The claim: Pentagon officials said Volodymyr Zelenskyy and George Soros are cousins
American billionaire George Soros, who founded the Open Society Foundations to support democracies around the world, it is a frequent target of false claims online. Social media users now claim that he is related to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
“Volodymyr Zelensky (sic) is a cousin of George Soros. Pentagon officials say,” reads the text.
The Facebook post generated more than 300 interactions in less than a week, and the tweet racked up more than 4,000 interactions. Similar posts have generated hundreds of interactions on Facebook Y Twitter.
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But a Defense Department spokesman said the claim is false. Pentagon officials have not said that Zelenskyy and Soros are cousins, like other independent fact-checking organizations have reported.
USA TODAY reached out to social media users who shared the claim for comment.
Pentagon refutes claim
The alleged statement cited in the Facebook post does not exist, according to a statement the Pentagon issued to USA TODAY.
False claims about Soros and Ukraine have already surfaced.
The East StratCom task force, part of the European External Action Service, published a disinformation report in 2020 on false accusations that Ukraine’s government is secretly controlled by Soros. When asked in 2020 about claims of a “Soros-installed government,” Zelenskyy told Interfax-Ukrainea Ukrainian news agency, with which he was “not familiar” nor had he met Soros.
Soros has long been a target of conspiracy theorists.
Our rating: False
Based on our research, we rate as FALSE the claim that Pentagon officials said that Zelenskyy and Soros are cousins. There is no evidence to support this claim, and the Pentagon said it did not issue such a statement. Zelenskyy has previously said that he is not familiar with Soros.
Our data verification sources:
- Department of Defense, April 8, Email exchange with USA TODAY
- Jonathan Birchall, April 8, Email exchange with USA TODAY
- PolitiFact, April 7, No, Zelenskyy and Soros are not cousins.
- Department of Defense, accessed April 8, News
- Department of Defense, accessed April 8, media videos
- Interfax-Ukraine, February 11, 2020, Zelensky: “Power is an opportunity. I have an opportunity to help.”
- East StratCom Task Force, August 14, 2020, DISINFO: ZELENSKY IS A “SOROSONYSH”, MORE THAN 90% OF UKRAINIAN AUTHORITIES COME FROM SOROS’ “GUARNERO”
- Reuters, April 7, Fact Check: The Pentagon Didn’t Say Volodymyr Zelenskiy Is George Soros’s Cousin
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