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28 Dec, 2022 13:14

Ukrainian MP fakes ‘victim’ of Russian strike

Lesia Vasilenko posted a photo of a boy from a 2013 book cover
Ukrainian MP fakes ‘victim’ of Russian strike

A Ukrainian lawmaker has shared a fake photo and a purported story of “Marc, 8 yo” with her 330,000 followers on her English-language Twitter feed on Tuesday. Lesia Vasilenko, a Ukrainian MP from the Golos (Voice) Party, who has a background in law and human rights campaigning, posted a photo of a sad-looking, dirt-covered boy, claiming that he is an eight-year-old named Mark, who “just survived” a Russian artillery strike.

The photo is nowhere close to being new and does not appear to have any relation to Ukraine. The 2013 Spanish-language edition of the book 'The Misremembered Man' by Irish novelist Christina McKenna featured the very same picture on the cover, skeptics pointed out. At the time of writing, the tweet remained live, though Twitter had added a notice about its questionable veracity.

The Ukrainian MP, who claims that she studied at University College London, is regularly invited by leading Western media, such as France’s BFM TV or the BBC, to comment on Ukrainian affairs.

The latest UN casualty report for Ukraine on Tuesday said that its mission had recorded 429 deaths of children since hostilities with Russia began in late February. A watchdog operating in Russia’s Donetsk and Lugansk people's republics reported earlier this month that 154 minors had been killed by strikes it attributed to Ukrainian troops during roughly the same timeframe. The UN considers Donbass a part of Ukraine and counts civilian deaths taking place there as Ukrainian.

The UN estimates that between 2014, when Kiev deployed troops against the rebellious republics in Donbass following an armed coup, and the beginning of Russia’s operation this year, some 150 children were killed in the region.