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Geolocation Case Study: Social Media Content

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Method Showcase: Social media post with text description and Distinctive visual Features

Severodonetsk Vocational College of Culture. Moderate to Heavy Damage.

This piece is the first in a series showcasing geolocations of civilian infrastructure damage using a variety of methods. In this case, the distinctive interior of the building and context provided in the source material allowed analysts to reduce the pool of possible locations and confirm or deny a match to each visually. This sort of “top down” approach is most effective when an investigation is well underway and analysts have access to a roster of likely targets, and when the source material references key details (often in text or VoiceOver) that eliminate a large number of possibilities on such a roster.

Due to developments in the course of the conflict, we feel that exposing the locations of these strikes no longer poses a risk to the facilities involved.

Context and Sourcing 

UDVL analysts located a video on Twitter claiming to show the damaged interior of a “music school” in Severodonetsk. The video was traced back to a pro-Russian Twitter page called “IntelRepublic,” which itself pulled from the IntelRepublic Telegram channel, where the video was posted first on 18 June 2022. No captions or other information provided precise data about the school’s location or the time and date of the damage. 

Confirming and Assessing Damage

Damage is clearly visible in all frames of the video. Prominent examples include rubble on the floors, broken skylights on the roof, and shattered glass visible scattered throughout the building atrium’s interior. The video is filmed entirely in this glass-roofed atrium, so it is not possible to make assessments of damage to the building’s exterior or to other wings of the school. It is, however, apparent that this part of the building is largely still standing, and while the broken glass roof panels imply that parts of the building are open to the elements, it does not appear that the entire structure was compromised at the time of the recording. 

While the caption states that the school was damaged by “Ukrainian mines,” further assessment of “Intel Republic’s” content revealed a clear pro-Russian bias. This complicates the assertion that Ukraine is responsible for the destruction. Furthermore, since the video is insufficiently detailed to provide insight into the exact type of munitions used, it cannot be proven that either mines or the Ukrainian military was involved in the building’s damage.

Geolocating the School

Since little identifying information was provided outside of the assertion that the building was a “music school,” analysts began a search for music schools in the Severodonetsk Raion. Using the Ukrainian government’s unified database of schools in the Raion, analysts were quickly able to identify a shortlist of arts-focused schools in the area, one of which goes under the English-translated name “Severodonetsk Vocational College of Culture and Arts named after Sergei Prokofiev.” This school’s official website features a stock photo of what appears to be the same atrium visible in the recording. 

In this image of the school’s homepage, the atrium is visible in the lower right corner. The distinctive red columns, blue walls, rounded stone centerpiece, and even large leafy plants are visible both in this photo and in the video. 
A close up view of the atrium’s identifying features on the school Facebook page.

To further confirm that this was the correct site, analysts visited the school’s Facebook page, where the following video was uploaded on February 17, 2022, shortly prior to the outbreak of conflict:

Here, the red columns, leafy plants, and blue walls are clearly visible in the background. These two separate data points allowed analysts to claim definitively that the video above was taken in the “Severodonetsk Vocational College of Culture and Arts named after Sergei Prokofiev” in Severodonetsk City.


The Severodonetsk Vocational College of Culture and Arts named after Sergei Prokofiev is located at 48.94, 38.48.