FACT CHECK: Does This Image Show Ukrainian Christians Praying In February 2022?

Trevor Schakohl | Legal Reporter

A photo shared on Facebook purportedly shows Christians in Kyiv, Ukraine praying outdoors amid the current Ukraine-Russia crisis.

Verdict: Misleading

While the photo does show Ukrainians praying, the image is from 2019 and was not taken in Kyiv. The image has nothing to do with the current situation in the country.

Fact Check:

Russian President Vladimir Putin officially recognized separatist areas in eastern Ukraine as independent on Monday, according to the Associated Press. Putin ordered Russian troops to enter those regions for “peacekeeping” hours later, according to CNN.

The Facebook post calls for people to “Pray for Ukraine,” and includes a photo of people gathered on their knees in a snowy area in prayer. “This weekend, Ukrainian Christians gathered to pray – outdoors, in the snow – as they looked at the skyline of their capital, Kyiv,” the post’s caption reads, in part.

However, the photo was not taken in Kyiv and predates the current Ukraine-Russia conflict. The image first appeared in a September 2019 article published by the International Mission Board (IMB), a U.S.-based Baptist Christian organization. (RELATED: Did CNN Air This Chyron About Putin Waiting To Invade Ukraine Until Biden Sends Weapons ‘For Russia To Capture’?)

The article identified the people in the picture as Ukrainians praying in Kharkiv, a city in northeast Ukraine, not in Kyiv. The same buildings visible in the photo can be seen in a Google Maps street view of the location from June 2015. The IMB article states the tradition of praying outside began in March 2014 amid separatist violence in the region.

This is not the first time a religious gathering in the country has been used to spread misinformation. Check Your Fact recently corrected an image that claimed to show “hundreds of thousands” of Christians gathering in Ukraine in 2022 to preach the Gospel but actually showed Christians gathered in Ukraine in 2017 to hear a motivational speaker.

Update: Russian forces invaded Ukraine on Thursday, according to Reuters. A group of people was filmed praying outdoors in Kharkiv’s town square shortly after the invasion began, CNN reported. 

Trevor Schakohl

Legal Reporter
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