Fake circulating on Polish social media about ‘Ukrainians climbing to power in Poland’

Fake circulating on Polish social media about ‘Ukrainians climbing to power in Poland’

Two Polish activists with pro-Russian views resorted to lies ahead of local elections

Polish activists with pro-Russian views are sharing a photo of a citylight with political ads on Facebook and Twitter. The photo was taken in the Polish city of Czestochowa and features a poster with the image of local parliamentary candidate Anna Tymoshenko in blue, yellow, and white. The authors of the posts argue that in this way, "Ukrainians are climbing to power in Poland".

The posts were quickly supported by pro-Russian bots on Twitter and TikTok, as well as Polish-language Russian media outlets and Telegram channels.

This is a fake. Anna Tymoshenko is Polish, her maiden name is Mielczarek. She took the surname Tymoshenko during her marriage.

Anna has been working for the municipal company INVEST IN CZĘSTOCHOWA, which is part of the city council, for more than nine years. Since 2018, she has been the company’s head.

She is running for the city council from the party of the current mayor of Czestochowa, Krzysztof Matyjaszczyk. Local elections in Poland will be held in two rounds on 7 and 21 April 2024.

The white, yellow and blue colors on the campaign poster are the colors of the flag of the city of Czestochowa, not the flag of Ukraine.

In addition, yellow and blue are the colors of Silesia Province (Śląsk - pol.), where Czestochowa is located.

This flag is similar to the Ukrainian flag, with a different arrangement of colors: the Silesian flag has a yellow stripe on top and a blue stripe on the bottom.

During the Independence March in Poland (a traditional march held annually by Polish nationalist forces) on 11 November 2016, aggressive nationalists with pro-Russian views snatched a flag from other demonstrators who came from Silesia and burned it, mistaking it for a Ukrainian flag.

If Anna Tymoshenko had been Ukrainian, she would not have been able to run for Polish elections. According to Polish law, foreigners have the right to run for municipal councils in Polish cities, but only if they have EU or United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland citizenship.

One of the authors of the fake is Jerzy Tyc. He calls himself a Polish historian, but has been living in Russia for years. There, he created an NGO called Kursk, which promotes the Russian propaganda version of the history of World War II.

Jerzy Tyc is often quoted by Russian state media outlets.

Another source of the fake about the "Ukrainian parliamentary candidate" came from the far-right Polish politician Kaja Godek https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaja_Godek. She is known for advocating a ban on abortion and for her anti-LGBT views. Godek is affiliated with the Confederation party, whose representatives have repeatedly spoken out with pro-Russian narratives and are involved in blocking the Polish-Ukrainian border.

In November 2023, she called for the return of Lviv to Poland, supporting the Russian propaganda narrative that Poland allegedly wants to seize the western part of Ukraine.

Earlier, a fake about Ukrainian police officers at farmers' protests was circulated on social media in Poland.

Andriy Olenin, Yuriy Banakhevych

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