Russian propaganda has long been trying to discredit the legally elected, democratic authorities in Kyiv. On 25 February, 2022, during a meeting of the Security Council, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed Ukrainians with the following words:
“It seems that it will be easier for us to reach an agreement with you than with this gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis in Kyiv who have taken the entire Ukrainian nation hostage.”
In support of his statement, the Kremlin has unleashed an army of Internet trolls who, through video manipulations, are trying to spread Putin’s false narrative that Volodymyr Zelenskyy is a cocaine addict among Ukrainians and the Western world. In this article we present two of the most famous recent examples.
Meeting with Elon Musk
On 6 March, Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke with Elon Musk. He thanked him for the Starlink installations and invited him to Ukraine. A month later, a fragment of the video from this meeting was used as material for manipulation. There was white powder added on the desk, suggesting it was drugs. Below we compare the edited video (left side) with the original (right side).
Photo and charger on the president’s desk
On 16 April, the President of Ukraine posted a video on his Instagram account with greetings to Ukrainians. Due to poor quality, it has once again become a material for manipulation.
A pro-Kremlin, Polish-speaking troll suggested not only that there were drugs on Zelenskyy’s desk, but also that the original recording had disappeared from the Internet.
The same recording appeared on a Chinese YouTube account. The video was shared with the following description:
On 16 April, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy published a video showing himself in a trance. The recording was soon deleted, but was downloaded by attentive Internet users who found drugs on the table!
The video, which has been viewed over 11,000 times, also highlights an object in the background.
Meanwhile, as can be seen in the original recording, which is still available on the account of the President of Ukraine, the object in the background is a phone charger. The stronger white line is a reflection of the metal frame with a photo of Zelenskyy’s family, and the two weaker lines are table decorations.
The two parallel decorations are also visible in other shots of the table.
Russian propaganda tries anything to discredit Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The Kremlin uses a wide range of disinformation, from specialised deepfakes to primitive manipulations of poor-quality videos.
Putin’s policy of discouraging Ukrainians from the authorities in Kyiv turned out to be a failure. This was shown by a study conducted on 26-27 February, 2022 by the Rating agency. The survey was completed by approximately 2,000 adult Ukrainians from all over the country except Crimea and the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, which have been occupied by Russia. The results showed that 91 percent Ukrainians support President Zelenskyy’s actions. What is even more important, since December 2021, support for the actions of the President of Ukraine has tripled.
Elliot Higgins: https://twitter.com/EliotHiggins/status/1517892718021816320
The Telegraph: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X17yrEV5sl4