Amid an ongoing attack on Ukraine by Russian forces, Imgur posts on March 6 and March 7 2022 purportedly showed photographs of a crowded railway station in Kharkiv, Ukraine, illustrating residents’ attempts to flee to safety:
In second of the two posts, a then-recent tweet by author Ian Bremmer was featured:
ukrainians desperate to get out of kharkiv pic.twitter.com/8bu0QW0PYJ
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) March 7, 2022
Reverse image searches using TinEye returned only the Imgur posts embedded above, with no information about the sources of the images. A Google Lens search primarily returned tweets featuring the image, with one of the sources attributing the image to Instagram user @syvokon on March 6 2022.
That post was captioned:
our new reality….💔🇺🇦
#z #ukraine🇺🇦 #ukrainewar #stopwar #stopwarinukraine #stopputin #neveragain #nowar #russia #zelenskiy #volodymyrzelensky #prayforukraine #standwithukraine #madonna #nato
A Sky News liveblog included the image in an embedded tweet, with a short blurb entitled “Hundreds gather at Kharkiv train station to flee Russian attacks”:
Sky News has verified the below photograph shows hundreds of people at the Kharkiv-Pasazhyrskyi railway station on Sunday [March 6 2022].
People were attempting to flee Ukraine’s second-largest city, which has been hit by relentless shelling during the invasion, which began 12 days ago.
Since the image was shared on social media, Russia’s defence military said it had opened a humanitarian corridor from Kharkiv to allow people to escape warfare.
This is from the city in northeast Ukraine to Belgorod in Russia.
At 6:47 PM EST (several hours after the Instagram post appeared), the verified news account @nexta_tv shared the image, captioned “Photo of the #Kharkiv railway station”:
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) March 6, 2022
Kharkov railway station. People are trying to leave the city by railway transport. Photo from our subscriber.
Reporting from Italy’s la Repubblica on March 6 2022 described crowded train stations in cities in Ukraine, specifically Kyiv:
Everything starts shoulder to shoulder in the station towards any train, no one knows where it will go but the important thing is to get on. Run, push, press. The funnel of the door, when it opens, is too narrow to allow thousands of people to pass, who pour onto the tracks as soon as they hear an oncoming convoy rattle.
Every morning, when the curfew ends, the Kiev station becomes a bedlam. Many have been there since the previous day, but new waves of fleeing souls are pouring into the empty streets of the capital and trying to somehow reach the platforms, braving the air raid alarm and the long lines at the checkpoints. With many bridges torn down, if you live on the other side of the Dnipro River it takes four hours to cross. But the fear that the Russians will do in Kiev what they did in Kharkiv or Mariupol leads to every risk.
At the station, the billboard tells lies. The normal trains are gone, they are all special trains. Someone is loaded with potatoes, onions and boxes of food, and soldiers in camouflage are loading and unloading. The information office is closed. Men under 60 cannot leave the country, soldiers constantly scream that the priority is for women and children. The crowd is divided between those who place themselves on an empty platform waiting for the first train and hoping it will not go East, and those who wait from above to intercept the oncoming train and run at breakneck speed to the platform.
The trains arrive very slowly, when they stop the crowd is already crowded. Nobody knows exactly where the door will open, and if you are far away you have no hope.
On March 6 2022, an image of a crowded Kharkiv railway station circulated across social media. The image appeared to originate with an individual social media user, possibly on Instagram on that date. Contemporaneous news reports from European outlets reported chaotic crowded scenes each morning at train stations in Kyiv and Kharkiv, where Ukrainians attempted to board trains to Lviv in western Ukraine.