FACT CHECK: Does This Image Show Ukrainian Children Lined Up In A Nazi Formation?

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook allegedly shows Ukrainian school children lined up in the shape of a swastika.

Verdict: False

The image was taken in Russia in 2016 and shows individuals celebrating the 55th anniversary of Soviet astronaut Yuri Gagarin’s voyage to space.

Fact Check: 

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation” Feb. 24 directed at the “demilitarization and denazification” of Ukraine, according to The New York Times. Scholars have refuted Putin’s claim that Ukraine was in need of “denazification,” an allegation that sparked international backlash for being “offensive and factually wrong,” NPR reported.

An image shared on Facebook seemingly calls this understanding into question. It shows what appears to be a group of people, some holding balloons, formed into the shape of a swastika. “This is Lviv,” reads part of the post. “Just schoolchildren. Just celebrated Hitler’s birthday 20 April, In Ukraine, in which, as you know, there is no Nazism.” Lviv is a city in western Ukraine. (RELATED: Does This Image Show A Genuine Time Magazine Cover Related To The Invasion Of Ukraine?)

This claim is false. A reverse image search revealed the same photo was published by the Russian-language news outlet Lenta.ru in 2019, years before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The article explains the photo shows a flash mob that had gathered in the Kemerovo region of Russia in 2016 to celebrate the 55th anniversary of Soviet astronaut Yuri Gagarin’s 1961 voyage to space. The image shows the group forming the number 55, according to the outlet. The article also mentions that Russian police later mistook the formation for a swastika.

A video of the 2016 event was shared on YouTube at the time by the Russian news outlet GTRK Penza. The footage shows the group had formed the number 55, not a swastika.

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter
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