Andrei Belousov (archived)

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