Debunked

Five fact-checks about the war in Ukraine

These five false claims about the war in Ukraine were verified by FRANCE 24's Observers team in 2022.
These five false claims about the war in Ukraine were verified by FRANCE 24's Observers team in 2022. © Observers

Russia's invasion of Ukraine this year kept our fact-checkers very busy. We wrote 92 articles debunking false claims about information related to the war. These ranged from claims the Bucha massacre was staged to false TV reports and accusations of Nazism among Ukrainians. To mark the end of the year, we made a list of some of our top fact-checks about Ukraine.

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Fresh round of fake videos claim the Bucha massacre was staged

On April 3, the bodies of civilians were discovered in Bucha, a town in the Kyiv region that had been occupied by the Russian army since February 27. Though Russia denies its involvement in these deaths, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has called it a "genocide" and the United Nations has launched several investigations into possible war crimes. 

Since the discovery, pro-Russian accounts on Twitter have been circulating several images, which they say prove that the bodies in Bucha are either fake or that the massacre was staged by Ukraine.  

One video that has been circulating shows plastic mannequins, another shows Ukrainian soldiers moving bodies and a third shows a Ukrainian woman who purportedly played the role of a dead person in Bucha. 

Our team uncovered the origin of these images. They were all taken out of context – none actually provide proof that the massacre in Bucha was faked. 

You can read our fact-check here.

How a fake Russian TV report covered up a protest in Kherson

On March 7, Vesti 92, the Sevastopol branch of the television channel VGTRK, published a report about food distribution in southern Ukraine. According to the article accompanying the video, "Crimean soldiers delivered more than 140 tonnes of basic aid to the Kherson region". 

But the footage and sound in this video, which was shot on March 4, were carefully selected and manipulated to obscure what really happened at this food distribution site.

Three videos taken by locals at the same time show that Kherson residents had gathered several metres from the distribution site to protest the Russian army's occupation of their city.

You can read our fact-check here.

Three claims accuse Volodymyr Zelensky of being addicted to cocaine

In April, people have shared at least three videos purporting to show Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky either using cocaine or making incoherent remarks after allegedly consuming drugs. But these videos were cut misleadingly and sometimes even digitally manipulated.

These accusations against the Ukrainian president are nothing new: During Ukraine's presidential election in 2019, his opponents accused him of being addicted to cocaine. Zelensky went as far as to take a live drug test on social media.

Supporters of outgoing president Petro Poroshenko, who was defeated in the election, challenged the results of Zelensky's drug test and then mocked him in a campaign clip.

Claims of drug use have emerged again in relation to Zelensky, this time via misleading videos shared online with captions in French and English. 

You can read our fact-check here.

Three videos accusing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky have been circulating on social media, but all of them are misleading.
Three videos accusing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky have been circulating on social media, but all of them are misleading. © Observers

 

No, these people with Nazi tattoos are not Ukrainian refugees

A hoax targeted Ukrainian refugees in July 2022. Two men covered in Nazi tattoos, wearing beach shorts, were presented as Ukrainian refugees in Croatia by pro-Russian Twitter accounts. In reality, the images show Hungarian members of a neo-Nazi group.

You can read our fact-check here.

How we debunked reports of anti-Zelensky graffiti in a Paris suburb

Did graffiti depicting the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as a black hole “absorbing European money” really appear on the streets of a Paris suburb? That’s what a photo that was circulating on social media since November 29 seemed to show. However, our team found no trace of this graffiti at the actual site. Our forensic analysis of the photo shows signs that it was digitally altered. We also consulted some street art experts, who pointed out some inconsistencies in the art.

You can read our fact-check here.

There are a few clues in this image that helped us debunk the story that graffiti depicting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had appeared in the Paris suburb of Saint-Mandé. This photo has been circulating online since November 29.
There are a few clues in this image that helped us debunk the story that graffiti depicting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had appeared in the Paris suburb of Saint-Mandé. This photo has been circulating online since November 29. © Observers