Mica Soellner is a freelance multimedia journalist who has worked at US and UK publications. She has been published by the Independent, i News, Novara Media, spiked-online and has been featured on BBC radio. Mica is completing her Bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri. She is currently based in Washington D.C. interning at Politifact National. She has language skills in Japanese and German and is interested in labor relations, politics and foreign policy.
Fake news claims two Russian officials dead in plane crash
A fake news story said that two Russian officials linked to an infamous dossier and a Russian nuclear agency were among the victims of a plane crash near Moscow that killed all 71 passengers.
"Russian source behind fake Trump dossier killed in Russian plane crash, Rosatom CFO also dead," read the headline on a Feb. 11, 2018, post on Puppet String News.
The post was flagged on Facebook as being potentially fabricated, as part of the social media website’s efforts to combat fake news.
The fake news story took a real plane crash and made up the names of some of those who died.
Consider the source: Puppet String News describes itself as created by a jaded U.S. Navy veteran who "decided to get into alternative news to tell the truth to best of ability."
We found many things wrong with the post.
The story begins by citing an actual Business Insider story on Belarus-born businessman Sergei Millian as a key source in the Trump-Russia dossier, a 35-page report of opposition research on President Donald Trump, prepared by a former British intelligence officer who was hired by Trump’s Republican and Democratic rivals during the election.
Later, the Puppet String News story suggests Millian actually goes by the name Sergey Panchenko and died in the Russian plane crash.
Sergey Panchenko is listed on the passenger list released by Russian authorities, but Panchenko is a different person than Millian. The article also refers to Millian as being Russian, but he’s Belarusian. The name "Sergei Millian" is not listed at all in the list of passengers who were boarded on the plane. The story offered an unsourced photo of passengers' names who were on the aircraft with Panchenko highlighted.
Also killed off in this story is Ivanov Vyacheslav, who is credited with being the CFO of nuclear energy corporation Rosatom, the company at the center of the Uranium One deal. That deal involved the sale of a Canadian company with mining interests in the United States to Russia’s nuclear energy agency.
Vyacheslav did hold the CFO position at Rosatom until 2017, according to his LinkedIn profile. According to the company website, the current CFO is Nikolay Soloman.
This Ivanov Vyacheslav was not on the plane, but a different man by the name was. The man killed in the plane crash was born in 1986, Snopes reported, whereas the former Rosatom CFO began studying for his degree in 1987.
A fake news site said that two Russian officials had died in a plane crash. While the list of victims contained names that matched those of the two officials, they were not the same people.
We rate this statement Pants on Fire.
Published on February 14, 2018 by Politifact National