FACT CHECK: Was Canadian Sniper ‘Wali’ Killed In Mariupol In March?
A post shared on Facebook claims Canadian sniper “Wali” was killed in Mariupol, Ukraine by Russian special forces.
There is no evidence Wali died in Mariupol. He has given several interviews since his alleged death.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said over 16,000 foreign volunteers have signed up to join Ukraine’s fight against Russia, according to the Military Times. One such foreign fighter who traveled to Ukraine to join the fight is a Canadian sniper known as “Wali,” who previously fought in Iraq, CBC reported.
A March 15 Facebook post claims he was killed by Russian special forces in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol just “20 minutes after going into action.” The post includes several images of Wali.
There is no evidence that Wali died in Mariupol. He has given interviews to Canadian news outlets, such as Global News and CBC, since his alleged death to discuss the rumor. Wali told CBC that he had been fighting on the front lines in Kyiv, not Mariupol.
“I was the last person to learn the news that I was dead,” Wali told Global News in a March 22 interview. The rumors of his death have circulated on the Russian social media website VKontakte, according to CBC.
Marcus Kolga, a senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, told Check Your Fact in a phone interview that “clearly Wali is not dead.” (RELATED: Does This Footage Show Destruction In Ukraine?)
“Posts appeared on VKontakte, a Russian social media platform, that suggested that Wali had been killed,” said Kolga. “It was not long after that, a well-known Russian media outlet Pravda -the Communist Party’s primary voice since the Soviet era– produced a story suggesting that Wali had been killed 20 minutes after arriving in Ukraine by Russian special forces.” Kolga noted it was a “completely fabricated story.”
Canada has since barred its soldiers from joining the foreign legion in Ukraine, The Guardian reported.