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Viral News About Russian Man Who Survived in Bear’s Den for a Month Is Actually Fake

If you’ve visited a news site over the last couple of days, you’ve probably read this incredible story of a Russian “mummified” man who was found more dead than alive after being attacked by a brown bear and somehow survived for a month. Well, it case you haven’t already guessed, it’s fake.

The story of Alexander, a Russian man who had allegedly spent a month in a bear cave somewhere in Russia’s emote Republic of Tuva before being discovered by hunters, went viral yesterday, after major UK publications like Mail Online, Metro and The Sun picked it up and pretty much reported it as fact. In their defense, the news did originally appear on Siberian Times, a Russian news website that covers national events in English. They all claimed that the emaciated man who appeared in a very short clip was the unlikely survivor of a gruesome bear attack that had left him paralyzed. He allegedly told reporters that the beast had then dragged him to its den and kept him around as “tin-can” food to be eaten later. Luckily, he was found by hunters who ventured into the bear’s cave after being alerted by their dogs’ barking. The story ends with Alexander recovering on a hospital bed. Now let’s talk about how the story began.

Photo: suetot/Pixabay

Alexander first made headlines in Russia after that very same video went viral for a completely different reason. Originally, whoever created or shared the video on social media used a completely different backstory for it. SochiStream discovered that Alexander started off as a “zombie”, or, more specifically a man who was allegedly found alive in a casket, in a Sochi cemetery. That original video got about 1,000 upvotes on Pikabu, Russia’s version of Reddit.

Here’s where things get interesting. After the administration of the Baranovsky rural district of Sochi denied reports of a “man who rose from the grave”, the video of the same Alexander was reposted, this time portraying him as the survivor of a bear attack. And that was the version that wound up going viral in Western media, after being picked up by gullible journalists.

IT specialist Mikhail Golubev told SochiStream that the video and most likely both its backstories are fake. He admits it’s a well-made video, but claims that the audio portion in which the emaciated man states his name for the camera was undoubtedly added over the video footage.

 

“Whoever did this, shot an eerie video, added a separate audio file to it, and published it on social media”, Golubev said, adding that there are usually three reasons why trolls create such elaborate fakes.

“Why is this being done? There are three likely reasons. First, someone needs to distract people from another more important topic being discussed online. Secondly, some publication may have had a hard time finding interesting stories and decided to make one up, which happens quite a lot.  And finally, it could be that someone was testing the channels of viral information dissemination. Understanding how quickly a certain type of news can reach a significant number of people is important for manipulating the masses,” Golubev said.

Well, whatever the reasons for making Alexander an internet star were, there’s no denying that whoever was behind this fake news reached their goal. Some major news outlets still have this story up as legit.

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