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The caricature with Zelensky on the gallows was created in The Hague, and the author is a Pole? Not true

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Volodymyr Zelensky hanging on the gallows – the caricature of the Ukrainian president was supposed to be created in The Hague, and her photo is circulating in social media. Allegedly, its author is a Pole living in the Netherlands. However, such graffiti has never been created, and photos with it are fake news of Russian propaganda.

Volodymyr Zelensky hanged on the gallows – photo of such a caricature appeared on social media. The caricature was made on the pavement as a three-dimensional, multi-color image – a 3D mural or 3D graffiti on a flat surface. The “work” was allegedly created in The Hague, Netherlands. Beside him stands a hooded man in a tracksuit. He shows the gesture of horns or mano cornuta (it. horned hand), popular in the metal subculture. Only part of his face is visible – his mouth and nose. There are two items next to his legs – probably chalk, and by his left leg – a container with paint. This suggests that he has just finished work on the caricature. The photo looks like it was taken in a residential area – there are buildings with balconies around, as well as trees and bushes.

Over a million views

On Twitter, we found a photo on a very popular, English-speaking one account disseminating, among other things, anti-Ukrainian narratives. The account has almost 250 thousand. followers and millions of reach. The photo was published on June 27 with the English comment: “The work of Polish artists in The Hague”. The post has 1.3 million views and over 14,000 views. likes.

Such a caricature was to appear in The HagueTwitter

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The photo quickly found its way to one of the Polish-language accounts with a similar comment: “The author of this work is a Pole living in the Netherlands.” The post has less than 47,000 views. views Beneath it, among many critical comments of Polish Internet users, we also found such praises of graffiti and its author: “I guitar”; “Zuch”, “Master of champions”; “Got talent”; “He did it nicely”; “Very nice work.” The user of the Polish account who posted this photo, when asked for a link to the source, replied: “You have several works of this boy in the thread. He runs Instagram with these works. Just look for information.”

The photo was also circulated by Russian accounts on Twitter and Facebook with the comment: “Zełenski hanged in The Hague! Polish artists presented a three-dimensional drawing with a bloody clown.”

Another “works” from a mysterious account

IN January 2023 we have already described similar photos with caricatures of Zelensky, which were very popular on social media and were to appear in Warsaw, Paris, Madrid, London, Berlin and New York. Zelensky was portrayed as a locust, a poop, or a money-consuming hole.

What all the caricatures had in common was that they were never actually made. They were the result of the work of a computer graphic designer, who applied them to previously taken photos. In every city, the creation of the caricatures was denied by the city authorities, residents, or nearby vendors. In addition, street art experts, after we showed them the photos, had no doubt that the photos had been altered.

We then established that the source of the caricatures defaming Volodymyr Zelensky was the Instagram profile @typicaloptical. There is no information about who runs it. Its creators present themselves as an as yet unknown artistic group from Poland. In his description there is a link to a Telegram profile, assumed due to Instagram deleting posts. Indeed, the group is not known among street art artists. There is no credible source on the internet about it. Therefore, it is not known who its members are.

The Instagram account was created in November 2022, and since then it has been posting photos taken in various European cities, but also in New York. Each clearly showed a three-dimensional, multicolored painting that looked as if it had been painted on the pavement, purporting to depict the exaggerated, deformed face of the Ukrainian president. There was always a hooded figure kneeling or bending next to it, whose face was never seen. She was holding chalk in her hand as if she had just finished writing. There were usually chalk or cans of paint next to it. Some of the photos show passers-by looking at this figure, which would prove that the murals really exist.

Russian media: Poles hanged Zelensky in The Hague

The pattern of dissemination of subsequent caricatures from the turn of 2022 and 2023 in the network was similar: first, a photo with a caricature appeared on the Instagram profile we have already described. From there, it was transferred to other social media accounts, and then published as authentic by Russian propaganda portals, citing social media. And either they did not inform about the authorship of the works at all – which suggested that they were the actions of the inhabitants of the given cities – or they wrote that they were the works of a Polish artistic group.

For example: a photo of alleged 3D graffiti in Warsaw met with considerable interest in the Russian network. Not only Russian news agencies – such as Riafan.ru or Ukraina.ru – wrote about him, but also one of the most famous Russian propagandists, Vladimir Soloviev. Also, the alleged photo from Paris appeared in several Russian news sites. They were described, among others, on their Facebook profiles by the portals RT.com (formerly Russia Today), Viesti.ru, as well as the website of the daily “Izvestia”. “European donors are increasingly dissatisfied with the idea of ​​​​supporting Ukraine. Citizens blame the deterioration of their living standards on their governments, which spend large sums of money to maintain the Kiev regime,” wrote the Russian news agency RIA FAN at the time.

False information from the Izvestia website about the alleged caricature on the street of Paris Iz.ru

The same pattern can now be seen in the photo of the alleged caricature from a Dutch town. “Poles hanged Zelenskiy in The Hague” – this is the title of an article from June 27, Tsargard.tv, a portal linked to the Kremlin and Russian secret services. “Poles once again showed their attitude towards Ukraine and its authorities. Polish artists created new graffiti with unflattering content towards Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Poles depicted the Ukrainian leader hanged on the gallows on the pavement,” the portal wrote, indicating that the place of creation of the caricature was not is accidental: “This is an allusion to war crimes committed by the Ukrainian authorities” (ed. translation).

The “photo” of the caricature was also shown and briefly described by the portal Kherson-news.ru as authentic.

Russian media report about a caricature allegedly created in The Hague Kherson-news.ru/

Not the Netherlands, but Switzerland. Not The Hague, but Bülach

As we suspected, the photo of the alleged 3D mural from The Hague was published on June 26 on the Instagram account @typicaloptical already described by us, as well as on the related Telegram account.

The original photo with the caricature appeared on this Instagram and Telegram accountInstagram

The photo was reviewed by a fact-checking portal Logicallyfacts.com. After the characteristic installation visible on the back of the photo, the journalists of the portal determined that in fact the photo was not taken in The Hague, but in in Bülach, Switzerland. A city of 20,000, north of Zurich, near the border with Germany. The photo was taken on the premises of the new Glasi-Quartier housing complex. The installation visible in the photo is the work of the Swiss artist Yvan Pestalozzi. Local media informed about it at the beginning of 2023.

The author of the article talked to the inhabitants of one of the buildings visible in the photo. They informed him that the 3D graffiti of Zelensky on the gallows had never been made there. To confirm their words, they sent a current photo of this place, but it was not published by the website.

We asked the city authorities of Bülach whether a 3D mural with a caricature of Zelensky was ever created in the Glasi-Quartier. We are waiting for answer. We also asked about the second 3D mural with a caricature of the president of Ukraine, whose photo appeared earlier, on June 7, also on the @typicaloptical profile. Although it was also supposed to be built in The Hague, it – as established by one Dutch journalist – the photo was also taken in Bülach – about a kilometer from Glasi-Quartier. This time, Zelensky is depicted as an octopus holding bags of dollars in his tentacles, marked with the flags of Western countries.

A caricature that was supposed to appear earlier in BülachInstagram

The context of the photo is also important. The Hague is closely associated with the prosecution and punishment of war criminals. It is the seat of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The creators of the mural seem to refer to this – they suggest Zelensky’s responsibility for his actions during the war with Russia in Ukraine. It may also be an attempt to play with Western public opinion, part of which would like to bring Vladimir Putin to the Hague Criminal Court for starting the war and crimes committed in Ukraine.

Author:Jan Kunert, collaboration Michał Istel

Main photo source: Viktor Kovalchuk/PAP

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