Czech police officer claims to have filmed journalists "staging" migrants drowning, his superiors see nothing wrong with that
Czech Police officer Marek Chrastina of Šumperk, Czech Republic, went to Crete on vacation in July and filmed a video on the beach there which he shared through online social networks. The footage went viral mainly by being re-posted through Czech-language anti-immigrant, disinformation websites.
Chrastina posted that he had allegedly filmed journalists staging the drowning of migrants and that his footage was proof of how the media is manipulating the public about such matters. In reality, the people he filmed were part of a docudrama crew staging a re-enactment of a 1922 fire which Greeks had to flee.
The hoax that was born from Chrastina's vacation has now been investigated by the Czech Police Inspectorate. Its decision is that the behavior of Chrastina (who is a fan of the ultra-nationalist "Freedom and Direct Democracy" or SPD movement) has not damaged the reputation of the Czech Police.
"After assessing all the circumstances of this matter, the investigation was closed with the finding that the officer's behavior has not endangered the good reputation of the Police of the Czech Republic," Olomouc Regional Police spokesperson Jiřina Vybíhalová told news server iROZHLAS.cz. Chrastina's comments posted along with the footage were as follows: "Here you have it, the poor guys... The poor refugees. This is exactly how what they show on television functions. It's worthy of [Nazi propagandist] Goebbels. The director is filming how migrants are drowning in the sea."
Chrastina's footage was also investigated by reporters from Agence France-Presse (AFP) and the German website Correctiv.org, both of which came to the unambiguous conclusion that his description of it did not present the truth. Those investigators tracked down the film's director, Eleni Vlassi, and ascertained that neither she nor her cameraman work for any news agencies.
Vlassi and her cameraman are filmmakers and were preparing a docudrama entitled "Land of the Suffering Virgin Mary". The AFP reporters even provided clips from the docudrama to Chrastina.
The Czech weekly RESPEKT published the information that Chrastina is a member of the police force, and he told them he does not intend to apologize for having posted the footage, adding: "I still see this all a bit differently, you should read what AE News reports about it." He also said he had been advised by AE News - a disinformation server that is pro-Kremlin - not to apologize to the director until after he sees the entire docudrama.
"I'm waiting until I see the documentary. I don't believe anything I haven't seen myself," Chrastina said.
The footage taken by Martin Chrastina on his vacation in Crete:
The trailer for the documentary "Land of the Suffering Virgin Mary", including the footage that Chrastina saw being filmed and misrepresented:
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