Fact Check: Tucker Carlson Did NOT Release A Photo Of Zelenskyy Captured and Arrested

Fact Check

  • by: Alexis Tereszcuk
Fact Check: Tucker Carlson Did NOT Release A Photo Of Zelenskyy Captured and Arrested TV Show Image

Did online talk show host Tucker Carlson release a photo of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy "captured" and being sent to a high-security prison in Russia? No, that's not true: The image posted on social media is a screenshot from the Ukrainian sitcom series "Servant of the People" that Zelenskyy starred in before becoming president of Ukraine. The show's production company logo is clearly visible in the image, and the screenshot on social media matches footage from the television show that is publicly available online. There is no evidence that Carlson, who recently interviewed the Ukrainian president's chief foe, Russian President Vladimir Putin, ever released the photo of Zelenskyy.

The claim appeared in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, on April 8, 2024 (archived here). The post's caption said:


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

Twitter screenshotScreenshot 2024-04-12 at 10.44.36.png

(Source: X screenshot taken on Fri Apr 12 22:21:26 2024 UTC)

While the caption on the post claims (with the incorrect indefinite article) that "Tucker released an video," there is only a photo with the post, not a video. The photo is a screenshot from the 2015-19 Ukrainian TV series "Servant of the People" ("Слуга Народу") that Zelenskyy starred in and that the production studio he co-founded, Kvartal-95, produced. In the series, a satire of Ukraine's problems with corruption and political mismanagement, Zelenskyy played a teacher who becomes Ukraine's president.

The image on the X post is a screenshot from the first episode of the third season of "Servant of the People," available on YouTube. The same scene can be seen briefly at 1:32 in the video:

Here is the screenshot from the video:

Screen Shot 2024-04-12 at 3.48.52 PM.png

(Source: YouTube screenshot taken on Fri Apr 12 22:30:44 2024 UTC)

In the screenshot, the character played by Zelenskyy, Vasyl Holoborodko, appears in custody, posing for a mug shot. He is holding a sign with the number 003856 under his name, written as Holoborodko V.P., according to a translation by a Ukrainian-speaking member of the Lead Stories team. The character is standing in front of a height chart.

The logo of the production company for the show, Kvartal 95, is clearly visible in the top right corner of the screenshot on X. Zelenskyy co-founded Kvartal 95, as reported on IMDB.com.

A search of Tucker Carlson's X account, which streams his show "Tucker on X," led to no evidence that the online talk-show host ever posted a video of Zelenskyy "being captured":

Screen Shot 2024-04-12 at 3.47.04 PM.png

(Source: X screenshot taken on Fri Apr 12 22:35:16 2024 UTC)

Carlson attracted international controversy for his February 2024 interview with Putin, who launched Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

In April 2024, AFP Fact Check reviewed the same claim about Carlson supposedly announcing Russia's capture of Zelenskyy.

Other Lead Stories fact checks of claims about Zelenskyy can be found here. Our fact checks of claims about the war in Ukraine can be found here.

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  Alexis Tereszcuk

Alexis Tereszcuk is a writer and fact checker at Lead Stories and an award-winning journalist who spent over a decade breaking hard news and celebrity scoop with RadarOnline and Us Weekly.

As the Entertainment Editor, she investigated Hollywood stories and conducted interviews with A-list celebrities and reality stars.  

Alexis’ crime reporting earned her spots as a contributor on the Nancy Grace show, CNN, Fox News and Entertainment Tonight, among others.

Read more about or contact Alexis Tereszcuk

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