Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has become one of the major figures on the world stage since Russia’s invasion of his country and his decision to stay in the capital Kyiv despite American help to evacuate.

Since then, on several occasions, Zelenskyy has been accused of fleeing/ abandoning the country. He has debunked these claims by posting videos from his office over the past few weeks. This has led to praises pouring in for Zelenskyy from different corners of the world, turning him into an icon.

But a section of social media users has shared a video of a sexually-explicit comedy skit performed on a reality TV show with the claim that the comedian is the Ukrainian President. It must be noted that Zelenskyy is a former actor and comedian.

The video is also viral on Facebook with the same Hindi caption.

बड़े बड़े के चक्कर में इतना बड़ा युद्ध करवा दिया आपके सामने प्रस्तुत करते हैं….नये वैश्विक हीरो, बुद्धूजीवी – लिब्राण्ड – एलीट समाज के नये जीजू, महान योद्धा, विश्व की धुरी, घोड़ा-गार्लिक…. यूक्रेन के महान राष्ट्रपति – वोलोदयमिर ज़लेंस्क्य..अकेले पूरी रशियन फौज का डट कर मुकाबला करते हुए। एक मिसाइल इसकी आँखों में मारो पुतिन अंकल… 😝

Posted by रतन प्रकाश मौर्य on Monday, 28 February 2022

Not Zelenskyy

We broke the video down into keyframes and performed a reverse image search of one of the stills using Yandex. This led us to a blog where the same video was available with Russian captions.

Upon translation, we found that the video was part of a Ukrainian TV show called “League of Laughter”. Taking that as a clue, we looked for the performance on the YouTube channel of League of Laughter (Лига Смеха) and found that the video was uploaded on October 21, 2017.

We noticed that Volodymyr Zelenskyy is in the show but he appears at the beginning for a few seconds as the host, then one of the judges takes over and announces the performance.

We also checked the description of the video which reads, “League of Laughter 2017, the second game of the 1/4 finals, Vinnitsa team”. Taking that as a clue we performed a keyword search for “Team Vinnitsa” and came across a blog that described the team in detail. The blog identifies the man in the video as “Vasily Gumenyuk – actor and vocal voice of the group.”

We looked for Vasily Gumenyuk in Russian (Василий Гуменюк) on Google and came across several news reports about him. Vasily was appointed as the head of the Yarmolinetsk Regional State Administration in the Khmelnytsky region by Zelenskyy in February 2020.

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Hence, a video of a comedy performance by Vasily Gumenyuk on a TV show was shared with the false claim that he is Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

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About the Author

Kalim is a journalist with a keen interest in tech, misinformation, culture, etc