On May 4 2022, Ukrainian journalist Anastasiia Lapatina tweeted about Russian state media purportedly accusing the Ukrainian military of engaging in “black magic”:
Russian state media: “Signs of black magic were found in Ukrainian military headquarters”. A whole new level of idiocy from the Ministry of Truth pic.twitter.com/n8XUIHa6iI
— Anastasiia Lapatina (@lapatina_) May 4, 2022
The screenshot was not in English, but in Russian; Lapatina described the purported claim as a “whole new level of idiocy from the Ministry of Truth” in Russia.
As for the tweet in the screenshot, it was accurately presented. On May 4 2022, @rianru tweeted:
Russian State Media Claimed Ukraine Showed Signs of ‘Black Magic’ UseRussian State Media Claimed Ukraine...
— РИА Новости (@rianru) May 4, 2022
Twitter’s automatic translation of the tweet rendered as follows:
Signs of black magic found at the headquarters of the Ukrainian military […]
The tweet included a video with a spray painted black symbol visible in the clip’s first few seconds. It also showed printed documents and seemingly unrelated objects, such as a child’s painting and discarded wooden crates.
RIA Novosti linked to a May 4 2022 item published on their site (“В штабе украинских военных нашли признаки занятия черной магией,” which Google Translate rendered as “Signs of black magic found at the headquarters of the Ukrainian military”) and the story, translated, began:
Signs of practicing black magic were found at the headquarters of Ukrainian mortarmen on the outskirts of the village of Trekhizbenka: adherents of otherworldly forces tried to “consecrate” the weapon and made marks with blood, RIA Novosti correspondent reports.
Military unit A4472 was based at this headquarters. A satanic seal was found on its wall, evoking associations with Hollywood films about evil spirits.
A highlighted quote from “culturologist Ekaterina Dais” appeared directly thereafter. In the excerpt, Dais purportedly said the graffiti represented a “magical sigil … consisting of many intersecting lines,” and imagery of a “magical seal of the dark forces” including:
- “[T]he inverted sign of anarchy”;
- “part of the ‘SS” sign, the rune zig,” and;
- “the Hebrew letter ‘zain’ written in German, meaning a sword or weapon.”
Dais (alternated spelled “Dyes” and “Dice”) purportedly described “tells” of “black magic” at length in the piece. Among them were the symbol being drawn in a single stroke, and the presence of “blood on the document, although there are no such traces anywhere else.”
We have been unable to find more information about Dais/Dyes/Dice.
However, each of these details references separate aspects of the same antisemitic disinformation campaign — black magic and sorcery, strange sigils, blood libel, and even a diirect reference to a “Hebrew letter.” The base narrative appears to be taken directly from The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, a plagiarized satirical text turned weaponized conspiracy theory from the beginning of the twentieth century that is likely most recognizable to English-speaking audiences in its recent form, QAnon:
QAnon purveys the fantasy that a secret Satan-worshiping cabal is taking over the world. Its members kidnap white children, keep them in secret prisons run by pedophiles, slaughter, and eat them to gain power from the essence in their blood. The cabal held the American Presidency under the Clintons and Obama, nearly took power again in 2016, and lurks in a “Deep State” financed by Jews, including George Soros, and in Jews who control the media. They want to disarm citizens and defund the police. They promote abortion, transgender rights, and homosexuality. They want open borders so brown illegal aliens can invade America and mongrelize the white race.
A May 4 2022 Twitter screenshot shared by Ukrainian journalist Anastasiia Lapatina purportedly depicted Russian state media RIA Novosti reporting that Ukrainian forces employed “black magic” to gain an edge against Russia. The tweet in the screenshot was both authentic and accurately described by Lapatina. Appended “reporting” by the outlet described at length the “evidence” of “black magic” uncovered, citing “culturologist Ekaterina Dais” as the source for the claims.