FACT CHECK: Video Claims To Show BBC/Bellingcat Report About Valerii Zalzuhny Receiving $53 Million

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

A video shared on X claims that Bellingcat and BBC News reported that former Ukrainian general Valery Zaluzhny was paid $53 million to stay out of Ukrainian politics.

Verdict: False

The video is fake, according to the outlets alleged to have reported on this claim.

Fact Check:

Zaluzhny was appointed by Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy as ambassador to the United Kingdom, according to The New York Times. Zaluzhny was the Ukrainian military’s top general until he was removed by Zelenskyy earlier this year, the outlet reported.

Social media users are claiming to show a joint BBC video about a Bellingcat report that found Zaluzhny was given $53 million to stay out of Ukrainian politics.

“The BBC citing Bellingcat is suggesting #Zaluzhny was paid $53 million to stay away from Ukrainian politics,” one user wrote.

This claim is false. Check Your Fact reviewed BBC and Bellingcat’s social media accounts and did not find the alleged video. It also does not appear on the Bellingcat or BBC News websites.

Representatives from these outlets also refuted the claims. Eliot Higgins, co-founder and creative director of Bellingcat, denied the claim in a March 9 tweet. (RELATED: Claim That U.S. Marines Uncovered CBP Border Conspiracy Is Satirical)

“Another fake Bellingcat-BBC video has emerged. I’m truly confused about who this is actually for, none of these get any traction, even in the rabidly pro-Russian circles,” Higgins tweeted.

BBC Verify Shayan Sardarizadeh also debunked the claim in a March 10 tweet.

“Yet another fake video attributed to BBC News and Bellingcat is being shared by pro-Kremlin users. It falsely claims Ukraine’s Valerii Zaluzhnyi received a $53m severance pay to leave the armed forces and become UK ambassador, all part of a UK plot to protect Zelensky,” Sardarizadeh tweeted.

Investigative reporter and former Bellingcat Russia lead investigator Christov Grozev, who is mentioned in the fake video, said in a March 9 tweet that the video came from Russian intelligence.

“Russian intelligence continue producing cheap-fakes (in addition to deep-fakes) impersonating legitimate media. This time, a poorly scripted “BBC” video story in Kremlish, alleging that I discovered Zaluzhny got a bribe. I don’t know who this is meant for, it’s so bad,” Grozev tweeted.

Fake Bellingcat and BBC videos are not new. Check Your Fact recently debunked a video claiming to show a BBC and Bellingcat video about a Ukrainian official being under investigation for sending weapons to Hamas.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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