By: Vivek J
May 25 2023
There is no evidence this tweet was posted by the official account of the Ukrainian defense ministry. The screenshot has been digitally altered.
Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, and misinformation relating to the conflict has circulated on social media platforms since, much of which has been found to be pro-Kremlin propaganda. In the latest instance, a purported screenshot of a Tweet from December 2018 by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry has gone viral across multiple platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Telegram, and TikTok.
The purported screenshot appears to show a still from a video of Zelenskyy dancing naked in a store. The text in the screenshot says “This naked clown called Volodymyr Zelenskyy is dreaming of becoming the president of Ukraine. If this American stooge, who knows nothing about foreign and defence policy, succeeds in his plan, he will destroy our nation with the help of NATO. Don’t vote for this piece of sh*t (sic).”
Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who was previously a comedy actor, won the 2019 Ukrainian presidential election with an overwhelming majority by defeating then-president Petro Poroshenko, who is presently serving as the People’s Deputy of Ukraine. Nonetheless, the viral screenshot appears to be digitally altered and it was not posted by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.
We looked up the official Twitter account of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry and did not find any such posts shared by them. Even the archives of this Twitter account did not contain any such post. We did not find any media outlets reporting about such a tweet by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.
By conducting a reverse image search from the viral screenshot, we came across several age-restricted YouTube videos across multiple channels that had shared clips of an episode of Zelenskyy's comedy show, in which he dances naked in a supermarket. Most of these videos were uploaded in 2022 and some Twitter users have shared the same video ridiculing Zelenskyy in May 2023. BBC journalist Shayan Sardarizadeh has also tweeted that this post was fake.
Upon closely going through the posts shared on the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense Twitter account, we did not find any election-related posts shared in December 2018. Furthermore, a closer look at the screenshot revealed some discrepancies at the top of the video’s frame. Unlike the round edges seen on Twitter videos, there were square edges and some lines extending beyond the frame. This further suggests that the image has been doctored.
There were no such tweets on the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense Twitter account and we did not find any similar archived posts. The screenshot has some irregularities compared to the real screenshots taken from Twitter. Therefore, we conclude that a digitally altered screenshot has been shared to ridicule the Ukrainian president and thus, have marked this claim as false.