On January 29th, 2023, Georgian lawyer Irakli Zakareishvili, published a photo allegedly depicting an icon of Stepan Bandera. Zakareishvili writes that Bandera’s icon is “planned to be sent to the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra.” The coat of arms of Ukraine is placed in the center of the icon, and the coats of arms of the Azov battalion are depicted in the two upper corners.
The post contains elements of photo manipulation. In fact, the photo does not depict the icon of Stepan Bandera, but the icon of the Mother of God, “Albazin,” in which Bandera’s face, the coat of arms of Ukraine and the emblem of the Azov Battalion are inserted manually.
The claim that an icon of Bandera was written in Ukraine and will be placed in the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra is disinformation. In fact, the photo does not depict Bandera, but an altered version of the Icon of the Mother of God of “Albazin,“ and Bandera’s face, as well as the coat of arms of Ukraine and the emblem of the Azov Battalion, are manually added to it. The frame, in which the coat of arms of Ukraine is inserted, actually surrounds the image of the baby Jesus.
The icon of the Mother of God of “Albazin,” also known as “the Word made Flesh,” takes its name from the fortress of Albazin, (Today’s village of Albazino) in the Amur Oblast, Russia, which was founded in 1650.
The altered visual of Stepan Bandera’s icon appeared on the Internet in 2016. The photo was also used in the article by the pro-Kremlin publication News-Front.
In June 2022, Russian-language sources have been circulating a fabricated document, according to which the Kyiv Patriarchate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church canonized Stepan Bandera as a saint. As the Ukrainian fact-checking platform StopFake writes, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church denied the precedent of Bandera’s canonization and notes that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church does not even discuss this issue because Bandera was a Greek Catholic by religion.
It should be noted that Russian-language sources do not feature any photographs taken in the Greek-Catholic Church of Ukraine, in which the images of Stepan Bandera can be seen on the windows of the church and on paintings of religious content.
Stepan Bandera was the leader of the Ukrainian nationalist movement and a controversial historical figure. Kremlin propaganda uses the name of Bandera and his supporters as one of the arguments to prove the “existence” of Nazism in Ukraine. For more information about the disinformation related to Bandera, see “Myth Detector” articles:
- What do We Know about Stepan Bandera and how does the Kremlin Propaganda use his Name?
- Why Was a Statue Associated with Stepan Bandera Taken Down in Poland?
- By Whom and When was the Motto “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the Heroes” Coined?
About the source
Irakli Zakareishvili is a lawyer who openly voices his pro-Russian sentiments and Soviet nostalgia on social media. Zakareishvili has disseminated a number of false and manipulative claims. For details, see the articles:
- Manipulation as if the ‘1918 Independence Act’ Renders Georgia’s NATO Integration Illegal
- What Do We Know About the Drone ‘SEAFOX’ and How Is It Linked with the Explosion of North Stream Pipelines?
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