A piece of disinformation is being disseminated in social networks, claiming that bogeymen “are painted as Zelenskyy on pavement and building walls” in Poland. This false information also contains a photograph as proof:
As a result of the verification of the photograph by a geolocation tool, it was identified that shot was made not in Poland but New York City’s Central Park.
In order to learn whether or not this piece of graffiti depicting the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, was truly made in Central Park, FactCheck reached out to the US-based fact checking organisation, Lead Stories.
On 16 December 2022, a Lead Stories reporter visited the exact location in Central Park where Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s graffiti was painted according to the aforementioned false information. However, it turned out that there were no signs of graffiti on the pavement.
Lead Stories’ material, dedicated to this issue, reads that the area is known for heavy pedestrian traffic and it is typically included in sightseeing tours. The reporter also showed a picture of Zelenskyy’s graffiti to a Central Park bicycle rickshaw driver who passes that spot almost every day. The rickshaw driver, Anton Chavusky from Romania, in his interview with Lead Stories, said he had not noticed such an example of graffiti in Central Park.
Lead Stories also spoke with two other carriage operators – one of them Russian-speaking and another from Turkey. They also said that the spot is part of their typical daily route, although they have not seen Zelenskyy’s graffiti.
Graffiti is prohibited in New York City and the New York City Department for Parks and Recreation is responsible for its removal. Lead Stories reached out to the press centre of the Department to verify the issue, although the Department responded that its employees could not find such an example of graffiti anywhere. People can report graffiti through a phone call or by filling out a special form on the Department’s website. The graffiti in Central Park, aimed to discredit Volodymyr Zelenskyy, also cannot be found using a special interactive graffiti tracking map.
Of note is that reports on similar Zelenskyy-themed graffiti in different countries were disseminated in different languages and fact checking organisations have already Checked this out with conclusions that all reports were fake.
In particular, according to one piece of disinformation disseminated in social networks, another Zelenskyy-themed graffiti was found in Warsaw, Poland.
In order to verify this claim, Ukrainian Ukrinform.net reached out to Warsaw City Hall. City Hall official, Mateusz Witczyński, denied the existence of such graffiti and stated that he lives in the same district and had never seen such an item of graffiti on the pavement where a drawing to discredit Zelenskyy was ostensibly made. Mr Witczyński also stated that Warsaw City Hall had not received any signals from local residents about its appearance and sent a photograph to Ukrinform.net showing that there is no graffiti at this precise location.
Apart from Warsaw, there were reports on the internet about graffiti discrediting Zelenskyy in Paris, Madrid and Berlin. However, after a verification of these reports, it was also found out that no such graffiti appears in Paris, Madrid or Berlin.
The original source which is promoting this fake news about graffiti smearing President Zelenskyy is Typicaloptical which publishes doctored photographs on its Instagram and Telegram accounts.
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