6 December 2023
Fact checkFalse

False: Woman protesting against Zelenskyy on Ukrainian TV is a digital mashup

The montage mixes a live news broadcast in Ukraine with an unrelated clip using green screen technology, according to the TikTok user who made it.

A tweet on March 17 claims to show a Ukrainian woman interrupting a live news broadcast calling on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to resign and return to his former career as an entertainer.

This Twitter account has over 5,000 followers and self-claims to be a news agency from Syria. The post, which attracted over 200 likes, says the video shows opinions of Ukrainian citizens are being overlooked by the Western media.

Another user tweeted the same video to 176 followers with similar claims.

The video, however, was a digitally manipulated clip and it does not show a Ukrainian woman barging into a TV studio during a news show. The clip is made by a TikTok user called Olga_Stiffler.

In the TikTok post in Russian, Olga_Stiffler says her video is a montage filmed on a green screen, according to a translation by Alexandra Stepanova, a Russian journalism student from the University of Hong Kong.

screenshot of TikTok user olga_stiffler in her mashup video
A screenshot from Olga_Stiffler’s original TikTok video. She says in the comment section the video was a green screen production.
comparison of TikTok user Olga_Stiffler in different videos
A comparison of different videos from the same TikTok user Olga_Stiffler.

The video shows a woman running in front of news anchors, shouting and holding a sign in Russian that says, “Zelenskyy surrender. Stop taking drugs and return to the theatrical stage,” according to Georgia-based journalist Sophie Okhanashvili, who translated the words for Annie Lab.

The woman is then seemingly dragged offscreen by a man wearing a black mask. A TikTok logo can be seen at the bottom right corner of the mashup video.

A partial TikTok symbol can be seen in the bottom right corner of the mashup video
A part of the TikTok watermark can be seen at the end of the video uploaded to Twitter.

Annie Lab was able to find the original broadcast by checking through a YouTube playlist called “FREEДОМ. Украина сегодня,” or “Freedom Ukraine Today” by a Ukrainian news station “Україна 24” (Ukraine 24). The program is broadcasted in the Russian language.

The actual segment was part of a 24-hour live broadcast from Ukraine 24 on March 15, featuring a remote interview with Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych. No protester can be seen in the original video footage.

Annie Lab compared the original newscast with the one on TikTok (see the comparison below).

Annie Lab also found that this TikTok user has posted multiple mashup videos of herself inserted into other unrelated clips about the war in Ukraine; for example, one video shows her and U.S. President Joe Biden walking behind Zelenskyy.

TikTok user Olga_Stiffler in a mashup video in which she inserted herself behind Zelenskyy
This TikTok user also produced other mashup videos, putting herself on-screen with politicians such as President Zelenskyy and U.S. President Joe Biden.

The video used in the Tweet was posted weeks after Marina Ovsyannikova, an editor from Russian state media Channel One interrupted a live broadcast and held up a sign against the ongoing war.

The same Twitter account that posted Olga_Stiffler’s video also tweeted another widely-circulated clip, falsely claiming it shows a scene where a “Ukrainian film studio” is staging a pile of body bags while one of the purported dead bodies is seen smoking a cigarette.

The clip was in fact from a 2020 music video by a Russian hip-hop artist. The claim was debunked by multiple fact-checking outlets, including Reuters and Taiwan FactCheck Center.