Russian news agency RIA Novosti has issued an apology after an image of the recently arrested Russian governor Alexander Khoroshavin in its photo bank was outed as a fake.
The photo supposedly shows the Sakhalin governor handcuffed to his seat onboard a flight to Moscow, where he is being investigated on charges of bribery.
Khoroshavin, who is suspected of having accepted a $5.6 million bribe, looks visibly downtrodden in the photograph.
But microblogging site RIP Novosti — which describes itself as "an anonymous humorous blog" — on Wednesday unmasked the photo as a fake, after unearthing a copy of the original. That photo, which showed a cheerful-looking man identified only as Adil, was first published by Kazakh photojournalism site Voxpopuli in May 2013.
"You can purchase a Photoshopped image of a 'governor in ' at RIA Novosti," read a tweet published Wednesday by the blog, alongside a screenshot of the image.
News agency RIA soon removed the photograph of Khoroshavin, and holding company Rossiya Segodnya (Russia Today) has issued an apology, the Meduza news site reported Wednesday.
"The photo that was published in our photo bank by mistake has been deleted and was not verified. We apologize to our subscribers," a spokeswoman for Rossiya Segodnya was quoted as saying.