By: Anurag Baruah
February 2 2023
The tattoo salon in the viral claim is located in Russia, not Ukraine. Its image has been digitally altered to make false claims about tattoo removal.
As the Ukraine-Russia conflict continues, various claims and counter-claims continue to flood social media from both sides of the border. In one such claim going viral these days, a Facebook user shared a screenshot of a tweet on January 14, 2023, claiming that the photo in the tweet shows an outlet in Ukraine that removes swastikas tattoos at half the price.
The photo was uploaded by the Twitter handle @RTSG_Prism_ on January 13, with the post that read: "Going to Europe? We will remove your swastika at half price. Current promotion in a Ukrainian tattoo salon." Translated from Ukrainian, two lines of purported promotional text on the tattoo studio's board appear to make the same offer. The board is mounted on a red brick building beside a white door. "I did predict that tattoo removal would become a good business in the Ukraine," a user named Antony Moore wrote on Facebook while sharing the screenshot of the Twitter post. Various other Facebook users have also shared different versions of the image with similar claims. However, the photo of the tattoo parlor being shared has been digitally altered.
We first located the Twitter post seen in the photo and performed a reverse image search using Yandex. We came across the original photo of the studio, published on a directory website of Biysk, a city in Russia. This photo did not bear the promotion offering a 50 percent discount on swastika tattoo removal. Further, the name of the tattoo parlor was 'TATTOOIROGRAF’ and not what is shown in the viral photo.
A quick web search using the name 'TATTOOIROGRAF' took us to Google Maps, showing that the place is listed as a tattoo parlor in Ulitsa Sovetskaya, 52/1, Biysk, Altai Krai, Russia, 659300. Two images from May 2019 available from the location showed two different people standing in front of the same board on a red brick building that says, 'TATTOOIROGRAF.' The same white door can be seen in the photos as well. Clearly, it is the same tattoo salon as seen in the viral image.
We also located 'TATTOOIROGRAF,' listed as a tattoo parlor in Biysk, on the website of 2gis, a local Russian search company that develops digital maps and guides of cities in Russia. Here too, we found the original unedited version of the viral image in the images section.
This makes it clear that the image used in the viral claim has been digitally altered to add promotional text about swastika removal. Further, the tattoo salon is called Tattooirograf and is in Russia, not Ukraine, as claimed on social media.
The photo of the parlor used to claim that a Ukrainian tattoo parlor is offering swastikas tattoo removal at half the price has been digitally altered. The parlor in question is located in Russia, not Ukraine, and it has not advertised any such discount. Therefore, we mark this claim false.