Altered Photo Featuring Zelenskyy, Charles Michel and Ursula Von Der Leyen Disseminated On Facebook

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Reading Time: 2 minutes


On May 16, 2023, a Russian-language Facebook account published a photo depicting the current President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. The picture shows the leaders shaking hands in front of a female statue with three arms and male genitals. The photo is accompanied with the following description: “European values in one photo.”

The photo featuring Zelenskyy, Charles Michel and Ursula Von Der Leyen disseminated on Facebook is altered. In the authentic version of the photo, the above-mentioned persons were photographed on the background of the flags of Ukraine and the European Union.

During the 24th EU-Ukraine Summit in Kyiv on February 3, 2023, Zelenskyy hosted European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. The photo depicts the same meeting.

During the meeting, Zelenskyy thanked the leader for the support provided by the EU to Ukraine and denoted Ukraine’s progress in completing the implementation of seven recommendations of the European Commission of the status of candidate for accession to the EU. The President of Ukraine also thanked Michel and von der Leyen for arriving in Kyiv despite the ongoing full-scale aggression of Russia. 

Volodymyr Zelenskyy: “And despite the sounds of the siren, I want to thank you for not being afraid of these sounds and for being on the side of good together with us in this war.”

Source: Official Website of the President of Ukraine

As for the statue shown in the altered version of the picture, it is an outdoor art actually located in the Hague, Netherlands. The art under the name “And Life is Over There” was created in 2017 and belongs to the Dutch artist Femmy Otten.

According to the artist, the statue unites the elements of different sexes and art styles. For instance, a small lion-like creature on top of her head resembles an Egyptian Goddess, while the smile around her mouth also evokes associations with classical Greek statues (kouroi). According to the artist, the artwork aims to merge present and past, symbols and reality just as easily as the two sexes do, ultimately embodying freedom of thought.

Photo: Eric de Vries, 2017

Polina Kulish

Myth Detector Laboratory

The article has been written in the framework of Facebook’s fact-checking program. You can read more about the restrictions that Facebook may impose based on this article via this link. You can find information about appealing or editing our assessment via this link.

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