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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke October 21, 2022

Photo of Zelenskyy holding a jersey with a swastika was altered

If Your Time is short

This photo was altered. In the original, Zelenskyy is holding a jersey that has the number 95, not a swastika. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is smiling in a photo that shows him holding a jersey bearing his name and a swastika. 

But this photo was altered, and an Instagram post sharing it was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

A reverse image search quickly reveals that in the original photo, Zelenskyy, who is Jewish and whose relatives were killed by Nazis, isn’t showcasing a swastika. The jersey actually showed the number "95" in the place where the swastika appears in the altered image. (The No. 95 is a reference to Kvartal 95, a media production company Zelenskyy started in 2003 and a stand-up comedy team on which he participated in Ukraine from 1997 to 2003.)

The original image was distributed by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Service in June 2021. According to a caption on Agence France-Presse’s website, it shows him "posing with a jersey of Ukraine’s national football team."

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has pushed the idea that the effort is one of "denazification," a narrative historians have decried as "false and destructive."

We rate claims Zelenskyy was holding a jersey with a swastika False.

Our Sources

Instagram post, Oct. 19, 2022

Agence France-Presse, UKRAINE-RUSSIA-FBL-EURO-2020-2021, June 9, 2021

President of Ukraine, biography, accessed Oct. 21, 2022, Volodymyr Zelenskyy bio, accessed Oct. 21, 2022

U.S. Department of State, To Vilify Ukraine, The Kremlin Resorts to Antisemitism, July 11, 2022

Jewish Journal, Statement on the War in Ukraine by Scholars of Genocide, Nazism and World War II, Feb. 27, 2022

Washington Post, Putin says he’ll ‘denazify’ Ukraine. Its Jewish president lost family in the Holocaust, Feb. 25, 2022

Times of Israel, ‘Killed in a fire’: Zelensky gives new details about his family’s Holocaust history, March 23, 2022

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Photo of Zelenskyy holding a jersey with a swastika was altered

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