The following video was found on Facebook:
The post, captioned “Zelensky and cocaine” shows a video of Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky having a video call, allegedly with cocaine spilled on his desk. Interestingly, this is not the first time that Zelensky has been faced with claims that he uses cocaine.
France 24, a French state-owned international news television network posted a video looking at previous claims of the Presidents drug use, describing these rumours as dating back to 2019, during Zelensky’s presidential campaign. The video dispels these claims, showing that these videos have been doctored and the original videos were readily available on social media.
When we conducted a search we found the original video without the giant pile of cocaine posted by the YouTube channel of the Guardian a year ago, captioned “Zelensky invites Elon Musk to Ukraine after war following Starlink commitment”. For context, Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX had donated Starlink satellite terminals to Ukraine, which provided satellite internet connectivity to replace internet services destroyed during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
A recent tweet from Elliot Higgins, founder of investigative outlet Bellingcat debunked the claim as well, stating that the cocaine had been digitally added to the video in an attempt to smear Zelensky. Given the available evidence then, the claim that Zelensky was filmed with cocaine on his desk is false. The earliest version online is the one without cocaine, and the framerate is notably worse in video with cocaine in it, indicating that it’s a copy of the original footage and digitally altered.