Document forgery and fake journalist: How Russia created fake about Zelensky's flight to Florida

Document forgery and fake journalist: How Russia created fake about Zelensky's flight to Florida

Fact Check
Russian agitprop fabricated a Certificate of Naturalization

Kremlin pool media, z-Telegram channels, as well as dubious American and Greek news websites are circulating a photo of a Naturalization Certificate (a document issued to U.S. citizens born in another country) allegedly granted to President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky.

Propagandists claim that this photo was posted anonymously by an agent of the U.S. Secret Service (an organization that protects the U.S. president and his family, senior U.S. officials and foreign leaders on American soil). This "agent" said he would guard Volodymyr Zelensky and his family after their escape to the United States, which is planned for the spring of 2024. He also noted that 20 million dollars would be allocated for the Zelensky family per year, which is 10% of this department’s  budget.

This is a fake. Graphic editors were used to alter the Certificate of Naturalization. Its template can be easily found on the official websites of the U.S. Immigration Service. There are also dozens of similar documents shared on the Internet by U.S. citizens themselves.

The forged document has a number of inconsistencies.

First, genuine documents have a space between every three digits in the registration number, while the fake one does not.

Secondly, the original documents have a seal with an eagle next to the photo and a signature of a person to the left of the photo. The forged document does not have this, nor does the draft that can be downloaded from the websites of U.S. government agencies.

Thirdly, the photo of Volodymyr Zelensky, which the propagandists used for the fake, can be found on any news website in the world, including ours.

The source of the fake was an audio recording posted anonymously on the John Doe YouTube channel with 33 subscribers. This channel was created on September 18, 2023 and has only featured this video since then. Even those who watched the video doubt that the man whose voice can be heard in the video actually works for the U.S. Secret Service. In the comments written in Russian, there are many posts where users consider this video to be fake.

The same fake photo with a forged Naturalization Certificate of Volodymyr Zelensky was first posted not on the John Doe YouTube channel, but on the English-language website DC Weekly. A "journalist" named Jessica Devlin is allegedly the author of the material. Her profile on the website says that she was previously a correspondent in Iraq and Moscow.

However, such a journalist does not exist. Her profile photo on the website belongs to Judy Batalion, an American of Jewish origin. Her photo is easy to find on the Internet. It was first published by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in 2013.

It is not the first time that Russian propaganda creates fakes that the President and his family are allegedly fleeing Ukraine. In particular, the fake that First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska received an Israeli passport has already been debunked.

Earlier, Russian propaganda created a fake video that actor Danny Trejo allegedly asked to pay kickback for supporting Ukraine.

Andriy Olenin

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