FACT CHECK: Did Volodymyr Zelenskyy Endorse Drug Use In An Interview?

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

A video shared on Facebook claims to show Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy endorsing drug use in an interview.

Verdict: False

The captions of the interview have been altered. While Zelenskyy was asked about cocaine in the interview, he denied ever using it.

Fact Check: 

Zelenskyy recently received the John F. Kennedy award for defending democracy for his leadership of Ukraine during Russia’s invasion of the country, according to the Associated Press. The Ukrainian leader has warned that his country will need “hundreds of billions” to rebuild infrastructure, NBC News reported.

An April 18 Facebook video allegedly shows Zelenskyy admitting to using drugs and endorsing drug use, particularly cocaine, in an interview. “This is energy for the whole day. At 7 a.m, I got up. Took a walk with the dog. And I do snort drugs,” Zelenskyy allegedly said, according to the video’s English captions.

The captions are incorrect. A reverse image search revealed the video stems from an interview Zelesnkyy did with Ukrainian news outlet Ukrayinska Pravda during the 2019 presidential election in Ukraine. The interviewer asked a question that touched on allegations from political circles that the then-candidate was “sitting on coke.”

No, I’m sitting on a white one, but on a chair. It’s not coke,” Zelenskyy said at the time, according to a translation of the interview. The then-presidential candidate then joked that, while he doesn’t do drugs, he sniffs coffee “because I’m a coffee addict.”

Ukrayinska Pravda wrote a follow-up article in April 2019 regarding the falsely-captioned video, claiming it “was edited and completely taken out of the context.” The outlet then published a snippet of the relevant conversation between the interviewer and Zelenskyy on YouTube, along with the full interview.

Russian and Georgian social media users have recently shared the video as the conflict in Ukraine continues, though the video also circulated on Russian social media sites in 2019, according to Myth Detector. Zelenskyy took at least one drug test during the 2019 presidential campaign, Reuters reported.

Zelesnkyy has been the target of misinformation since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In March, Check Your Fact debunked a fabricated photo of him holding a soccer jersey with a swastika on it.

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter
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