Old clip misrepresented as showing Vladimir Putin backing Kenyan tax protests

As Kenya continued to grapple with youth-led anti-government protests, a clip emerged online claiming to show Russian President Vladimir Putin backing the protests. But the video is old and has been shared out of context, while its audio track also deliberately mistranslates what the president said. The footage is actually from last year's annual Victory Day parade in Moscow, where Putin, speaking in Russian, accused Western countries of Russophobia.

The video has been shared more than 300 times on TikTok since it was posted on June 23, 2024.

<span>Screenshot showing the false claim, taken on July 3, 2024 </span>
Screenshot showing the false claim, taken on July 3, 2024

It shows Putin delivering a speech at a podium, flanked by security guards.

“Support from Russia #rejectfinancebill,” reads a text overlay.

The clip features an audio track that purportedly translates what Putin is saying: “Currently, the economy in many countries is not good but I would like to talk about one country in Africa, specifically East Africa, called Kenya. There have been demonstrations about rejecting this year’s Finance Bill and guess who are leading the demonstrations – Gen Z. I am very proud of the youths in that country because they have unity and one voice and as Russia, we only congratulate the brave (sic).”

The voice continues: “I know it does not concern me but I support them and will offer to help them on anything they need while demonstrating. Get a spokesman and contact me via the Russian embassy, whatever you need, or to deal with the harassment from the authorities.”

Kenya protests

Young Gen-Z Kenyans launched protests in May against a controversial finance bill that contained a raft of new taxes (archived here).

On July 2, police fired tear gas and charged at stone-throwing demonstrators in Nairobi and across Kenya in the most widespread unrest since the demonstrations started.

Kenyan President William Ruto has been caught between the demands of lenders such as the World Bank to cut deficits, and an agitated population reeling from the rising cost of living.

However, the video circulating on social media does not show Putin addressing Kenyan protesters.

Altered clip

Through a reverse image search on a screenshot from the footage, we found the original clip on the YouTube channel of UK broadcaster Sky News (archived here).

It shows Putin delivering a speech at the Victory Day parade in Moscow on May 9, 2023.

This was more than a year before the protests in Kenya.

WION, an Indian news channel, uploaded a longer version of the 2023 Victory Day speech on its YouTube channel (archived here).

The clip circulating on social media was miscaptioned and its audio track deliberately mistranslated.

An English translation of the speech is available on the Kremlin’s website (archived here).

In the speech, Putin focused on Russia's military capabilities and historical significance, with no mention of Kenya. He highlighted Russia's achievements and commemorated the country's victory in World War II.

Putin also said in his speech that Russians were united in a "sacred" battle with the West over Ukraine, and accused the West of Russophobia.

The Russian embassy in Kenya distanced Putin from the clip saying that “fake voice-over and captions were added over a real footage of a past address” (archived here).

On May 9 every year, Russia celebrates Victory Day, putting on a large parade in honour of the country's victory over Nazi Germany.