On December 15th, Kremlin propaganda media outlets Russia Today, ВЕСТИ, Радио Sputnik, Известия, News-Front, Ren TV, Лента новостей Киева, Вече, Eurasia Daily as well as the Belarusian edition of Tsargrad disseminated an alleged photograph of the graffiti of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskyy. The cartoon graffiti depicts Zelenskyy as a locust devouring the European Union. According to the sources, the graffiti was painted by artists from the group Typicaloptical in Madrid. Bloggers who shared mentioned photo on social networks attached the following quote: “Go home, locust! Thank you.”
Without attaching the photograph, information about the presence of such graffiti in Madrid was published by the following Russian media outlets: Politics Today, SM News, National News, and Federal News Agency.
The photograph of the graffiti was shared by individual Facebook users (1,2,3,4,5) as well.
The disseminated photo is altered using computer software. In fact, no such graffiti is painted on Plaza de las Cortes in Madrid. On December 27th, Myth Detector’s partner verified the existence of graffiti on the site and confirmed with photographs that there is no such graffiti on this street. The source of the photo is an Instagram account that has disseminated fabricated photographs of Zelenskyy’s caricature graffiti in the past as well.
Myth Detector colleagues from the Spanish fact-checking agency “Maldita” helped us to determine the exact spot of the alleged graffiti of Zelenskyy in Madrid. This place is located in Madrid on Plaza de las Cortes. With Google Street View, one can view the nearby area.
Google Street View images from Plaza de las Cortes show the same road dividing blocks as in the shared photo, and the same building can be seen in the background of both images.
In addition, the source of the photo, the Instagram account Typicaloptical, published a photo in nine parts. In one part of the photo, one can better see the identification plate of the street. It can be compared to the sign that is visible on the building shown in the Google Street View image.
The majority of identification plates in the city centre of Madrid are ceramic and have an individual design. The design of the Plaza de las Cortes street sign is as follows:
On December 27th, 2022, at the request of the Myth Detector, the claimed location of the graffiti was visited by Tinatin Japaridze from the Critical Mass, who confirmed that the graffiti of Zelenskyy is not painted on Plaza de las Cortes Street.
Notably, according to the experts in outdoor 3D painting from the Donutstudio.pl agency, Lukasz Polak and Przemysław Wojczak, even if this kind of graffiti was to be washed off, traces would still remain. There are no such traces in the pictures taken on the spot.
Instagram account Typicaloptical has disseminated photos of fake 3D graffiti of Zelenskyy several times in the past.
The photograph of a graffiti caricature of Zelenskyy, which was allegedly located in Madrid, was first published by the Instagram account Typicaloptical. At the moment, on the account page, the photo of the graffiti is published in a split form, creating a collage.
Notably, the same account has disseminated two other fabricated photos of 3D graffiti in the past.
|Fake photos disseminated by Instagram account Typicaloptica||Real photos taken on the spot|
Warsaw, the intersection of Golden Street and John Paul II Alley. Source: Ukrinform
Paris, Gallieni Ave, the entrance of Saint-mande metro station. Source: Myth Detector
The existence of the 3D graffiti, which was allegedly painted in Paris in early December, was fact-checked by the Myth Detector, concluding that no such graffiti was present on the spot. The graffiti allegedly drawn in Warsaw was fact-checked by a number of publications, including Delfi, the Ukrainian media outlet Ukrinform and the Polish fact-checking project Konkret 24. For more details, see the article of the Myth Detector:
Kremlin Media Disseminates a Fabricated Caricature of Zelenskyy in Paris
All the caricatures used in the fabricated graffiti photographs depict the same scenario – President Zelenskyy “devouring” the money and resources of the European Union. The active dissemination of false information by propaganda media is aimed at creating the impression that support for Ukraine is decreasing in Europe, and European citizens believe that Zelenskyy is only interested in demanding more and more money from the European Union.
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