Our fact-checking department noticed an increase in using deepfakes by Russian propagandists. This time, they have spread a video where Volodymyr Zelenskyy urges the Ukrainian army to leave the Avdiivka axis. We’ll walk you through the process of how we’ve figured out it’s a fake. 

What happened? 

On November 13, our fact-checking bot Perevirka started receiving many messages with a video of a seemingly urgent Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s address shown on the 1+1 channel [a Ukrainian TV channel, — ed.]

“This is the video of a cemetery where Bahmut protectors lie. They, sadly, weren’t extracted from there in time. I am forced to report that right now, in Avdiivka, our boys are also almost completely surrounded. If they don’t leave [that place], all of them will “stupidly” die in the nearest time. So, I command all troops to immediately leave the Adviivka axis and redeploy to Orlivka while there is still time. If the [commanding officers] resist, I permit to arrest and use weapons against them. Because the lives of thousands of our boys are under threat — [but] don’t worry, we will definitely liberate Avdiivka from occupation later, as every town of our Homeland. Glory to Ukraine!” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video. 


Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s speech 

Firstly, we found Zelenskyy’s address for November 13 and compared it to the propagandist video. 

As we can see, the camera angle and the clothes Volodymyr Zelenskyy wears in the two videos are different. 

As for the contents of the President of Ukraine’s address on November 13, Zelenskyy spoke about: 

  • A meeting about the preparation of the state for political decisions of the European Council regarding the beginning of talks about Ukrainian membership in the EU; 
  • new steps [in international politics] that were planned for the following weeks;
  • negotiations with leaders of partner states;
  • new aid packages for the [Ukrainian] troops; 
  • Ukrainian pilot training in Romania for [piloting] F-16; 
  • a meeting with Mustafa Jemilev and awarding him with a Hero of Ukraine decoration. 

As for the situation on the frontline, the President said, “And, of course, the frontline. Avdiivka, Mariinka, Bahmut axis, Lyman direction, Kupiansk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson Oblast… There are complicated situations in each of these directions. And I thank everybody who is resilient. Thank everyone who didn’t lose their strengths and positions. I thank all commanders who care about the soldiers. All combat medics who are saving lives. All our people who remember that Ukraine is only alive because there is someone who is stopping the enemy.”

Although Zelenskyy mentions Avdiivka, the context is completely different from the propagandist video. 

We also found another address of his, where Zelenskyy has identical clothes [as in the propagandists’ video — ed.]. The video has the same camera angle. It’s dated October 31. In this video, the President doesn’t talk about getting the troops out of Avdiivka as well.  


For the next steps, we’ve attempted to find a fragment of the ether that included the video on the 1+1 channel. But we didn’t find that Zelenskyy’s speech on their website, on the TSN [Television Service of News, a news program on the 1+1 channel — ed.] platform, or on the social platforms of other media. Currently, every TV channel transmits the United news [Yedyni novyny, “Єдині новини” in Ukrainian — ed.] marathon since April 17, 2023, so such a Zelenskyy’s address had to appear on all channels-participators of the marathon. 

Cemetery from the video

As for the cemetery, we managed to find where propagandists got video of the graves of Ukrainian defenders. It was published by a user with the username Alex Motor Kharkiv and named Walk of Fame in Kharkiv: where the defenders of Ukraine are buried. Comparing the snapshots of the two, we see these videos are identical. 

We also found the grave of one of the defenders in another video. There, we can see that the date of death is 2017, which doesn’t correlate with the words about soldiers dying in Bahmut at all. The Russian Federation attacked Bahmut after the full-scale invasion in 2022-2023. 

Conclusion: Fake, deepfake 

Author: Nazar Hlamazda 

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Gwara Media has a fact-checking department and fact-checking bot Perevirka, which people use to send us news/posts for verification. We debunk fakes and manipulations spread by Russian propaganda — and expose how it’s constructed and distributed. Buy us a coffee to support and cheer up our fact-checkers