FACT CHECK: Does This Image Show A Ukrainian Woman In 2022?
An image shared on Facebook allegedly shows a Ukrainian woman holding an assault rifle while riding the bus in 2022.
The image, taken in March 2020, was first posted by a Russian social media account. The photo has nothing to do with the current Russia-Ukraine crisis.
After Russia announced that it was withdrawing some troops from the Ukrainian border Feb. 15, several North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries accused Russia of lying about the alleged pullback, according to The New York Times. Ukraine officials have also recently accused pro-Russia rebels of attacking a village near the border as a “pretext for an invasion,” CNBC reported. President Joe Biden has warned Russia may invade Ukraine “in the next several days,” according to ABC News.
A viral image shared on Facebook shows a screen grab of a tweet that includes a photo of a woman sitting on a bus holding an assault rifle in one hand and her phone in the other. The Facebook post claims the photo had been taken on Feb. 12 in Ukraine.
“Photo of the Day. Life in Ukraine, now,” reads the text on the image. (RELATED: Did Joe Biden Say, ‘Putin Should Resign And Give Way To Younger Politicians’?)
The image first appeared in 2020 and was taken in Russia. A reverse image search revealed the photo was shared on Reddit in a Mar. 31, 2020 post with the title, “Everything is fine. This is Russia.” The photo was also uploaded to a different subreddit, R/mildlyinteresting, where it was captioned, “Girl in Belarus on a train with a ak.”
However, the earliest-known iteration appears to be a March 27, 2020, Instagram post from a Russian Instagram account belonging to Ekaterina Gladkikh. The image’s caption, written in Russian, roughly translates to “I am going shooting with an AK-47, your enemies will sympathize.”
The beige hat and black winter coat can be seen on other Instagram posts featuring Gladkikh, such as one from April 2020. Some of the Instagram posts list Gladkikh’s location as Novosibirsk, Russia, which is located in the western Siberian region of Russia.
“I live in Russia, not in Ukraine,” Gladkikh told the Associated Press in regards to the use of her photo. Gladkikh added that she had been returning from a photoshoot when the picture was taken, according to the outlet.