Three Intoxes on “Ukrainian Refugees”

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On May 2, several misrepresented photos spread claiming to denounce the behavior of “Ukrainian refugees” hosted by European Union countries. Man in ultra-nationalist Azov Battalion T-shirt, woman covered in Nazi tattoos, man attacking a Jew: None of these photos actually show Ukrainian refugees.

Short Verification

  • The Russian embassy published a photo of a man in an Azov shirt, which alleged that Ukrainian refugees had angered Latvians with their Nazi behavior and symbols in public. But the man in question is from Latvia, and claims to wear this shirt in support of the Ukrainian fighters.
  • A video showing a “Ukrainian refugee” assaulting a Jew in Belgium is misleading: the man is Ukrainian, but he is not a refugee.
  • Another photo claims to show a Ukrainian refugee with a Nazi tattoo. The photo is from Ukraine, but before the war, the woman’s nationality is unknown.

Check in detail

The man in the Azov shirt is not a Ukrainian refugee

The Latvian embassy says: “Many people in Latvia are shocked by the rude behavior of some Ukrainian ‘refugees’, as well as the increasingly prevalent Nazi symbols in public spaces, including ‘Azov’ thugs.” His Twitter account on May 2. Her publication is accompanied by a photo of a man at a table with a small child in a T-shirt with the Azov emblem, named after the combined national battalion of the Ukrainian army, originally created by the neo-Nazi movement.

Screen capture of a tweet from the Russian Embassy in Latvia on May 2, saying that Latvians are shocked by the behavior of refugees and “Nazi symbols” in public. © Russian Embassy in Latvia Twitter

A reverse image search with the Invid Verify tool (see how to do it here) reveals a Facebook post from May 2, along with a screenshot of the embassy’s tweet. The author, who claims to be the person photographed, explains: “I was wearing a camouflage T-shirt with the Azov logo (Ukrainian Volunteer Battalion in Mariupol). Needless to say, I am not a Ukrainian, a refugee or a Nazi….”

The man shown in the Facebook account photos corresponds to the person who was photographed. In several photos, he is seen wearing a dark flame tattoo on his right forearm, tattoos with inscriptions and two red stripes on his left forearm, which is consistent with what appears in the photo published by the Russian Embassy in Latvia. Black hair, haircut and body type are also similar.

A comparison between the man in the photo released by the embassy and a photo posted on the Facebook account of the man who wrote my denial.
A comparison between the man in the photo released by the embassy and a photo posted on the Facebook account of the man who wrote my denial. © Observers

In a post dated April 20, in which he attached an image of the T-shirt that appears to have been circulated on WhatsApp groups before being shared by the embassy, ​​he claims the photo was taken by an unknown person, who was with his son in the cafeteria at Acropolis Gaming Hall, a shopping mall in Riga, Latvia. He also says in the publication that he himself printed the logo on the Azov shirt.

He adds: “I support the brave Ukrainian volunteers who […] Defend the Azovstal plant in Mariupol to the end,” referring to the industrial site where the fighting is currently taking place between Ukrainians and Russians.

Screenshot of an April 20 post where the man explains the background of this photo
Screenshot of an April 20 post where the man explains the background of this photo © Observers

The Facebook account regularly posts photos that are in Latvia since 2018 like here in 2018, here in 2019 and here in 2020.

No sign of loyalty to the far right or to a group of neo-Nazis appears in the photos posted on his Facebook or Instagram account.

The video showing the attack does not show a Ukrainian “refugee” – it shows a person with Ukrainian citizenship

In a tweet on May 2, a user posted a video showing a member of the Jewish community, in ultra-Orthodox attire, being attacked by another man in the middle of the street. Then the victim managed to subdue the aggressor. Location: Antwerp [en Belgique]. Attacker: Ukrainian refugee. The target: a Hasidic man’ claims the English-language publication, which has garnered more than 74,000 views.

Screen capture of a tweet on May 2, alleging that a Ukrainian refugee assaulted a member of the Jewish community in Antwerp, Belgium
Screen capture of a tweet on May 2, alleging that a Ukrainian refugee assaulted a member of the Jewish community in Antwerp, Belgium © Observers

Antwerp police, contacted by the France 24 Observers editorial board, said:

“although [l’agresseur présumé] He has Ukrainian citizenship, is not a Ukrainian refugee and lives in Antwerp. ”

The accident occurred on April 30. The man was drunk and the police arrested him. From what we understand, the incident is not anti-Semitic in nature. The drunk man annoyed many people, which led to his temporary arrest (12 noon)”, adds the police.

Portrait of a woman on the beach, showing a pre-war scene in Ukraine

Also on May 2, a series of two photos were posted on Twitter claiming to show a “Ukrainian refugee” with her body covered in Nazi tattoos, including a swastika. in englishwith a low spread.

Multiple accounts share a screenshot of a Spanish post as a source. The letter claims that it is about “tourism of refugees who will come to us [en Espagne, NDLR] this summer”.

Screen capture of a tweet on May 2 purporting to show a Ukrainian refugee on a beach in Spain, tattooed with Nazi symbols
Screen capture of a tweet on May 2 purporting to show a Ukrainian refugee on a beach in Spain, tattooed with Nazi symbols © Observers

Photos in Italian were also shared on Facebook.

Thanks to a reverse image search, the same image published in this article was found in the British Daily Star on July 14, 2021. The article notes that the woman was a tourist in Odessa, Ukraine, and that she was forced to flee the beach after people expressed their anger at her tattoo Nazi. His nationality is unknown.

The photos were published on July 11, 2021 via this Telegram channel, without additional information.

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