A pre-recorded video? The pro-Russian hoax suggesting that Volodymyr Zelensky has left Ukraine
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Russian media outlets, including Russia Today, are falsely claiming that the video of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's visit to a Kyiv hospital on March 13 was recorded last month, fuelling speculation that he has fled the country.
Some Russian media, including the Russia Today television channel, which has been inaccessible in the European Union since March 3, have said that the footage of Zelensky's visit to a Kyiv hospital on March 13 was filmed on a previous date. According to them, the video could not have been shot in March because the woman accompanying the president is believed to be Inna Derusova, a military nurse who died on February 26.
"It turns out that the published video of the Ukrainian president's meeting with wounded soldiers on 13 March is a fake. The video was recorded in February, before Inna Derusova's death," RT wrote in a tweet in Russian published on March 13.
It was also picked up by several Russian media outlets, such as this one quoting Illia Kyva, a pro-Russian Ukrainian MP, saying that the video "only reinforces doubts about Zelensky's presence in Kyiv".
Misidentification of the woman accompanying Zelensky
The Ukrainian government press service published several photos of the president's visit to a Kyiv hospital on March 13.
In one of the photos, we can see a blond-haired woman wearing a uniform with a blue armband accompanying the president.
When zooming in on the photo, we noticed that the woman was wearing the insignia of a brigadier general of the Ukrainian army on her uniform.
The name "Ostashchenko" can also be read in Cyrillic script on her uniform. The woman is actually Tatyana Ostashchenko, commander of the Medical Service of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Another photo of Tatyana Ostashchenko was published in July 2021 on the Medical Forces Command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ Facebook account.
However, Inna Derusova, the woman mentioned by RT and other media, actually died in the line of duty on February 26 in Akhtyrka in Ukraine's Sumy region, according to local media. On March 12, she was posthumously named a Hero of Ukraine.
Part of a series of fake claims that Ukrainian authorities have fled the country
This is not the first hoax claiming that Zelensky has fled Ukraine and that a video of the president was pre-recorded.
On February 26, Silvano Trotta, described by the conspiracy watchdog site Conspiracy Watch as "an influential conspiracy video maker from the covido-sceptic movement", shared a screenshot of an article from the pro-Russian website Sputnik claiming that the Ukrainian president had left the capital for Lviv in the west of the country.
On the same day, Zelensky filmed himself in front of the House of Chimeras in Kyiv to prove that he had not left his country.