Channel 5 spreads Russian disinfo with fake report on ‘fake’ deaths in Ukraine

Royal Thai Army Channel 5 hosts Teera Tanyapaibul and Kanok Ratwongsakul. The source of their disinformation, inset.
Royal Thai Army Channel 5 hosts Teera Tanyapaibul and Kanok Ratwongsakul. The source of their disinformation, inset.

Two hosts on an army-owned TV station falsely claimed that Ukrainian people “faked casualties” in a report that misrepresented footage from a climate change protest in Austria. 

The erroneous report by hosts Kanok Ratwongsakul and Teera Tanyapaibul came earlier this week in an episode of their Lao Khao Khon program on the Royal Thai Army’s Channel 5.

“Watch this footage, there’re corpses lying there, we believe they are Ukrainian people … Do you see those bodies in the bags? Some bodies are still moving,” said Kanok, a reporter known for his far-right stance and history of distorted reporting.

“The floor’s hot, maybe,” Teera said.

The footage being shown had nothing to do with Ukraine, where a weeklong Russian invasion is resulting in increasing numbers of civilian dead.

Rather, it showed protesters in the Austrian capital of Vienna at a rally to raise awareness about climate change. The protesters covered themselves with body bags to depict the deaths caused by the environmental crisis.

The clip and false caption has been shared across social media, from Facebook and WhatsApp to Douyin, the Chinese TikTok.

It was shared on Facebook in Thai on Monday night by an account with few friends that only posts pro-Russian memes. The post remained up Friday morning, despite Facebook recently trumpeting that it had removed accounts and pages spreading disinfomation about Russian’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Whether the hosts knowingly posted the false information or were gullible patsies who did not bother to do any reporting to verify the video was unclear, but Kanok has a history of airing falsehoods aligned with his partisan positions.

In the past, he aired obviously faked video he presented as progressive political candidate Thanathorn Juangroonruangkit conspiring with establishment boogeyman Thaksin Shinawatra just before the 2019 election. In 2014, he took a break from reporting after his penis pics spread across the internet.

He used the footage to strike a defensive tone about Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

“This is fake news, people. Like they are trying to show that yeah, Russia is so brutal. Russia has bombed them for 4-5 days and people died,” Kanok said in the televised news program.

Kanok and Teera’s false and misleading reporting was called out by Thai Journalist Association board member and former Khaosod English reporter Teeranai Charuvastra, who demanded media associations including the National Press Council and Thai Broadcast Journalists Association take action against the hosts.

“The actions of the two presenters were a serious breach of media ethics,” Teeranai wrote on Facebook last night. “Their reporting did not verify the information … This creates fake news and distorts information during the ongoing war, and sets a very bad example for the media industry.”

Thailand enjoys warm economic and military ties with Russia.

While Bangkok has not joined neighboring governments in Singapore and Indonesia in denouncing the invasion — Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha says it will be “neutral” — its U.N. representative this week joined 140 other nations in voting to condemn the invasion.

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