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A look at what didn’t happen this week

A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. None of these are legitimate, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked them out. Here are the facts:

Posts spread fictional tale of ‘Ukrainian beauty’ who blew up 52 tanks

CLAIM: Photo of woman in a military uniform shows “Ukrainian beauty” who “blew up 52 invading Russian tanks.”

THE FACTS: The woman in the photo is a military doctor, not a combat soldier, according to news reports, posts on her Facebook account and messages from her mother. A misrepresented photo of a trauma doctor in Ukraine is the latest example of false propaganda and disinformation that have overwhelmed social media in response to Russia’s war on Ukraine over the past seven weeks. The widely-shared photo showed a young woman in a camouflage jacket decorated with medals and pins, including one with a Ukrainian flag. Twitter posts touted her as a combat hero, responsible for destroying Russian military vehicles. “This Ukrainian beauty blew up 52 invading Russian tanks,” read one tweet that was shared more than 9,000 times. “Retweet if you think she’s a HERO,” another Twitter user added. But the information is incorrect. A reverse-image search found the photo of the Ukrainian woman, Maj. Victoria Palamarchuk, appeared in an article about her work as a military doctor. The article was published in March 2021 by ArmyInform, an information agency of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense. The article described Palamarchuk as a traumatologist who began working for the Ukrainian military in 2014. ArmyInform said in 2021 that she was a senior resident of the traumatology department who operated on patients with gunshot wounds, performed amputations and carried out other surgeries at a military medical clinic in the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro. The Associated Press used Facebook to locate Ella Palamarchuk’s mother, Tatyana Palamarchuk, who confirmed the claims she blew up 52 tanks were false. “About tanks – it’s a fake! Victoria is a military doctor, trauma surgeon,” the elder Palamarchuk wrote in a Facebook message in Ukrainian. “She does not need false merits. She has something to be proud of and rightly so.” Tatyana Palamarchuk said her daughter de ella was too busy with work to respond to the false claim, but she shared her daughter’s Facebook account de ella, which corroborated her residence de ella in Dnipro and her work de ella as a trauma doctor. When Palamarchuk learned about the false claims of her spreading about her, she reported them to Ukraine’s state security service, the SBU, her mother said. A wider internet search found Palamarchuk was featured in other media reports, including various interviews published on YouTube and a feature story on her participation in a military motorcycle club.

— Associated Press writers Ali Swenson in New York contributed this report with additional reporting from Arijeta Lajka in New York.


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