Fact Check: Video Does NOT Show Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Dancing -- It Was Doctored To Add His Face

Fact Check

  • by: Uliana Malashenko
Fact Check: Video Does NOT Show Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Dancing -- It Was Doctored To Add His Face Altered

Does a viral video show Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy dancing in a red suit? No, that's not true: The footage of a different person was altered to add Zelenskyy's face. The dance in question was performed by a man from the Russian city of Lipetsk.

The story appeared in a post (archived here) published on Instagram on January 14, 2024. It opened:

President of Ukraine 🇺🇦 who wants to send our sons and daughters to fight with Russian #ukrainewar #presidentzelenskyy🇺🇦 #comedyskit

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

Screen Shot 2024-01-15 at 9.56.18 AM.png(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Mon Jan 15 14:56:18 2024 UTC)

The same claim circulated on TikTok, Telegram and X, formerly known as Twitter. It was shared in multiple languages, including German, Spanish, Greek, Arabic and Russian.

Before becoming Ukraine's president in April 2019, Zelenskyy worked as an actor and comedian. He also participated in a local version of the "Dancing with the Stars" show. However, the recording that is the focus of this fact check doesn't show any of that.

The man featured in the original video (archived here) uploaded on TikTok in 2020 was not Zelenskyy but a Russian-speaking dancer, also a brunette but with different facial features:

Screen Shot 2024-01-15 at 10.59.41 AM.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Mon Jan 15 15:59:41 2024 UTC)

The caption in Russian didn't mention Zelenskyy or Ukraine. As translated by Chrome, it reads:

Dancing, my dancing, how do you like it? Modern or Oriental?

The same account, Vusaaaal, reuploaded the video in 2022 (archived here.)

"Vusaaaal" also has an Instagram account where he introduces himself as Vusal Mekhtyev (Вусал Мехтиев) and says that he has participated in a reality show.

A search for his name in Russian sources led to a 2015 article in a local Russian newspaper (archived here.) It said that Mekhtyev is from the Russian city of Lipetsk (archived here) and that he decided as a child to follow in the footsteps of his mother, a professional belly dancer.

Previously, Lead Stories debunked a similar claim stating that a video showed dancing Zelenskyy but, in reality, the footage was manipulated to replace the face of an Argentinian dancer.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Ukraine's president has been a target of multiple false claims.

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

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