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War in Ukraine. Antonia Zakharova, “chief doctor of the Wagner Group” has been captured? No evidence

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The chief doctor of a group of Russian mercenaries, responsible for the torture of Ukrainians, was captured in Ukraine – so say some Internet users and show photos of the woman and her victims to confirm it. However, the analysis of these photographs and other information casts doubt on the veracity of such reports.

In recent days, information has been gaining popularity in the Polish network that “the chief physician of the Wagner Group, Antonina Zakharova, was captured in Ukraine”. In most social media posts, not only in Poland, the same phrase is added: “Remember the photos of people tortured by having their crowns and teeth pulled out? It was her job.”

The authors add an identical combination of photos to the entries of this content: one shows a woman in a military uniform aiming a pistol, and the other shows a censored corpse and traces of blood in a room. These photographs, together with the entry about the capture of the doctor, circulated in Polish Twitter, Facebook and portal demotivators. On one of the popular Twitter accounts, which has already shared false information about the war in Ukraine in the past, the post was viewed more than 130,000 times. times; almost 3,000 people liked it. users. The post was shared by Sławomir Potapowicz, Deputy Chairman of the Council of Warsaw, and Radosław Sikorski, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and currently MEP.

An entry from an anonymous account was shared, among others, by politiciansTwitter

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The Wagner Group is a private paramilitary mercenary company with ties to the Russian authorities. Its members took part in Russian military operations in the Central African Republic, Libya, Mali, Syria, and since 2014 also in Crimea and Donbas. Therefore, the information about the alleged detention of a mercenary doctor, allegedly responsible for the torture of Ukrainians, met with a lively reaction from Internet users, who insulted the woman in comments, often vulgar, or enjoyed her arrest. “Now let them do to her what the devil did to the Ukrainians”; “You have to show the feral tribes the world of civilization. To The Hague with her”; “If this is true, it should be treated similarly” – wrote the commentators (original spelling of all entries).

Entries were published in different languages ​​on different websitesTwitter, Demotivators

However, after analyzing the published information and photos, it can be concluded that the reports about the detention of Antonina Zacharowa – a doctor of the Wagner Group – are untrue.

No information and photo from Thailand

Just searching for the phrase “Antonina Zakharova Wagner” in Google and Yandex search engines does not yield any results that would suggest that the woman with this name is indeed a mercenary doctor. The only results in Polish, English and Russian that link Antonia Zakharova to the Wagner Group are identically worded, mass-copied entries about her capture in Ukraine and responsibility for torture.

On the English-language internet, this information gained the most popularity in two places: Twitter and Reddit. The most popular entries in both services had the same content as those distributed in the Polish network. However, the authors of both posts have already withdrawn from the information they provided. “I have removed this post because the picture attached to it is misleading. I got it from a long-standing source that has never failed, but now I suspect [fotografię] chosen for shock effect, not accuracy. The censored photo is from Thailand. I’m so sorry everyone.” he wrote Twitter user. “We don’t know anything about the arrest, but the picture shown is not from Ukraine and has nothing to do with the conflict (it’s from Thailand)” – explained while on Reddit, where the information has already been marked as “misleading”.

That’s right: the blurry photo of the corpse is from Thailand. It shows the effects kindergarten attackwhich took place on October 6, 2022 in the city of Nong Bua Lamphu in the north of the country. A former police officer opened fire, killing 38 people, including 22 children. Photos from the interior of the kindergarten after the attack, including the one used in the entries about the Wagner Group doctor, were published by the Thai media.

A woman with a name that starts with “H”

Also finding the original photo of the woman undermines the veracity of the information provided in the entry. It was taken in March 2018 and shows a participant in the contest of beauty and professional skills of women military personnel “Beauty of the Airborne Troops” organized in Ryazan near Moscow. In relationship According to the competition published on the website of the Russian Ministry of Defense, women officers and sergeants from the communications units, the military band and the medical support units of the airborne troops competed in seven categories, including “weapon power”, “cooking duel” and “prom queen”. .

In the photos of the woman who is now known as Antonina Zakharova, available online, you can see that the first letter of her surname sewn on the uniform is not “Z”, but “H”.

In the original photo, the first letter of her name is visible on the woman’s uniformmil.ru

All these elements suggest that the story about the detention of Antonina Zacharowa – a doctor of the Wagner Group – is not true. No credible sources have confirmed these reports, and the photos used to illustrate this event were taken under different circumstances. One does not show a woman named Zakharova, and the other is not related to Ukrainians tortured by pulling out tooth crowns.

Doubts about the removal of tooth crowns

The very story about the Russians pulling out tooth crowns as part of torture, too has been undermined by a German journalist from the newspaper “Blid”. A photo of a box full of gold dental crowns, which allegedly belonged to captured Ukrainians, was published on October 4, 2022 by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense. “Torture room in Piska-Radki. Two photos. A gas mask that was put on the victim’s head, which was covered with a smoldering rag and buried alive. And a box with gold dental crowns. A mini Auschwitz. How many [takich miejsc] will be found in occupied Ukraine?” the ministry wrote.

The case was covered by a number of Polish and world media behind the Ministry of Defense, but two days after the publication of these photos, the German daily “Bild” published the results of her reporter Paul Ronzheimer’s investigation. In his material, he does not deny the tortures that may have occurred in Piski-Ridkiwski, but he undermines the claim that the box with gold tooth crowns is proof of it. Ronzheimer met 60-year-old Sergei in the village, who introduces himself as the local dentist. During the conversation with the journalist, the Ukrainian showed that he had a lot of similar torn gold crowns and assured that they did not come from the dead, but from his former patients. After these reports, the head of the investigation department of the Kharkiv Oblast police, Sergei Bolvinov, announced that the version presented by the dentist will be investigated, among other things. for DNA material left on the crowns.

It is true, however, that numerous torture chambers have been discovered in eastern Ukraine liberated from Russian occupation. The Russians were supposed to detain and torture civilians there. The torture chambers and the crimes of the Russians are documented by both the Ukrainian authorities and journalists, e.g. Associated Press (AP), “The Washington Post” and Deutsche Welle. In early October, Bolvinov said that his investigators had found 22 places in the Kharkiv region where the Russians tortured prisoners.

Main photo source: Pavel Nemecek/CTK/PAP

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