A Facebook user disseminated a piece of disinformation in social networks that Ukraine’s security service arrested a wizard in the Mykolayiv district and charges were pressed against him because he refused to put a curse on Russia. The publication includes an image from the BBC News Ukraine section with the following headline: “Could Ukrainian village wizard become an agent of Russian witches? A story of one crime.”

The BBC News Ukraine-language website does indeed feature such an article. However, the article is about Ukrainian law-enforcement bodies arresting Vasyl Romanyshyn, living in Vradiivka, Mykolayiv district. He was arrested in February 2023 on suspicion of espionage and not for refusing to put a curse on Russia. According to the investigation, the detainee not only justified the Russian Federation’s aggression but collected useful information for the “Empire of Russian Witches.” The investigation says that Mr Romanyshyn was recruited by Russian witches and he also considers himself a wizard.

Vasyl Romanyshyn’s personal page on the Russian Vkontakte social network – under the alias of Vasil Romanov – is devoted to magic and wizardry. His personal account includes a link to Russia’s “Empire of the Most Powerful Witches” with Alyona Polyn indicated as his inspiration.

Notably, Alyona Polyn from Moscow is a famous person in Russia. She considers herself a witch and founded the “Empire of the Most Powerful Witches” in 2015. On 5 February 2019, her organisation held a rally in Moscow to increase Putin’s rating. Ms Polyn herself and the “Empire of the Most Powerful Witches” are notorious for being outspoken supporters of Putin and the Russian government.

According to the BBC article, Vasyl Romanyshyn is charged for spying in the interests of “Russian witches.”

According to the investigation’s material, Vasyl Romanyshyn liked a publication entitled “Alyona Polyn’s ritual in support of Putin on his birthday” on 5 October 2022. The ritual was supposed to send Putin strength. On 20 September, he also liked an article published in the “Russia, glorious country” group which featured Putin’s picture. Mr Romanyshyn was charged under Section 2 of Article 436 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine which refers to the distribution of content that justifies the Russian Federation’s armed aggression against Ukraine. He was given a fine of UAH 217,000. On 15 February 2023, the Press Centre of Ukraine’s Security Service stated that Vasyl Romanyshyn was also charged with espionage alongside his support of the Russian aggression.

In line with the investigation’s materials, the “Empire of the Most Powerful Witches” issued a call in a closed forum on 12 March 2022 that foreign organisations should help the Russian army and Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service as much as possible. As part of this call, Vasyl Romanyshyn created cartographic materials based on Google Maps in March 2022 where he put markers for the location of defence forces, roadblocks and critical infrastructure in the village of Vradiivka and across the Mykolayiv district and sent it through Vkontakte to Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Foreign Intelligence Service.

Therefore, the claim that a wizard was arrested in Ukraine because he did not put a curse on Russia is a lie. In fact, according to the investigation, Vasyl Romanyshyn expressed his support of Russia’s aggression. He was arrested under charges of spying for Russia and transferring information about facilities of strategic importance in the Mykolayiv district to individuals affiliated with the Russian Special Services.


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