Social media is awash with rumors that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has fled to Poland. Russian leadership is reportedly behind the unsubstantiated report that some experts are calling “baseless.”
Zelenskyy has captivated the globe as he leads Ukraine during the Russian invasion. His social media posts and live statements have rallied international support for Ukraine.
The Ukrainian president has been hailed as a hero for such statements as, “I need ammunition, not a ride.” And he has frustrated Russia’s effort to justify its attack on Ukraine. In recent days, Zelenskyy has described himself as Russia’s number one enemy and told other leaders that they might not see him alive again.
Friday morning, news broke that Zelenskyy has survived several assassination attempts by Kremlin-aligned forces in recent days.
Also Friday morning, a viral rumor began that he’d fled to Poland.
The rumor was amplified by social media accounts and media outlets across multiple platforms, some with millions of followers.
George Papadopoulos told his 800,000 Twitter followers that Italian media was reporting that Zelenskyy is in Poland.
“The world waits to hear from Zelenskyy himself,” tweeted Papadopoulos, a former Trump adviser who pled guilty to lying to the FBI about meetings with Russia.
As others were quick to point out, the article Papadopoulos screenshotted actually said that the chairman of Russian Duma had made an unsubstantiated report that Zelenskyy left Ukraine.
Papadopoulos “is either media-illiterate or lying to his followers,” @FrankLutz tweeted.
This isn’t the first time Russia has tried to convince the world that Zelenskyy had abandoned his people. Last week, the president posted a video from Kyiv, Ukraine to debunk Russian disinformation that he’d fled or was in hiding.
On Friday, people pushed back against the new rumor that Zelenskyy had left the country.
As the rumor spread that Zelenskyy had effectively abandoned his people, Russian-controlled RT tweeted, “Ukrainian parliament claims President Zelensky remains in Kiev—after reports earlier he’d left to Poland.”
Throughout Friday, Zelenskyy updated his Twitter followers about his conversations with heads of state as he seeks their support for the Ukrainian defense effort.
An Italian journalist reports that he also spoke with reporters in Kyiv on Friday to establish that he in fact is still in Ukraine.
“We will win,” Zelenskyy reportedly told them.