Fact Check: Video Does NOT Show Zelenskyy Cleaning Ukrainian Cemetery With Shovel

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  • Автор: Lead Stories Staff
Fact Check: Video Does NOT Show Zelenskyy Cleaning Ukrainian Cemetery With Shovel Snow Cleaning

Did Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announce a "shovel challenge" and ask people to join him in cleaning a Ukrainian cemetery? No, that's not true: The original video showing Zelenskyy shoveling snow from a city street, posted on his official Facebook account in 2019, has been digitally altered to superimpose his video over scenes from a Ukrainian cemetery.

The claim appeared in a TikTok video (archived here) published by semicvetik123_3 on November 15, 2023, with a caption (translated from Russian to English by Lead Stories staff) that read:

Lord of the End of Ukraine

The audio says (translated from Russian to English by Lead Stories staff):

[Woman's voice]: Zelenskyy called it a shovel challenge and called for people to clean the country on their own.
[Zelenskyy]: We'll do without them. Will clean the country. Please join our challenge, shovel challenge. Go on the streets, we'll clean the country, guys.
[Man's voice]: Why are you talking? Go work. [Laughter]

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2023-11-16 at 10.48.31 AM.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Thu Nov 16 06:26:44 2023 UTC)

Using the phrase "shovel challenge" (Russian: лопата-челлендж) on Google News Index (archived here) of thousands of credible news sites returned the result of a video posted on Facebook that shows Zelenskyy and his team clearing snow next to his electoral headquarters in the center of Kyiv, shortly before he became the president in the summer of 2019. The audiotrack from the video (translated from Russian and Ukrainian to English by Lead Stories staff) says:

[Zelenskyy] Guys and girls! While our big country is covered with snow, our big politicians are having breakfast in Davos. But it's OK, we'll do without them. Will clean the country. We'll start with snow. Please join our shovel challenge. Go on the streets, we'll clean the country, guys.
[Man's voice]: Why are you talking? Go work.
[Laughter]

The audio to the altered TikTok video was taken from a news report on Ukrainian TV channel TCH to create the impression Zelenskyy was talking about a Ukrainian cemetery, not the snow-covered street.

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Lead Stories is a fact checking website that is always looking for the latest false, deceptive or inaccurate stories (or media) making the rounds on the internet.

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