Since January 30th, 2023, an anonymous Facebook account Злой Ёжик, as well as other Russian-language accounts (1,2,3) have been circulating a photo of the cover of the German satirical magazine Eulenspiegel. The photo shows two groups of people pulling the Olympic symbol – the five Olympic rings – in opposite directions. In one group, we see men kissing each other, as well as a person with an LGBTQ+ flag, and on the other side, an individual dressed in the colours of the Ukrainian flag, as well as a soldier with the symbol of the Azov Battalion. The cover also features inscriptions stating that this is a new kind of sport and that sport does not exist outside of politics. According to the accompanying description, the cover reflects two leading trends in European politics.
On January 28th, 2023, the account Злой Ёжик also published a photo of the cover of the Polish publication Polityka, showing a sunken submarine in the colours of the Ukrainian flag and with the coat of arms of Ukraine. The cover also shows several dead and dying rats near the boat. The photo also shows an inscription: “Rats cannot get out of every ship alive”. Since January 27th, other Russian-language accounts have also been circulating the photo of the cover (1,2,3,4).
The disseminated magazine covers are fabricated. The latest issues of Eulenspiegel and Polityka feature different covers, while issues with similar visuals cannot be found in the archives either.
Eulenspiegel is a German satirical magazine whose issues are published once a month on the last Thursday of the month. The first issue of 2023 was published on December 21st, 2022 and featured Jan Vermeer’s damaged painting “The Milkmaid.” The second issue was published on January 25th, 2023, featuring the German Minister of Finance, Christian Lindner.
The cover photo shared on Facebook indicates that it is the third issue, which is impossible, as the third issue of Eulenspiegel is due out on February 23rd. In addition to the satirical magazine, the publication released a calendar and cards in 2023 with images of various politicians. The Olympic rings are not depicted on any of them.
The issue of the 2024 Paris Olympics has come under the spotlight after it was reported that Russian and Belarusian athletes might be allowed to participate in the games. According to the Ukrainian side, if athletes from these two countries are allowed to participate in the Olympics, Ukraine will boycott the event. A similar position has been voiced by several other countries.
As for Polityka, it is a Polish weekly publication. Not a single issue of 2023 features a sunken submarine on the cover. The issues published in 2022 did not have a similar cover either.
Only the year 2023 is indicated on the disseminated cover, while all other magazine issues indicate the specific release date. In addition, under the title of the publication is the inscription “specjalna sprawa”, which should refer to a special issue. However, in Polish, this phrase is “numer specjalny,” which may indicate that the cover was written by a non-Polish speaker.
Fabricating the covers of well-known publications is one of the widespread methods of Kremlin propaganda, which became especially active after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “Myth Detector” has verified a number of fake covers in the past; For more details, see our article:
About the Source
One of the Facebook accounts which disseminated the fabricated cover of Polityka is Валентина Тотибадзе, who is a repeated spreader of disinformation across different topics.
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