Conspiracy theories aimed at Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky have been circulating on social media since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. One recent example, falsely attributed to a “Pentagon official,” is the unfounded claim that Zelensky is the cousin of billionaire philanthropist George Soros.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, 44, and Hungarian-American philanthropist George Soros, 91, are not cousins. But an unsubstantiated claim that they are cousins has been spreading on social media.
A Twitter account using the handle @ASBmilitari posted the claim on April 5, saying: “BREAKING: Volodymyr Zelensky is a cousin of George Soros. Pentagon official says.”
The account was created on March 26, shortly after an account with the handle @ASBmilitary — which had almost 200,000 followers and claimed to be the “#1 Source of Breaking Military News” about Russia and others — was suspended after it spread a conspiracy theory about bioweapons labs in Ukraine. We’ve addressed similar claims before.
The claim about Zelensky and Soros was quickly repeated by other Twitter accounts and migrated as a screenshot meme to Facebook.
None of the accounts that have posted the claim have offered supporting evidence. Instead, they attribute the claim to an unnamed “Pentagon official.”
But no Pentagon official has made that statement, a Department of Defense spokesperson confirmed to us by email.
We also reached out to Soros’ philanthropic organization, Open Society Foundations, for comment on the claim. A spokesperson told us by email, “The allegation that George Soros is related to somebody making news, in this case Ukraine’s president, has been the basis for many conspiracy theories in the past. This current one, just like those that came before it, is false.”
Indeed, over the last five years, we’re debunked claims that Soros, a major Democratic donor, has had some kind of familial or personal relationship with Rep. Adam Schiff, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, climate activist Greta Thunberg and Christine Blasey Ford.
This recent unfounded claim about Zelensky is just another one to add to the list.
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.
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