Ukrainian-Russian War: What does facial recognition software say about the crowd behind Putin?

  • By Jake Horton, Adam Robinson & Paul Myers
  • BBC Reality Check and BBC Monitoring

photo credit, Getty’s image


President Putin gives a televised address on New Year’s Eve.

Social media was awash with claims, echoed across news websites, that Russian President Vladimir Putin surrounded himself with actors for his New Year’s speech and at previous events. But what’s the proof?

We use facial recognition software to verify some of these claims.

The Russian president has a habit of posing at events where some of the attendees are not what they seem.

A 2020 BBC Russia investigation found that some programs presented as impromptu conversations with ordinary people were actually filled with friendly local dignitaries.

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