Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has appeared in several recent videos that show he has remained in the country since Russia invaded on Feb. 24. But a post circulating on Facebook falsely claims he fled and recorded a video using a green screen to make it appear as though he’s still in Ukraine. There’s no evidence to support the claim. A digital forensics expert told us that nothing in the video indicates it was filmed using a green screen.
An image available on Google Maps shows the vantage point from which the recent video was shot.
But a clip of the video has been circulating on Facebook with this false claim: “The cowardly Ukrainian President Zelenskiy fled Kiev abandoning his people [and] broadcasts Presidential videos with a green screen background from the safety of a NATO bunker in Poland.”
In the early days of the war, Russian state media began pushing disinformation alleging that Zelensky had fled Ukraine, but those claims have been widely debunked. In the weeks since, Zelensky has been shown in video footage in his Kyiv office almost daily. Most recently, on March 21, he made an appeal via video to Germany from that office.
The Facebook page that posted the claim, called “I Love Australia,” didn’t offer any evidence to support its allegation, and it didn’t respond to our message seeking comment. The page changed its name on March 13, according to transparency information listed on Facebook. Before that, it had been called “Aussie Cossack,” which is an apparent reference an ethnic group with ties to Russia, and the page still lists its affiliated YouTube channel as the “Aussie Cossack,” which has posted several videos supportive of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian occupation of Ukraine.
We also asked Hany Farid, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who specializes in digital forensics, to look at the video and assess whether it may have been recorded using a green screen.
“I see no evidence that the video is filmed against a green screen,” he told us by email. “The lighting on Zelensky’s face and body are consistent with the environmental lighting, and at the beginning of the video we can see his cast shadow on the street, which would not have had the same appearance if this was a green screen.”
So, this appears to be another example of false information about the war. See a list of other claims we’ve debunked here.
Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.
Zelensky, Volodymyr (@zelenskiy_official). “переговори про мир і безпеку для України – це єдиний шанс для Росії зменшити шкоду від власних помилок. Настав час зустрічатися. Час говорити. Настав час відновлювати територіальну цілісність і справедливість для України. Інакше втрати Росії будуть такими, що вам не вистачить і кількох поколінь, щоб піднятися.” Instagram. 18 Mar 2022.
Pancake, John. “Festooned With Fantasy, Kiev’s House of Chimeras survived the Soviet era.” Wall Street Journal. 3 Apr 2010.
Miranda, Carolina. “Why it matters that Zelensky stood before a building by ‘the Gaudi of Ukraine’ on social media.” Los Angeles Times. 28 Feb 2022.
Zelensky, Volodymyr (@zelenskiy_official). “Не вірте фейкам.” Instagram. 26 Feb 2022.
Google Maps. Gorodetsky House. Accessed 21 Mar 2022.
Bergengruen, Vera. “How Putin Is Losing at His Own Disinformation Game in Ukraine.” Time. 25 Feb 2022.
Dejaifve, Aude. “A pre-recorded video? The pro-Russian hoax suggesting that Volodymyr Zelensky has left Ukraine.” France 24 — The Observers. 14 Mar 2022.
European Digital Media Observatory. “The five disinformation narratives about the war in Ukraine.” 11 Mar 2022.
CBC News. “Zelensky posts video from Kyiv office, debunks rumours he’s ‘hiding.’” YouTube. 8 Mar 2022.
Kennedy, Niamh. “Zelensky appeals to Germany to help save Kyiv.” CNN. 21 Mar 2022.
Farid, Hany. Professor, University of California, Berkeley. Email to FactCheck.org. 21 Mar 2022.