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False claims Ukrainian refugees are banned from shops, kicked out of hotels spread online

People on social media have been widely circulating two photos and a video that they claim show Ukrainian refugees being kicked out of hotels, in one case, and banned from shops in another, allegedly because of poor behavior.
People on social media have been widely circulating two photos and a video that they claim show Ukrainian refugees being kicked out of hotels, in one case, and banned from shops in another, allegedly because of poor behavior. © Observers

According to some online, shops in Prague and elsewhere in the Czech Republic have refused entry to Ukrainians – the posts even include photos of the shops as so-called proof. But, in reality, those shops have denied the claims and the media outlet that first shared the images now says they made a mistake. Social media users have also shared a video they say shows Ukrainians being kicked out of hotels in Bulgaria. In reality, however, this video shows refugees being moved to new housing. 

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  • Two photos have been circulating online that show shops in the Czech Republic with posters hung up banning entry to Ukrainians. However, the owners of these shops say that they never hung up these posters. The media outlet that first published them now says that they made a mistake and that the image was likely edited.
  • A video has been circulating online that some claim shows Ukrainian refugees being kicked out of hotels in Bulgaria. In reality, the refugees weren’t kicked out, they were just being moved to different accommodations. 

The Czech businesses that supposedly barred entry to Ukrainians

Social media users have been sharing two photos that they say show two shops in Prague with posters hung up saying that Ukrainians are not allowed to set foot on their premises.

The photos were published on May 26 on "Intel Slava Z", a pro-Russian Telegram channel, where they garnered more than 127,000 views. 

"The shopkeepers and owners say that they’ve had enough of theft and terrible behaviour from refugees,” says the author of the post. 

This is a screengrab of the May 26 post on Telegram that claimed to show Czech businesses barring entry to Ukrainians.
This is a screengrab of the May 26 post on Telegram that claimed to show Czech businesses barring entry to Ukrainians. © Observers

The photos were also posted on Twitter the same day, in Czech and Spanish and in English. They also circulated on Facebook on May 26.

The photos were first shared by the English-language Czech publication Prague Morning on its Twitter account on May 26, in a post that has since been deleted. 

Several Czech media outlets visited the two shops featured in the photo, Punčocháče Karlín and Inside. Both are located in northern Prague. Neither one had the poster hung up.  

Screengrab of the article in Prague Morning, featuring the photos of posters supposedly hung up inside two shops (archive from the Czech news site iDNES).
Screengrab of the article in Prague Morning, featuring the photos of posters supposedly hung up inside two shops (archive from the Czech news site iDNES). © iDNES

The owners of both Inside and Punčocháče Karlín told the Czech television channel Seznam that they had never hung up the poster in question and never banned Ukrainians.

Abdel Fattah Salah, the owner of the shop Punčocháče Karlín told the Czech newspaper Aktualne: "I have lots of friends from Ukraine and Russia. I’m not interested in politics at all. The photo has 100% been photoshopped. I come from Palestine, so I know what war means. I lost lots of friends and family members. I couldn’t possibly be against Ukraine, it’s a disaster.”

Lenka Vrzalová, a shopkeeper and mother of the owner of the other shop featured in the photos, Inside, said that the shop had never displayed a poster like this.

The media outlet Prague Morning published an apology on Twitter on May 26: "We are sorry. We received the pics this morning on Facebook from one of our readers, saying he took them yesterday afternoon and we trusted him. Our mistake."

The FRANCE 24 Observers team also contacted the newspaper:

"We received these photos from a person on Facebook. We checked his profile and it looked legitimate (English man living in Prague, real pictures, 700 to 800 friends, etc.). After a few hours, discovering the pictures were not real, we saw he deleted his profile."

Ukrainian refugees allegedly kicked out of Bulgarian hotels

Another false claim has also been circulating online: that Ukrainian refugees were kicked out of a hotel in Bulgaria. Social media users have been sharing a video that shows Ukrainian refugees waiting in the street, with their suitcases set on the ground nearby and children playing.

Some accounts claimed that the refugees had been kicked out for bad behaviour, like this Twitter post from May 27.

The photos were also shared on Twitter on May 26 by a pro-Russian account. In this video, which has garnered more than 30,000 views, the author comments ironically, “EU LOVE IS OVER”. 

The screengrab of a Twitter post from May 26 says that Ukrainian refugees were kicked out of hotels in Bulgaria.
The screengrab of a Twitter post from May 26 says that Ukrainian refugees were kicked out of hotels in Bulgaria. © Observers

However, if you search Google with the words "Ukrainian refugees”, “Bulgaria” and “hotels” in Bulgarian, then you’ll pull up this news article from May 31 published by Unian, a Bulgarian media outlet. 

The article explains that Ukrainian refugees, who had been housed in tourist hotels along the Black Sea, were being moved to temporary centres with the start of the tourist season. This is only for those refugees who have not secured other housing since their arrival in Bulgaria. 

The Bulgarian press agency BTA reported that since May 31, the government has been working to rehouse refugees in temporary shelters in the Sarafovo neighbourhood on the Black Sea and in Elhovo, two towns located in southeastern Bulgaria. Housing refugees in hotels was always a temporary measure, according to the deputy prime minister for good governance, Kalina Konstantinova.

The media outlet Unian published a video of refugees on May 28 on its Telegram channel, along with an announcement from Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Oleg Nikolenko, who said that Ukrainian refugees in Bulgaria were beginning to be relocated.

"With the start of the tourist season, the Bulgarian government has decided to move the Ukrainians housed in hotels on the Black Sea to other locations. Our citizens will still be able to live for free in dormitories, centres and other specially equipped sites,” Nikolenko said to the Ukrainian media outlet UNN

In summary, the video in question doesn’t show refugees being deported, it actually shows them being moved to different accommodations.