Brigitte Macron (left) and Olena Zelenska (file image)
Olena Zelenska with French first lady Brigitte Macron (left) in Paris on December 13, 2022. Image by AP PHOTO

Fake jet set pic is deadset pro-Putin propaganda

Kate Atkinson December 23, 2022
WHAT WAS CLAIMED

Olena Zelenska has been pictured on a private jet returning from a 40,000 euro Christmas shopping spree in Paris.

OUR VERDICT

False. The image has been altered, with her head added to the body of Hex cryptocurrency founder Richard Heart.

A Facebook post claims Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska travelled on a private jet after spending 40,000 euros ($A63,000) on Christmas gifts during a visit to Paris.

The post features an image (archived here) which appears to show the wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy sitting alone on a plane wearing a Gucci tracksuit and Rolex watch, with two Louis Vuitton bags next to her.

Text with the post reads: “In Paris, in one store, Olena Zelenskaya, wife of comedian zelensky spent 40 thousand euros on Christmas gifts, while ordinary Ukrainians are suffering.”

A screenshot of the Facebook post.
 Olena Zelenska’s head has been photoshopped onto someone else’s body in the image. 

However, the image is a fake, with Zelenska’s head photoshopped onto another person’s body.

A reverse image search shows the original photo was posted by Hex cryptocurrency founder Richard Heart on his Instagram account in April 2022.

The altered image was posted to Facebook on December 22 by a user who frequently shares pro-Putin and anti-Ukraine content.

Zelenska travelled to Paris from December 12-14 for a visit aimed to promote ties between Ukraine and France. She was joined by other Ukrainian officials, including Prime Minister Denys Chmyhal.

But claims of her spending 40,000 euros in a store during her trip are unfounded and appear to have originated from an unverified Twitter account.

Newsweek reported the claim had spread widely on Twitter in the days following her visit (see here, here, here, here and here).

A December 15 article in far-right hoax news website The Gateway Pundit linked to a December 13 tweet from an unverified user based in St Petersburg, Florida.

Translated from French, the tweet said: “Mr Zelensky’s wife, Olena Zelenska, passing through Paris today, is said to have spent Ôé¼40,000 during a 1-hour visit to a store on Avenue Montaigne… (Reliable source: Employee of the store in question in charge collection from customers).”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy (file image)
 Pro-Russia supporters are smearing Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s wife as the war drags on in Ukraine. 

The claim was also mentioned in a December 16 article published by NewsPunch, a website that frequently spreads misinformation.

The only source cited in the article is a tweet from “SGM World News” which reads: “BREAKING: Olena Zelenska, wife of Ukrainian President Zelensky, reportedly spent Ôé¼40000 on a shopping trip in Paris while visiting the country to plead for more support for Ukraine, store employees have claimed online.”

Newspunch has been the subject of numerous fact-checks (see here, here, here, here and here).

The Verdict

A Facebook post’s claim that Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska was pictured on a private jet after spending 40,000 euros on Christmas gifts in Paris is false. The image has been altered. Claims of Zelenska spending thousands of euros on a shopping spree during a diplomatic trip to Paris can be traced back to misinformation news sites.

False – The claim is inaccurate.

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