#BBCtrending: Rotting West?

Image copyright VKontakte
Image caption The caption reads: "Newly-built state-of-the-art car wash. Kalmar, Sweden"

Fake photos of the apparently grim reality of life in the West have been making Russians laugh online. But there's more to these pictures than meets the eye.

A user called "Anna from Moscow" has had a runaway hit with a page of joke photos she's hosted on the Russian social media platform VKontakte (think Facebook, but in Cyrillic). The photos, which claim to depict the bleak shabbiness of Parisian art gallery box offices, Swedish car washes and US playgrounds and the contrasting impressiveness of Russian society, have attracted more than 50,000 likes.

The title of the page - "Rotting West" or "Загнивающий Запад" - is a term borrowed from old anti-West USSR propaganda and is a clue to the ironic nature of the posts: they're sending up Russian propaganda.

This is Russia laughing at itself.

Or is it?

Image copyright VKontakte
Image caption The caption reads: "Children's swings in Central Park. New York City , US"
Image copyright VKontakte
Image caption The caption reads: "The Louvre box office. Paris, France."
Image copyright VKontakte
Image caption The caption reads: "New affordable housing scheme has sprung up. Pretzel-On-Don, Volgograd region, Russia"
Image copyright VKontakte
Image caption The caption reads: "Fire Engine uses subway line for early response. Cologne, Germany"

When BBC Trending called Anna from Moscow it was a man who answered the phone. In Ukraine.

Yaroslav, and Igor, both students in Ukraine, have set up this page using an account with the name "Anna in Moscow".

Is this actually propaganda after all then - not Russian propaganda, but pro-Western Ukranian propaganda?

Image copyright VKontakte
Image caption "Ice-rink prepping ahead of the ice hockey World Championship Games. Toronto, Canada"

"No," says Yaroslav. "It's not propaganda. We don't hate the Russian people. We hate just the politics of Russia."

The pair claim to understand "the Russian soul" and although the page is liked by a large number of Ukranians they insist they're amusing a wider audience: "Russians, Ukranians, Belarussians who haven't been zombied by Russian media," Yaroslav says.

"Some Russians think that this is what Toronto is like but most people know it's ironic and that it's Russia."

Reporting: India Rakusen, Ruth Alexander and Natasha Touzovskaya

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