Spilnota Detector Media

Fake Ukraine allegedly overthrew “Colombian mercenaries” in the Kharkiv direction

Pro-Russian telegram channels are spreading information that mercenaries from Colombia have been transferred from the Ukrainian side to the Kharkiv direction. As “proof” of this, propagandists add the corresponding first-person video recording, allegedly of a Colombian firing from a dugout.

However, the Center for Countering Disinformation under the National Security and Defense Council reports that this video is an orchestrated fake of Russian propaganda. First of all, there is no direct evidence or symbols in the video that indicate the person is a “Colombian mercenary”. There are also no documents, symbols, or evidence that could confirm this information. And the location of the shooting does not give any reason to claim that this is the Kharkiv direction. After all, the video doesn't show the face of the person filming, nor does his accent sound Colombian.

This fake video was created as part of a Russian disinformation campaign against “foreign mercenaries” in the ranks of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Previously, we denied information that the Ukrainian Embassy in the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire allegedly recruits mercenaries to participate in the war against Russia.

Fake The Ukrainian Embassy in the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire is allegedly recruiting mercenaries to participate in the war against Russia

While monitoring the African segment of the network, the Center for Countering Disinformation under the National Security and Defense Council discovered material that the Ukrainian Embassy in the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire seems to be recruiting mercenaries to participate in the war against the Russian Federation. In particular, this information was disseminated through the WhatsApp messenger and the social network Facebook.

However, this is fake. The document that is being distributed as evidence contains signs of forgery. The Ukrainian embassy in Côte d’Ivoire does not have a diplomat named Denys Chernyshenko, who is listed as a contact person in the fake document. The address and telephone number of the department are also incorrect, the Center reports.

Russia has intensified its attempts to discredit Ukraine amid the expansion of the network of Ukrainian diplomatic missions in Africa. Also, the spread of disinformation about the activities of Ukrainian diplomats in Africa is part of the Russian information campaign ahead of the Peace Summit, which will be held in Switzerland on June 15-16. Previously, we analyzed the Russian message that the Peace Summit is supposedly a cover for Zelenskyi’s illegitimacy.

Fake Russian military allegedly captured a French mercenary

Russian telegram channels and the Russian Embassy in South Africa distributed a video in which several Russian fighters allegedly captured “a French citizen who fought on the side of the Ukrainian Armed Forces”.

However, in fact, this is a fake video, according to the Center for Countering Disinformation at the National Security and Defense Council. The video was directed by Russian propagandists to promote the narrative about the presence of French mercenaries in Ukraine. In particular, the falsification of the video is evidenced by the very strong accent of the “captive”, which was also emphasized by the French Embassy in South Africa in a message from their colleagues from the Russian Federation:

“You have been spreading fake news for a long time, and we have become accustomed to this rather undiplomatic practice. However, this news is particularly meaningless. We encourage your actors to work on their accent in their French lessons at Alliance française”.

The Center also noted that the publication of such fake videos by representatives of Russian diplomatic departments once again confirms that Russian diplomacy is just a tool for disseminating Russian propaganda. Previously, we analyzed a Russian video fake, according to which only three Ukrainian men who were mobilized allegedly immediately died in the war.

Fake Ukraine allegedly violated the convention on diplomatic relations by recruiting mercenaries abroad

Russian resources are disseminating information that Ukraine is allegedly recruiting mercenaries abroad into the International Legion, thereby violating the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. In asserting this, propagandists refer to the corresponding statement by the speaker of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Mariia Zakharova.

In fact, this information is not true. Ukraine does not recruit mercenaries. They write about this in the Center for Strategic Communications and Security at the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine. Indeed, according to international law, a mercenary is a person who is not part of the Armed Forces of a state and who participates in hostilities in order to receive material compensation. In addition, it significantly exceeds the remuneration of a combatant of the Armed Forces of the same rank and function. The International Legion of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is an integral part of the Armed Forces of Ukraine with material support at the same level as other formations.

With this fake, the Russian propaganda machine is trying to divert attention from the recruitment of mercenaries by Russia itself. Moreover, the message about the International Legion as “mercenaries” is being spread with the aim of removing its military personnel from the scope of the Geneva Convention, which protects combatants, in particular in captivity. We previously wrote about how Russia blurs reality using the term “foreign mercenaries”.

Fake Allegedly, there is a video with coffins containing “Polish mercenaries” being returned from Ukraine

Propagandists are circulating a short video on social media showing several men laying out what they claim are corpses in black bags in a square in central Warsaw. Many Polish flags and commemorative wreaths are visible in the background. In the description of the video they write: “Polish mercenaries are returning from the war in Ukraine!”, “Why are they being thrown away like sacks of potatoes?”, “Is this somehow disrespectful to the corpses?”, “Yes, that’s right, let’s eat and go home”, “I hope they realized that it’s better not to fight with the Russians!”, - readers of pro-Russian public pages comment on the video.

StopFake journalists managed to discover the original video. On March 23, it was published on the YouTube channel “ToNieNaszaWojna!” (It’s Not Our War!) under the title “Najgorszy dzień pokoju jest lepszy niż najpiękniejszy dzień wojny. Demo Warszawa, Polska 03.23.2024” (“The worst day of peace is better than the best day of war. Demonstration Warsaw, Poland, 03.23.2024”).

In fact, what is happening in the video is a performance that took place as part of the rally on March 23, 2024 in Warsaw. The description of the video says that this is an “anti-globalist, anti-American demonstration in Warsaw against the war in Ukraine”.

Propagandists want to intimidate foreigners with this video. They say they will be forcibly hired to die for Ukraine. However, participation in the International Legion of the Ukrainian Armed Forces is voluntary.

Fake The head of the Georgian Legion, Mamuka Mamulashvili, allegedly died in the war

Pro-Russian telegram channels are disseminating information that during the Russian-Ukrainian war, the head of the Georgian Legion, Mamuka Mamulashvili, was killed as a result of rocket attacks. In claiming this, the propagandists refer to a message signed RIP on his page.

In fact, this news is false, according to the Center for Strategic Communications and Information Security. Mamulashvili himself has already managed to refute this information. In a comment to the Georgian service of Radio Svoboda (Liberty), he explained: “They are amusing themselves”. The message from the head of the Georgian Legion with the caption RIP depicts another military man, Mukhran Lomtadze. This is evidenced, at least, by his name on the patch.

Russian propagandists are trying to pass off wishful thinking by spreading such disinformation. They say that the Russian army successfully fulfills all the tasks assigned to it at the front. In fact, in this way propaganda turns a blind eye to ordinary Russians. More materials on this topic can be found under the tag #ForeignLegion.

Fake Rocket attack on the Park Hotel in Kharkiv seems to be an attempt to eliminate Foreign Legion fighters

Enemy telegram channels are spreading the fake news that the missile attack on the Park Hotel in Kharkiv on January 10, 2024 was directed against the Foreign Legion, whose fighters allegedly lived in the complex. It was also noted that the strikes did not lead to casualties. “Unfortunately, the strike did not lead to any result (only the facade was damaged, and the mercenary unit lived on the ground floor). Therefore, the Ukrainian media promptly made a story about how the Russians were shelling peaceful hotels. Immediately after the strike, units of the International Legion and foreign mercenaries who lived in similar buildings began to be notified throughout Kharkiv”, said one of the anonymous telegram channels disseminating pro-Kremlin rhetoric. It's fake.

According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, thirteen people were injured as a result of a rocket attack on the Park Hotel in Kharkiv. In total, there were 31 people in the hotel complex: eight employees and 23 guests. All these people were civilians; there was not a single military man in the hotel. Representatives of foreign delegations, journalists, and documentarians often stayed here, in particular. According to the Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor's Office, the Russian military fired two missiles from the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system at Kharkiv at about 22:30 from the direction of Belgorod. One rocket hit the ground near the facade of the hotel, the second hit the roof of the building, which led to a fire. According to preliminary data, among the victims in the hotel there was one Turkish citizen, one Georgian citizen, both represented the Turkish media. One man's condition is serious. Most of the victims suffered from shrapnel wounds and traumatic brain injuries. “There were no military mercenaries, there were no military people here. This is a civilian facility, civilian infrastructure. We have always settled our friends, guests who were in Kharkiv, and foreign delegations here”, said the mayor of the city, Ihor Terekhov, in a comment to Suspilne (Public) Kharkiv. “The military never lived in this hotel, almost all of Kharkiv knows this. This hotel was used by journalists. This was a well-known fact. At the time of the attack, there were foreign journalists in the hotel, in particular from Turkey. Therefore, I believe that the Russian Federation dealt this blow specifically to the media”, said Volodymyr Tymoshko, head of the Kharkiv region police. Serhii Tomilenko, head of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, notes that Russia is targeting journalists in Kharkiv: “In October - Reikartz, this New Year - Kharkiv Palace and at night - Park Hotel. These hotels were constantly used by journalists from national and international media to stay. And with every shelling, journalists were injured”.

Russia attacks civilian targets, cynically presenting them as legitimate military targets, but they are not. Such attacks are a flagrant violation of the 1949 Geneva Convention, which prohibits deliberate attacks on civilians, including attacks on civilian buildings, in particular hotels.

Message The military ID of a fallen American soldier - the Russians found confirmation of the presence of “foreign mercenaries” in Ukraine

Anonymous telegram channels in the Russian segment are distributing a photo of an allegedly Ukrainian military ID of “foreign mercenary” Brian Boenger. The document contains the fighter’s personal data, and also contains a separate photograph: a photograph of both guys kissing. This is how the authors convince that this is a photograph of an American. They also add that this ID was found in the Zaporizhzhia direction and that “his beloved friend waits in vain for the military” hinting at the probable destruction of the American military man.

The analysts from the VoxCheck project began analyzing the case and found that the photos of the military ID were partially compiled. The figure of the American fighter Brian Boenger is real, and he fought in Ukraine. Using a reverse search, the fact-checkers found that the image of an American soldier’s military ID was indeed published in journalistic materials back in 2016.

And to create a fake photograph, propagandists superimposed on the image of a real military ID a photo of a stranger and a photo of two guys kissing.

Moreover, Brian Boenger is not a “foreign mercenary”; in April 2016, he entered into an official contract with the Armed Forces of Ukraine. At that time, the decree allowing foreigners or stateless persons to serve in the Armed Forces of Ukraine was signed by the then President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko back in November 2015.

Russian propaganda systematically fuels the narrative that professional military personnel from other states - the so-called “foreign mercenaries” - are fighting in Ukraine. Thus, Russian propaganda also tries to justify the failures of the Russian army. They say they are not fighting “weak” Ukrainians, but “specially trained NATO members” or Americans. Moreover, Russian propaganda spreads fake news about hiring students, the unemployed, and they like to show that in Ukraine there is no one left to fight and they are recruiting “everyone in a row”.

By the way, in our Newspeak section we talked about Russia that recruits mercenaries, in particular, Wagner group representatives. This is essentially a terrorist organization within the Russian army.

Fake In Ukraine, a Polish military serviceman of the Ukrainian Armed Forces is wanted for murder

Propagandists spreading pro-Russian rhetoric in the media and social networks claim that Mazur Mecheslav, a Polish citizen serving in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, has been put on the wanted list in Ukraine. He is allegedly suspected of committing a number of crimes, in particular “arbitrary escape from a military unit, murder, causing harm to health and bullying of minors”. As evidence, they are distributing a photo of a wanted notice for this person. It's fake.

Specialists from the StopFake project drew attention to it. They noticed a number of grammatical errors in the “announcement”, which are not typical for native speakers of the Ukrainian language and representatives of government agencies. For example, the official abbreviation of the police agency, the proper word “police”, the use of the Russian word “department” and the phrase “poses a threat”. They also tried to find this person in open databases of all people wanted in Ukraine on a separate website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine. Among the persons found on the site there is no Mecheslav Mazur, and other persons with the same surname do not match the parameters specified in the “announcement”.

By spreading such fakes, propagandists want to once again discredit the Armed Forces of Ukraine. They say that only criminals fleeing responsibility abroad serve them. Detector Media has already refuted a number of fakes and manipulations of Russian propaganda about the “Foreign Legion”.

Manipulation Ukrainian military infected a soldier of the International Legion with an “unknown disease”

Such information was disseminated in social networks, in particular, on telegram channels broadcasting pro-Kremlin rhetoric. The reports say that allegedly in the Kharkiv region, the Ukrainian military infected a Polish fighter of the Foreign Legion with an “unknown disease”.  According to the authors, after the infection, the Polish fighter was allegedly put into a medically induced coma in order to find out “what kind of disease the Ukrainians infected him with”. Subsequently, the “sick” was sent to the Polish city of Rzeszow, where he allegedly spread the virus to the Poles. The publications refer to the material of the Associated Press. It is not true.

The fact-checkers of the VoxCheck project investigated this case and determined that the material really refers to an investigation into the cause of an outbreak of legionnaires' disease in the city of Rzeszow, which killed 7 people and infected more than 100. And this is not an “unknown disease”, but legionellosis. One can get sick from small drops of water containing the causative agent of the disease - the Legionella bacterium. The disease is not transmitted from person to person. Weapons for Ukraine are being transported through the city, so Stanislav Zharyn, Deputy Minister-Coordinator of the Polish intelligence services, explained that the services will check Russia’s involvement in the spread of the disease.

However, there was no talk of any International Legion and Polish fighter in the material. This is just an invented story of propagandists. At the same time, they used the topic of the material to create a false impression that the infection started from the Ukrainian military. In fact, the authors distorted the context of the material and added false information from themselves. Moreover, the first case of legionellosis infection was found in Poland, that is, in the city of Rzeszow. Meanwhile, not a single case of legionellosis has been registered in Ukraine over the past year. Russian media regularly spread misinformation about disease outbreaks in Ukraine. Including in order to intimidate people with various ailments. Also to show that Ukrainian officials do not care about the sanitary and epidemiological state of the country and leave everyone to the mercy of fate. Propagandists seek to discourage Ukrainians to the state.

Read similar fakes on the topic: an infectious disease with leptospirosis is allegedly spreading among the Ukrainian military, or how an outbreak of cholera was allegedly recorded in Odesa. Kyiv and Mykolaiv also suffered from this propaganda story. But finally, pay attention to the message that cholera in Ukraine is the work of the United States and their “biological laboratories”.

Fake American students are recruited into the Foreign Legion of Ukraine

Such information was disseminated in social networks, in particular, on telegram channels broadcasting pro-Kremlin rhetoric. Reports say that one of the universities in the United States posted a job advertisement for the Foreign Legion of Ukraine. The ad itself says: “Don't know how to pay off your student loan? Join the Foreign Legion of Ukraine!” It is not true.

The fact-checkers of the Center for Counteracting Disinformation under the National Security and Defense Council, who found out that such an announcement was not real, took up the case. Through a reverse search on Google, the experts found that ads are published only in the Russian segment of social networks. It is most likely that the authors of the fake compiled the photo using Photoshop.

Russian propaganda systematically nourished the narrative that regular military personnel of other states, the so-called “foreign mercenaries”, are fighting in Ukraine. Thus, Russian propaganda is also trying to justify the failures of the Russian army. Like, they are fighting not with “weak” Ukrainians, but with “specially trained NATO members” or Americans. Moreover, Russian propaganda throws in fakes about hiring students, the unemployed, and the like to show that there is no one to fight in Ukraine and they are recruiting “everyone in a row”.

Earlier, we refuted such a fake, that the United States calls on people without a fixed place of residence to join the International Legion of Ukraine.

Fake Georgian Legion fighting in Ukraine filmed a video with threats of murder and rape

The video was circulated in Russian propaganda media. It shows three masked men with Georgian Legion chevrons fighting in Ukraine addressing  “Russian pigs” and promising to dance on their graves, as well as threatening residents of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali, including women and children, with rape. It's fake.

The fact-checkers of the Myth Detector project drew attention to the case. In the video, the faces of the soldiers are covered, so it is impossible to identify them. Also, the commander of the Georgian Legion, Mamuka Mamulashvili, made a statement on Facebook that “this is another Russian provocation aimed at discrediting the Georgian Legion fighting in Ukraine”. The persons depicted in the video are not related to the Georgian Legion.

Analysts also note that the person in the video pronounces Georgian words incorrectly and violates morphology: instead of “ruso gorebo” (Russian pigs), the masked man says “Rusi gorebo”, and instead of “ukrainuly sheteva” (Ukrainian attack) on the video one can hear “Ukrainskuli sheteva”. Therefore, the Georgian language is not native for the man in the mask.

Thus, Russian propaganda is trying to discredit the Georgian Legion that is fighting in Ukraine and spread the opinion that criminals and murderers are fighting in the International Legion. Earlier, Detector Media denied the fake that all foreigners fighting in Ukraine are mercenaries.

Fake The United States calls on persons without a fixed place of residence to join the International Legion of Ukraine

Such information was disseminated in social networks, in particular, on telegram channels broadcasting pro-Kremlin rhetoric. Reports say the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has launched an advertising campaign on the New York subway urging homeless people to join the Ukrainian International Defense Legion. The authors of the messages also add a photo of a leaflet with the inscription: “Tired of living on subsidies? Join the International Defense Legion of Ukraine!”. At the same time, they seem to promise a monthly salary and medical insurance. It is not true.

The case was noticed by the fact-checkers of the project “Beyond the News”, who investigated that the postcard was not real. As they explain, a fake can be recognized for a number of reasons, in particular:

The advertising card does not correspond to the unified design system of advertising banners. The location and color scheme of the fake postcard differs from the New York subway design code;

The number that poor New Yorkers are advised to apply for really exists. However, this number is for Washington, not New York;

Getting into the Legion is not easy. Among the requirements for candidates is the presence of combat experience. That is, a person without a specific place of residence will not be able to be accepted into the Legion if they really do not meet certain requirements.

By spreading this fake, propagandists are trying to convince that everything is bad in Ukraine, that no one can fight, that the Ukrainian leadership resorts to recruiting people without a home. We recall that in our new section “Newspeak”, analysts of Detector Media analyzed how Russian propaganda discredits members of the Foreign Legion, calling them “foreign mercenaries”.

Manipulation Most countries support Putin in the war against Ukraine

This is written by Russian and pro-Russian information resources with reference to the materials of the American edition of Newsweek. Like, many countries condemned the actions of the West and supported the position of the Russian president on the “situation” in Ukraine. This is manipulation.

There is not a single mention in the Newsweek article that most countries took the side of Russia in the war against Ukraine. The author of the material writes that different countries of the world proceed from their agenda and their own interests in the context of responding to the war. Therefore, they do not always fully share the approach of the US and the EU. Many countries, for example, advocate a "diplomatic settlement" of the conflict, but do not necessarily side with Russia in this war.

As StopFake writes, Daniel DePetrice's article was published in the “Dumky” (“Opinions") section, so the author's opinion is also not necessarily shared by Newsweek. The author notes that, despite the fact that the events in Ukraine are cruel, each country primarily pursues its own geopolitical interests and does not always fully share the “approach of the West”. The article does not say that "most countries have begun to support Putin." Propagandists have distorted the idea that some countries do not want to completely lose ties with Russia and presented it as support for Putin.

Fake Polish special forces under NATO command fight in Ukraine

This is reported by foreign pro-Russian media. They say that an operational group of officers and soldiers of the Polish special forces in Ukrainian uniforms arrived in Marhanets, Dnipropetrovsk region, to detect pro-Russian residents of the city. This unit is under the control of NATO Headquarters. It is not true.

NATO countries do not take part in hostilities in Ukraine. The fact-checkers of EU vs Disinfo drew attention to the spread of this fake. They note that there is no evidence of the presence of NATO troops in Ukraine. Western instructors exclusively teach the Ukrainian military how to use modern weapons supplied to Ukraine by Western partners.

Fake The number of foreigners in the Ukrainian army will soon exceed 50%

Pro-Russian Telegram channels and media write about this. The Russian army is allegedly opposed not by the Armed Forces, but by foreigners, "NATO armies", "battalions of Poles", etc. According to Russian intelligence, the Ukrainian army is currently filled with foreign mercenaries by 30%, and soon the number will exceed 50%. That's when the message will allegedly be made that NATO troops are fighting in Ukraine. It is a fake.

According to the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, about 700,000 Ukrainian soldiers are resisting Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The number of foreign volunteers is estimated from several hundred to several thousand people and can`t be "half" of the Armed Forces.

In August 2022, the General Staff of the Armed Forces reported that no more than 100 foreign servicemen are serving in the Ukrainian army under contract. As StopFake writes, in March 2022, about 20,000 volunteers applied to participate in the International Legion of Terror Defense of Ukraine. The legion includes fighters from all continents. The largest number of representatives are from the USA, Great Britain, Poland, the Baltic countries, Canada, Norway, Finland, and Denmark. In general, it is 70–80% of foreign volunteers. According to the Embassy of Ukraine in the USA, more than three thousand Americans applied to join the Legion. However, the final number of foreigners is not announced by the military command for security reasons. The indicated numbers are only applications, and it is unknown how many of those who expressed a desire to go to the front actually went to fight.

Russian propaganda spreads fakes that the NATO army is allegedly opposing them in Ukraine to justify the failures of their army for the Russians. Moreover, the agitprop said that allegedly the Ukrainian military can`t reach the level of military training according to NATO standards. Furthermore, the successful counteroffensive of the Armed Forces is due to the Pentagon's direct participation in the development of the plan.

Fake In the USA mercenaries are being massively recruited to Ukraine for 1-2 thousand dollars

This information is spread by the Kremlin mass media. American mercenaries allegedly should participate in hostilities.

To prove it, they cite an ad on the American recruiting agency Silent Professionals website for a job search in the field of protection and security, where a vacancy has been published. It involves work in the territory of Ukraine. However, it is not related to direct participation in hostilities. The job description is titled "Extraction/Protective Agents". It states that the employer is looking for a specialist for the evacuation operations of individuals and families from rural areas and large cities in Ukraine. Moreover, the claim of a "massive recruitment of mercenaries" is a propagandist fantasy, as the vacancy says that the company is looking for several agents or an evacuation and protection team, according to Stop Fake.

The existence of such an announcement cannot be proof of the fact that mercenaries are allegedly fighting for Ukraine. Foreign citizens who take direct part in hostilities on the side of Ukraine are not mercenaries. They enter into the service of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, submit to their command, and receive the same financial support as citizens of Ukraine. Those legionnaires who did not want to sign a contract with the Armed Forces joined volunteer battalions. They have no material benefit - most of them have personal, ideological reasons to protect justice and the rights of Ukrainians.

Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, Russian propaganda has been promoting in the public space the thesis that foreigners who fight for Ukraine are allegedly mercenaries and are guided by the desire to receive material rewards, so Russia will not use the norms of the Geneva Convention against these "criminals". It is worth mentioning that many mercenaries in the Russian army came to Ukraine with weapons to earn money.

Fake In the Kharkiv region, foreign mercenaries shoot at local residents who did not want to give up their homes

This information was spread by the Russian media. Allegedly, as a result of the conflict, 9 civilians were injured. The Center for Combating Disinformation under the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine reports that this is a fake.

Fake Two battalions of Polish infantry fought in Ukraine; they were destroyed

Russian media spread information that two battalions of the Polish army allegedly arrived in Ukraine and were sent to Pavlograd (Dnipropetrovsk region). Reports say that these Polish battalions were destroyed on the territory of Ukraine. However, it is not true.

Polish regular troops do not take part in Russia's war against Ukraine. In a comment to the Polish publication Konkret24, the General Staff of the Polish Army denied information about the participation of Polish battalions in the war on the territory of Ukraine, calling such reports another fake of systematic Russian propaganda. Poles can fight in Ukraine as part of the International Legion, which is subordinate to the Armed Forces. Therefore, Poles or any military personnel with foreign citizenship who fight in this legion are Ukrainian military personnel. More details.