The Berlin graffiti of the “cannibal” Zelensky does not exist

Illustration, Raskrinkavanje

Original article (in Bosnian) was published on 29/09/2023; Author: Marija Manojlović

A screenshot featuring a fictional Deutsche Welle article about graffiti in Berlin is being shared on social networks, where Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is presented as a cannibal. Such graffiti does not exist.

On September 14, 2023, on the social network X (formerly Twitter), a screenshot of an article appeared that was allegedly published on Deutsche Welle’s Instagram account with a graffiti image of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “eating” the hand of a Ukrainian soldier. Cannibal (Kannibale) is written on the graffiti in German. The screenshot includes text in English stating the following: “Germany: Scandalous graffiti in Berlin”, and was published with a description that states:

Someone in Berlin painted graffiti of Zelensky as a cannibal eating his soldiers.

The Berlin police are looking for the author of the mural with the Green Cannibal. The Führer should be represented ike this.

The same photo was published on September 20 by another user of this social network with a similar description.

What are the facts?

Deutsche Welle did not publish the story about the graffiti with the “cannibal” Zelensky. It is a fabricated screenshot that was shared outside of our speaking area. Reuters, Lead stories, Myth Detector and AFP Faktencheck wrote about this. In addition to the fact that the mentioned media did not report on this, there is no evidence that such graffiti even existed in Berlin.

The aforementioned fact-checking platforms have already established that the building on which the graffiti was allegedly painted is not in Berlin at all, but in Warsaw, at 4 Ignacego Potockiego Street.

In its analysis, the Lead Stories platform pointed out that some details on the fake screenshot were additionally edited, for example, street name signs and numbers were removed, and the Polish flag was replaced by a German one.

Katharina Waack, a spokeswoman for the Berlin police, confirmed to Reuters on September 19 that the police had not received any report of the graffiti in Berlin and that no investigation had been launched. Therefore, the Berlin police are not looking for the author of the graffiti, as claimed in the analyzed posts.

The image of a street with a building in Warsaw on Google Maps was made in 2021. AFP Faktencheck visited this location and photographed the building on September 25. At that moment, it was in the phase of reconstruction. Several sources confirmed to this platform that the Zelensky graffiti never existed on a building in Warsaw.

“Scaffolding on the building was set up on September 18 to repair the balconies and paint the building”, the technical department of the SBM Powiśle housing cooperative, responsible for the building, told AFP.

“There was no graffiti before”. Building tenant Anna Czyz also said about the photos: “Yes, that’s our building, I recognize it. We have never had such graffiti on the facade”.

An employee of the kiosk on the ground floor confirmed this, and another resident explained: “Every day I’m here, I would have seen it”.

Screenshot, AFP Faktencheck

Reuters states that it is not possible to find evidence on the Internet that this kind of graffiti was ever painted in Warsaw on the building featured in the photo.

With a Google search, we were unable to find that Deutsche Welle had published a story in English with the title as seen in the alleged screenshot. They confirmed to Reuters that it never existed.

 “No, DW did not publish such an image and Instagram story”, Fabian Roesel, corporate communications editor at Deutsche Welle, said in an email, nor was “any text on this topic published on other DW platforms or as an article”.

“It’s a fake screenshot, as you can tell from the font and the judgmental phrasing”, Roesel said.

Users of social networks outside our area shared a photo of a similar graffiti in which Zelensky was shown eating the leg of a Ukrainian soldier. In this case, it was claimed to have been painted in Paris and reported by the French weekly Le Point. AFP Factual and Les Observateurs, among others, wrote that the graffiti was fake and was never reported by Le Point.

Given the facts, we evaluate the first publication of a screenshot featuring a fictional article about the graffiti of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as fake news. Other posts are rated as the distribution of fake news.