Fact Check: Video Does NOT Show Ukrainian President Zelenskyy Performing Belly Dance In 2006 -- It's A Dancer From Argentina

Fact Check

  • by: Uliana Malashenko
Fact Check: Video Does NOT Show Ukrainian President Zelenskyy Performing Belly Dance In 2006 -- It's A Dancer From Argentina Not Zelenskyy

Did a viral video show Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy performing a belly dance on camera? No, that's not true: The footage portrays a different person, a professional belly dance instructor from Argentina, and Zelenskyy's face seems to have been superimposed on that person's body.

The story appeared in a post (archived here) published on TikTok on July 15, 2023. It opened:

Zelensky belly dance on Ukrainian TV, DWTS show in 2006. #zelensky #bellydancer #freeworldleader #fat #obese #bellydontlie

The banners added to the video continued:

The Belly Dance of

2006! The stomach

don't lie!

Zelensky 👺🤮😂

The declared leader of

the 'Free World'

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screen Shot 2023-07-18 at 10.24.09 AM.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Tue Jul 18 14:24:09 2023 UTC)

A reverse image search, however, confirms that the video doesn't show either Zelenskyy or 2006 or a regional version of the television show "Dancing with the Stars."

A series of videos portraying the same dance was initially published on the Instagram account of the Argentinean belly dancer and instructor Pablo Acosta on May 25, 2023; May 31, 2023; and June 25, 2023.

The gallery below shows that the light-beige costume and the location (we see the same combination of the light blue wall and fabric decorations of dark navy and red colors in the background) are identical to what appeared in the clip on TikTok, but the person in those videos looks very different from Zelenskyy:

Screen Shot 2023-07-18 at 10.43.07 AM.png

(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Tue Jul 18 14:40:58 2023 UTC; Instagram screenshot taken on Tue Jul 18 14:40:01 2023 UTC; Instagram screenshot taken on Tue Jul 18 10:40:37 2023 UTC; composite image by Lead Stories)

Photos posted on the Instagram account of the Argentinean dancer show even less resemblance to the Ukrainian president, except for the fact that both are brunettes with dark eyes, currently wearing beards.

Zelenskyy did participate in the "Dancing with the Stars" show before becoming president, but in those recordings (for example, here) he performs dances in pairs, looks much younger and doesn't wear a beard, which became associated with his public image only after the 2022 Russia's invasion of Ukraine:

Screen Shot 2023-07-18 at 11.15.59 AM.png

(Source: YouTube screenshot taken on Tue Jul 18 15:15:59 2023 UTC)

It is not the first time the deepfake technology was used to attribute certain actions to the Ukrainian president when he had nothing to do with it. One case took place in March 2022 when another viral clip falsely claimed that Zelenskyy surrendered.

Other Lead Stories fact checks about Volodymyr Zelenskyy 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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