Leaders of the self-declared republics in eastern Ukraine posted videos online on Friday announcing that they were organizing the mass evacuation of civilians to Russia.
But a CNN analysis of the videos’ metadata indicates the footage was recorded days earlier.
Denis Pushilin, leader of the breakaway Donetsk state in eastern Ukraine, said on his video appeal that "today, Feb. 18, a mass centralized evacuation of the population to the Russian Federation has been organized.” Shortly afterwards, Leonid Pasechnik, the most senior official in the Luhansk People's Republic, announced a similar move.
In his video, Pushilin also claimed that a large-scale offensive by Ukrainian forces against the Donetsk People's Republic was imminent, a claim the Ukrainian authorities have strenuously denied.
CNN downloaded the videos from Telegram and checked their metadata.
Both video files have "Wednesday 16" as their creation date, meaning that they were recorded at least two days before they were posted on Telegram.
The platform preserves metadata for the videos posted there and it cannot be changed.
CNN is reaching out to the self-declared republics for an explanation.