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Madison Czopek
By Madison Czopek October 3, 2023

Fake story about death of Burisma 'whistleblower' started on site known for misinformation

If Your Time is short

  • PolitiFact found nothing to substantiate claims that a Burisma accountant was "found dead" before she could provide incriminating evidence on the Biden family. 

  • We traced this viral headline to a site known for publishing misinformation. The narrative appears to have stemmed from an unclear comment made by Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s former attorney.

The tale could have been pulled straight from a political thriller: Someone with sensitive information about the president’s family blew the whistle and was later found dead. 

"I’m sure it’s just a coincidence," said a woman in a June 15 Instagram video. She pointed to a screenshot of a post that featured photos of President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. Text in the screenshot read: "Burisma Energy Accountant, Who Blew Whistle on Biden Bribery Scheme, Found Dead." 

Not only is it not a "coincidence" — it didn’t happen. This sensational story about an informant’s suspicious death is fabricated and was previously debunked.

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

(Screenshot from Instagram.)

The video’s screenshot shows an article from The People’s Voice, a site known for publishing misinformation. It was written by Baxter Dmitry, a frequent byline on misinformation sites.

The June 12 article said a chief accountant at Burisma — the Ukrainian energy company that once employed Hunter Biden — had "offered to provide U.S. authorities with damning evidence regarding financial crimes involving Joe and Hunter Biden" but was found dead before she could testify. The article identified the so-called whistleblower as "the wife of the former Burisma owner Mykola Lisin." 

She wasn’t named in The People’s Voice’s story, but a Lead Stories fact-check that debunked these claims in June identified Lisin’s wife as Marina Lisina. Petro Boyko, a senior partner at a Kyiv-based law firm that represented Marina Lisina in 2014, told Lead Stories that as of June 19, Marina Lisina was "alive and well" and on vacation in Greece — and that she had never been an accountant.

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PolitiFact reached out to the law firm for confirmation that Lisina was still alive, but did not hear back before publication. We found noEnglish news reports that she had died, although we did find reports rebutting such claims. 

The People’s Voice story pointed to a comment by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani — a lawyer and ally of former President Donald Trump — during a Newsmax interview in June. Giuliani said he’d given the Justice Department "one witness ... who is a woman, who is the chief accountant at this crooked company, Burisma. She was the wife of the former owner, who died under suspicious circumstances. And she was willing to give up all of the offshore bank accounts, including the Bidens," according to Newsmax.

It is unclear, based on Giuliani’s phrasing, whether he meant that the woman had died suspiciously or that Burisma’s former owner had died under such circumstances. We tried to contact Giuliani for clarification, but did not hear back. 

Lisina’s husband Mykola (also written Nikolay) Lisin died in a car crash in 2011, according to news reports. We found no evidence Marina Lisina ever worked for Burisma, and Hunter Biden did not join Burisma’s board of directors until 2014

Our ruling

We found nothing to substantiate claims that a Burisma accountant who planned to provide incriminating evidence on the Biden family was "found dead" before she could provide proof. 

A website known for spreading misinformation helped spread this claim.  

We rate it False.

Editor’s Note: Google Translate was used throughout the research of this story to translate websites and documents into English.

PolitiFact Researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.

Our Sources

Instagram post, June 15, 2023

The New Republic, Giuliani Says Key Biden Informant Is Dead, June 16, 2023

Lead Stories, Fact Check: Burisma Co-Owner's Wife Is NOT Dead As Of June 19, 2023; Her Attorney Denies She Was Firm's Accountant, June 19, 2023

FactCheck.org, Misinformation Directory, accessed Oct. 3, 2023 

The People’s Voice, Burisma Energy Accountant, Who Blew Whistle on Biden Bribery Scheme, Found Dead, June 12, 2023

Poynter, Fact-checkers have debunked this fake news site 80 times. It’s still publishing on Facebook, July 20, 2018 

Poynter, Want to get away with posting fake news on Facebook? Just change your website domain, Jan. 30, 2019

NewsWhip, Who is still sharing fake news on social media? April 24, 2018

Columbia Journalism Review, Top Facebook ‘reporters’ include fake news creators, hyper-partisan sources, March 9, 2018

Newsmax, Giuliani to Newsmax: DOJ Overlooked Evidence of Biden Bribery, June 10, 2023

Factchequeado, What we know about the employee of the Ukrainian company Burisma who was allegedly found dead and who would be a witness against the Biden family. June 29, 2023

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Ukraine Lawmaker Dies In Car Crash, April 17, 2011

The Associated Press, Ukrainian energy firm hires Biden son as lawyer, June 8, 2014

NBC News, Email to Hunter Biden raises fresh questions about his tax dealings, Dec. 11, 2020

CNBC, Ukraine gas producer appoints Biden’s son to board, May 13, 2014

Newsmax, Giuliani to Newsmax: DOJ Overlooked Evidence of Biden Bribery, June 10, 2023 

NBC News, Disciplinary panel recommends Giuliani disbarment over 'utter disregard for facts' in 2020 election, July 7, 2023

PolitiFact, Despite video’s claims, neither World Economic Forum nor UN ordered governments to ration water, May 3, 2023

PolitiFact, Largest share of foreign payments went to Biden associates, not kin, House GOP memos show, Sept. 18, 2023

PolitiFact, Claim that Klaus Schwab’s daughter warned of climate lockdowns is from misinformation site, Aug. 3, 2023

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Fake story about death of Burisma 'whistleblower' started on site known for misinformation

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