Fact Check: Video Does NOT Show Ukrainian Soldiers 'Staging A Mutiny' Against Ukraine's President


  • Автор: Lead Stories Staff
Fact Check: Video Does NOT Show Ukrainian Soldiers 'Staging A Mutiny' Against Ukraine's President Manipulated

Does a video in which Ukrainian soldiers insult and accuse Volodymyr Zelenskyy show them "staging a mutiny" against the Ukrainian President? No, that's not true: Lead Stories found that this video, first appeared on social media in June 2022, shows prisoners of war captured by the Russian army in the Ukrainian town of Lyman, in 2022. They appear to be forced to read a prepared text. Also, a portion of the video showing Zelenskyy speaking has been manipulated.

The claim appeared in a video (archived here) on the TikTok account @katerinapirs9 on January 18, 2024. The text overlay on the video, translated from Russian into English by Lead Stories staff, read:

There are people there too.

But the authority there is inhuman. Russia is power.

Watch what the Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers have recorded for Zelenskyy, this scoundrel.

Spread this video. Ukrainian fighters staged a mutiny against Zelenskyy.

They want to live. You, the best (referred to Zelenskyy), take your deputies and go forward... to the front.

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

Screenshot 2024-01-22 at 11.42.04.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Mon Jan 22 11:13:31 2023 UTC)

At the beginning of the TikTok video, President Zelenskyy is heard saying, translated from Ukrainian into English by Lead Stories staff: "If we wanted to fight, we would be on Russian territory. You understand, don't you?". Then, from the 00:11-minute mark to the 01:01-mark, the soldiers, individually filmed, pronounce the following words, one after the other:

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, soldiers and officers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces address you, whom you abandoned to die as cannon fodder. You deceived us with lies, forcing us to carry out criminal orders, to fight against our own people. You buried our homeland with corpses, set our homes on fire, and bombed our schools, hospitals, and churches. You deprived Ukrainians of a peaceful life and abandoned us like animals without food, clothing, and communication. You are a murderer and rapist, a marauder and traitor, a soul-killer and fascist. There is no forgiveness for you. You have ruined our country, and you will be held accountable for it. Russia is not our enemy, you are our enemy.

The first seven seconds of the TikTok video, in which Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks, have been manipulated. The excerpt is taken from a press conference held on July 6, 2023, in Bulgaria, that was published on YouTube (archived here). At the 42:31-minute mark, Zelenskyy says, translated from Ukrainian into English by Lead Stories staff: "If we wanted to fight, we would be on Russian territory." However, he did not add the remark "You understand, don't you?," as is shown in the TikTok video. Instead, he said: "We just want to survive, so we ask for help."

The sentence "You understand, don't you?" is pronounced by the Ukrainian President concerning military aid, at the 42:11-minute mark. He says: "I'm very grateful, and the Prime Minister knows that, I'm very grateful. But this will last five days. You understand that, don't you?". The TikTok video added the second part of the audio, taken out of context, misleading viewers.

A search for the phrase "Ukrainian soldiers staged a mutiny against Zelenskyy" (archived here) conducted by Lead Stories on January 18, 2024, using Google News' index of thousands of credible news sites, did not reveal any factual reports on this claim.

In addition, watching the TikTok video, the impression is that this is a current event. However, a reverse image search (archived here) conducted by Lead Stories on February 2, 2024, shows that the footage first appeared in June 2022 on several social media accounts, for example here (archived here), and was widely circulated. The video now published on TikTok could also be found on several other accounts.

Lead Stories found that the footage shows Ukrainian soldiers captured in a raid in the Ukrainian town of Lyman, in the Donetsk region, in 2022. On May 25, 2022, the pro-Kremlin news website rusvesna.su (archived here) released videos (archived here) depicting the interrogation of Ukrainian soldiers who were captured in Lyman. These videos show some of the soldiers who can also be seen in the TikTok video, giving the impression that they are being forced to repeat predetermined statements. For example, in one of the videos (archived here), one of the soldiers claims to have been taken prisoner in Lyman. During his statement, however, he is interrupted and corrected, and it is suggested that the term "surrendered" be used instead of "captured," showing this was staged.

On May 27, 2022, the pro-Kremlin media (archived here) dnr-news.ru released another video featuring some of the same soldiers who are also in the TikTok video saying they surrendered in Lyman. Subsequently, on May 28, 2022, pro-Kremlin media Komsomolskaya Pravda circulated videos (archived here) in which one of the Ukrainian prisoners expresses his admiration for the conditions in Russian captivity and praises Russian soldiers.

  Lead Stories Staff

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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