Fact Check: 'Most Energetic' Russian Propagandist Did NOT Say He 'Gets Drafted'

Fact Check

  • by: Uliana Malashenko
Fact Check: 'Most Energetic' Russian Propagandist Did NOT Say He 'Gets Drafted' Bad Subtitles

Did Vladimir Solovyov, dubbed "the most energetic" Russian state TV propagandist by the U.S. State Department, say he got drafted? No, that's not true: Deliberately mistranslated subtitles in a viral video that allegedly shows this scene distorted Solovyov's words beyond recognition. However, he did criticize the so-called "partial" mobilization previously ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, drawing international attention for such an out-of-character move.

The claim originated in a tweet (archived here) on September 27, 2022. It contained a two-minute-long fragment of a Russian state TV show featuring Solovyov and another chief Russian propagandist, Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of the state-owned RT Media Group. The English-language caption said:

Solovyov gets drafted and goes crazy.

Here is how the tweet appeared at the time of writing:

Screen Shot 2022-09-28 at 10.11.29 AM.png

(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Wed Sep 28 14:11:29 2022 UTC)

The English-language subtitles said:

This man comes to my door and gives me mobilization papers. I tell him, 'What's your problem? What's your problem? You know who I am?' He tells me, 'You're on the list. Here's your contract.'

Solovyov was speaking in Russian. A bilingual person could spot the mismatch between the original sound and subtitles. Here is what he actually said:

SOLOVYOV: Look at the current terms for the people who can be drafted under the partial mobilization law. Introduce the same terms for volunteers! You'll have more volunteers [than those who can be drafted under the new law.]

SIMONYAN: Of course.

SOLOVYOV: They [people who are mobilized] get a loan holiday ...


SOLOVYOV: They get to keep their jobs [while in the army], which is a problem for volunteers ... They [those who can be drafted] get paid the same as the people serving under contract [with the army.]

Neither Solovyov nor Simonyan were protesting the war. Instead, they advocated against a broad mobilization, returning to the previous talking points of Russian officials who claimed the government would draft predominantly those with combat experience.

Other Lead Stories fact checks about the ongoing conflict in Ukraine can be found here.

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  Uliana Malashenko

Uliana Malashenko is a New York-based freelance writer and fact checker.

Read more about or contact Uliana Malashenko

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