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There is no evidence that Zelensky’s video of him visiting a military hospital was pre-recorded or staged.
- The woman who appears with Zelensky in the video and in photographs of his visit is Tetiana Ostashchenko — not Inna Derusova, who died in February.
Russia’s state-controlled media outlet Russia Today cast doubt on the authenticity of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky’s recent military hospital visit, suggesting without evidence that a video he posted with wounded soldiers may have been pre-recorded or staged.
Zelensky posted the video of his visit on Telegram on March 13, along with photos on his official government website. Shortly after, Russia Today, Russian commentator Maria Dubovikova and other social media users falsely claimed that a woman who accompanied him was actually a combat medic who had been killed at the beginning of Russia’s invasion.
"Zelensky published a video in which he allegedly visited a hospital with wounded soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine today," states the translated version of a March 13 post from RT’s Russian-language Twitter account. "But the footage showed a doctor, Inna Derusova, who died on Feb. 26."
"Attentive people mentioned a problem w/ today’s video of Zelenskiy visiting a hospital," Dubovikova wrote in one of two related tweets, which no longer appear on her page. "There is physician Inna Derusova in the video, but she is dead since Feb. 26."
She added: "Thus the video is far from being even recent."
The claim at the heart of the posts is wrong. BBC disinformation journalist Shayan Sardarizadeh, the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, and fact-checking organizations from Spain and Ukraine each verified the identity of the woman in the video.
PolitiFact could not confirm exactly where or when the video of Zelensky’s hospital visit was filmed. But the video does not show Derusova, a combat medic who died in a February artillery attack, and who was honored posthumously with a Hero of Ukraine title. Instead, the woman shown beside Zelensky in the video is Tetiana Ostashchenko. She is a military doctor and the commander of the medical forces for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Spain’s Maldita.es analyzed a photo of Zelensky and Ostashchenko that was uploaded to Zelensky’s government website. Ostashchenko’s name could be seen on her uniform, the outlet reported, and facial recognition technology from Microsoft matched Ostashchenko’s face in the photo from the hospital to another photo of her — but not to another photo of Derusova.
The false rumor about Zelensky’s visit spread to blog sites, pro-Trump forums, YouTube, Telegram and Instagram. They were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
We rate these posts False.
Instagram post, March 13, 2022
Russia Today on Twitter, March 13, 2022
CrowdTangle, accessed March 14, 2022
Maldita.es, No, en este vídeo de Zelenski visitando un hospital no sale una doctora fallecida antes de la visita: la mujer es Tatiana Ostashchenko, comandante de las Fuerzas Médicas de Ucrania," March 14, 2022
StopFake.org, "Фейк: Президент Зеленский не посещал раненых военнослужащих в госпитале," March 14, 2022
The Atlantic Council, "Russian War Report: Russian false-flag operation seeks to drag Belarus into Ukraine war," March 14, 2022
Volodymyr Zelensky on Telegram, March 13, 2022
The President of Ukraine, Президент відвідав поранених захисників України, які проходять лікування у військовому госпіталі," March 13, 2022
Shayan Sardarizadeh on Twitter, March 13, 2022
The Guardian, "Ukraine mourns its fallen as Zelenskiy says 1,300 soldiers killed," March 13, 2022
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