Fake footage of Russian forces fighting in Syria, which President Vladimir Putin showed to American filmmaker Oliver Stone, came from the country's top military generals.
The clip reached the president via Russia's General Staff, two unnamed sources told Russia's RBC newspaper. The RBC report contradicts statements from the Kremlin, which claimed on Thursday that the footage had come from the Defense Ministry.
Unnamed officials told RBC that the presidential administration had approached Igor Konashenkov, head of Defense Ministry communications, to gather information for the president. Konashenkov in turn approached Sergei Rudskoy, chief of the main operational department (GOU) for Russia's General Staff.
"Any information relating to our forces while in combat — whether that's video, photos or reports — goes straight to the GOU offices," a source in the Defense Ministry told RBC. "From there, information goes through an approval process and is given to high-ranking officials and occasionally the press office.”
Rudskoy tasked one of his deputies with gathering the details, before passing the information back to the Defense Ministry.
Putin showed the footage in question during an interview with U.S. director Oliver Stone. The Russian president told Stone that the clip depicted a Russian airstrike in Syria. The interview was subsequently included in Stone's four-part documentary "The Putin Interviews," which was released last week.
Then, on Wednesday, Internet activists accused Putin of using a fake video in an attempt to showcase Russia's military might. However, researchers found that the video had in fact been taken by U.S. forces operating in Afghanistan in 2013.
Stone has so far dismissed the controversy, describing the mix-up as insignificant.