Both the image and the implication were disturbing: a splayed corpse in an open field that Russian state television suggested was that of a civilian killed by Kyiv's forces to intimidate pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Donetsk region.
But the footage of the corpse featured in a May 16 newscast by state-owned broadcaster Rossia-1 appears to be identical to video material aired 18 months earlier in a report on an antiterrorist operation in Russia's restive North Caucasus region.
In its report on fighting between Ukrainian federal forces and militias backing the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic near the city of Slovyansk, Rossia-1 set up the footage of the corpse by saying that "every day peaceful civilians continue to die."
The body is then shown lying on the ground next to a handgun as the voiceover explains that the Ukrainian National Guard killed a man whom the armed separatists did not recognize as their own. The weapon was left at the scene to "send a message that an enemy was killed," Rossia-1 explained.
The report, however, shows what appears to be the exact same footage that its sister channel, Rossia-24, used in a November 18, 2012, report
about a counterterrorist operation in Russia's North Caucasus Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria.
Five militants were killed in that operation, Rossia-24 reported at the time.
In addition to showing what seems to be the same corpse, both the May 16 report from Ukraine and the 2012 report on the Kabardino-Balkaria operation include apparently identical footage of four armed, uniformed men surveying a grassy, fog-swept field.
The same raw footage was posted on YouTube the same day as the 2012 report on the counterterrorist operation, with Russia's National Antiterrorism Committee cited as the source.
In the May 16 report, Rossia-1 also interviewed a masked separatist holding an assault rifle who alleged that Ukrainian commanders operating in the area had executed their own soldiers who refused to obey "antipopular" orders.
Ukrainian and Western officials have accused the Russian media of engaging in naked propaganda to promote the Kremlin's message that the government in Kyiv is illegitimate and is backing "fascists" bent on persecuting ethnic Russians and Ukrainians who oppose its authority.
Last month, a nationally televised documentary in Russia suggested the Ukrainian government was building an internment camp
for those "who speak out" against Ukrainian ultranationalists and for people whom "the current authorities in Kyiv call separatists."
Construction of the facility shown in the documentary, however, was begun in 2012 under then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russia in late February following mass protests in Kyiv and other major Ukrainian cities.
The building is part of an EU-funded project to temporarily house illegal migrants.
-- Carl Schreck