Fact Check: Putin Did NOT 'Bomb Big Pharma in Ukraine' For 'Suspected' COVID-19 Vaccine Production In 2023 -- Farmak's Warehouse Was Hit In 2022 During Nearby Battle

Fact Check

  • by: Uliana Malashenko
Fact Check: Putin Did NOT 'Bomb Big Pharma in Ukraine' For 'Suspected' COVID-19 Vaccine Production In 2023 -- Farmak's Warehouse Was Hit In 2022 During Nearby Battle Made-Up Story

Did Russian President Vladimir Putin order "the destruction of a Kyiv pharmaceutical laboratory suspected of manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines" owned by Farmak, one of Ukraine's major companies selling medical products, in November 2023? No, that's not true: The company's warehouse near Kyiv had been burned down roughly a year and a half earlier. It happened during the early stages of the full-scale war when Russian forces were trying to capture Kyiv, not as a result of a purported secret operation targeting COVID vaccine production centers in November 2023. Also, the claim appeared on a website that regularly publishes fabricated content that is often mistaken for real news.

The claim originated from an article (archived here) published by Real Raw News on November 25, 2023, under the headline "Putin Bombs Big Pharma in Ukraine." It began:

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered the destruction of a Kyiv pharmaceutical laboratory suspected of manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines that reached the arms of Russian citizens.

The Farmak plant was flattened Wednesday night by hypersonic cruise missiles launched from a Russian frigate in the Black Sea, Real Raw News has learned. The blast and ensuing fireball killed approximately 150 employees, Russian intelligence sources told RRN.

This is what it looked like at the time of writing:

Screen Shot 2023-11-28 at 10.34.46 AM.png

(Source: Real Raw News screenshot taken on Tue Nov 28 15:34:46 2023 UTC)

The article cited "FSB Agent Andrei Zakharov," a fictitious source mentioned in other Real Raw News claims previously debunked by Lead Stories.

No credible sources reported the supposed attack on Farmak's facilities in November 2023 in English, Ukrainian or Russian.

The news section on the company's website said nothing about it. As of this writing, Farmak's social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn didn't mention the event in question, either.

Even the Russian state news agency TASS didn't publish anything remotely similar (archived here) on its website in November 2023.

As reported by the Ukrainian state news agency Ukrinform (archived here), one of Farmak's warehouses located near the town of Makariv (roughly 37 miles away from Kyiv) was destroyed as a result of combat action during the first month of the full-scale war.

On March 22, 2022, Farmak Supervisory Board Member Petro Chernyshov wrote on Facebook (translated from Russian to English by Lead Stories staff):

As we understand, there was a tank battle within that area. Our warehouse was fully burned down. The company suffered losses worth about UAH 1.5 billion

The same information was reported by The Kyiv Independent (archived here.)

Contrary to the implications in the Real News article, Putin has never tried to justify Russia's aggression against Ukraine by describing it as a crusade against COVID vaccines, and no known credible war analysis reports suggest that Russia decides on targets in Ukraine based on this factor.

Real Raw News

Real Raw News has a long history of publishing false claims in mock news stories, many of them about convictions and executions of various public figures at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. For example, the site reported former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was hanged (she wasn't); former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta was executed (he wasn't); and "the military" convicted former Attorney General William Barr on charges of treason (it didn't).

The website for Real Raw News includes a disclaimer that declares the site does not stand by the contents of the stories, calling them entertainment. Specifically, it says:

Information on this website is for informational and educational and entertainment purposes. ... We have included this disclaimer for our protection, on the advice on legal counsel.

Real Raw snip.jpg

(Source: RealRawNews.com screenshot taken Tue Aug 3 16:39:48 UTC 2021)

Lead Stories has covered claims published by Real Raw News in the past. Previous Lead Stories debunks of Real Raw News items are collected here.

Other Lead Stories fact checks about the Russian-Ukrainian war can be found here.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.

  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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