FACT CHECK: Is Kyrylo Budanov Dead?

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

A post shared on Twitter claims Ukrainian intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov was killed in May 2023.

Verdict: False

Budanov is alive and has given video interviews to media outlets.

Fact Check:

Social media users have been sharing claims that Budanov, Ukraine’s top intelligence chief, had been killed by a Russian missile strike. This particular post claims that Budanov died in a Russian missile strike in May alongside agents of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

These claims are false. Budanov met with the Japanese ambassador to Ukraine June 20, with images showing him posing with the delegation, according to Ukrainska Pravda. He also told the Kyiv Post, in response to claims that he had died, that “Now in Ukraine, a special detachment of immortal commanders is being created – Valery Zaluzhny, myself, Stepan Bandera, Symon Petliura, Ivan Mazepa.”

He also appeared in multiple videos, including an interview with a Ukrainian outlet, according to Wall Street Journal chief foreign affairs correspondent Yaroslav Trofimov. (RELATED: Video Claims Ukraine Has Wiped Out Russian Army)

BBC Verify reporter Shayan Sardarizadeh said on Twitter that the videos showing Budanov were not deepfakes.

“Guy who checks and verifies online content for a living here. That’s not a deepfake. It’s a genuine video of Ukraine’s military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov, who pro-Kremlin accounts falsely claim has been killed in a Russian strike, looking alive and well,” Sardarizadeh tweeted.

The Economist published an article about Budanov June 20. The outlet also debunked claims about Budanov being killed, including that Budanov had died in a coma in Germany.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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