The complaint, filed by a citizens' group known as the Permanent Open Committee of Media Monitoring, revolves around a photo accompanying a recent news segment airing on ZDF about alleged Russian military presence in eastern Ukraine.
The segment, which described the alleged movement of Russian tanks and missile systems into eastern Ukraine, featured a photo with the caption "Russian armored vehicles moved through Isvarino in the Lugansk region, February 12, 2015," citing "Ukrainian army spokesman Andrei Lysenko in Kiev." The only problem is that the image in question was actually taken several years earlier, in 2009, and in South Ossetia, not Ukraine.
In their complaint to ZDF, one of Germany's largest broadcasters, the Open Committee notes that "it would be interesting to know why such an image, which has nothing to do with the news in question, is being repeated, meant as it is to convince a third party of the truthfulness of assumptions about an "invasion by [Russian] armor."
Maren Mueller, one of the founders of the Open Committee and a former media worker herself, believes that much of German coverage of events in eastern Ukraine is tainted by distortions, half-truths and outright lies. Mueller says that "the coverage of events in Ukraine by the media has reached the height of fantasy, and is not worth taking seriously." She notes that the tank story is just one example of the kinds of distortions that regularly occur. Recently, German media watchers forced an ARD correspondent to retract his words on the deaths of two civilians in Krasnoarmeysk, after the latter had erroneously claimed that the deaths were caused by "the bullets of the new rulers," meaning the anti-Kiev rebels. The channel has since been forced to issue an apology over the mistake.
Ms. Mueller believes that among the biggest problems of the German media's coverage of events is the "dangerous closeness" between the media's line and that of the description of the conflict being provided in the government.