Buzzfeed’s Max Seddon Misinterprets a Russian Soldier’s Instagram Comments
He claims to have uncovered an Instagram account of a Russian soldier operating a Buk missile launch system on the Ukrainian territory.
He quotes the soldier thus:
“Sitting around, working on a Buk, listening to music, basically a good Sunday.”
The context however does not support this translation. The original can be seen on this screenshot (courtesy of Backwoods Sleuth):
Notice two things:
1. The word “буке” (“buke”) starts with a small letter. In fact, the whole sentence is not capitalized. Therefore 2 interpretations of this word are possible - either it means a laptop computer “noutbuk” = “buk” (this not the abbreviation that I would use, I prefer “nout”, but the fact remains that many do use it). Or it could indeed mean Buk-the missile launcher.
2. The word in question is immediately followed by an Android emoji “personal computer”. Just as the word “music” is followed by an emoji meaning “speaker with three sound waves”. Note: you will probably only see them in your browser if you’re on an Android device.
So in the end it’s “we’re working on a laptop” instead of “on a missile launcher”.
The soldier’s comments under some other photos (like his usage of the #бтр = “APC” tag) make clear that his vehicle is an APC. Under one photo he wrote: “my APC[,] [we’re] sitting around doing nothing #excercises2014”.
Unfortunately, this mistranslation has spread like wildfire and after it is inevitably refuted, this faux pas will make it easier for some to dismiss the evidence from social networks about the role of the Russian military in the conflict, and such evidence is, in fact, in abundance.