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  • Active propaganda campaign on the internet and Ukraine's reaction
  • Bugatti denies that the First Lady of Ukraine bought their car
  • Motives behind the propaganda
Misinformation spread on the internet that the first lady of Ukraine bought a supercar. Tim Meyer/Unsplash

Active propaganda campaign on the internet and Ukraine's reaction

Just a few days ago, the internet and social media platforms were buzzing with reports claiming that Ukraine's First Lady, Olena Zelenska, had recently purchased a new Bugatti Tourbillon valued at 4.5 million euros. Allegedly, this extravagant acquisition occurred during a private presentation in France, specially organized for the Ukrainian delegation[1].

Ukraine promptly responded to these reports, which were swiftly refuted by the Centre for Combating Disinformation and vigilant internet users who identified numerous discrepancies.

Investigations revealed that the Verite Cachee news website, operational for only a week, was registered specifically for disseminating this fabrication. Moreover, all articles published on the site glorified authorities and featured comments purportedly from Russian officials or well-known propagandists[2].

The fabricated narrative included an alleged witness, Jacques Bertin, supposedly an employee at a Bugatti dealership. Bertin claimed on Instagram to have attended a non-existent private presentation and meeting with a Ukrainian woman. Observant users noted Bertin's poor French skills and speculated that the video might have been generated using artificial intelligence.

By the way, the man's personal account contains only 4 photos, which were posted a few days ago. Interestingly, the location of his account is Turkey.

Fake account. Screenshot
Fake account. Screenshot

Further evidence emerged indicating tampering. For instance, the website displayed guidelines for editors or artificial intelligence, alongside a French text declaring:

"Here are some context notes. Republicans, Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, and Russia are portrayed positively, whereas Democrats, Joe Biden, the Ukraine conflict, big business, and the pharmaceutical industry are portrayed negatively."

Olena Zelenska herself has not yet commented on the spreading of false information about herself.

Bugatti denies that the First Lady of Ukraine bought their car

Bugatti Paris has categorically denied reports of Olena Zelenska, wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, purchasing their Bugatti Tourbillon, one of the world's most expensive sports cars. The company issued a statement via its Instagram account[3].

On July 1, Vérité Сachée cited an alleged Bugatti dealership employee in Paris claiming that Olena Zelenska had become the first owner of a new Bugatti Tourbillon.

According to Vérité Сachée, the Zelenskyy family had been presented with the car earlier, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky himself in attendance. However, the official car presentation occurred two weeks later, the newspaper reported.

As proof, Vérité Сachée released a video featuring a man who identified himself as a Bugatti employee confirming the transaction. The publication also attached a copy of the car invoice.

Bugatti Tourbillon fake purchase invoice. Screenshot
Bugatti Tourbillon fake purchase invoice. Screenshot

Bugatti dismissed the video's participant as an "imaginary seller," dismissing the document as "false," with errors in the car's value and lacking necessary legal details.

Additionally, the company emphasized that it would never authorize such an invoice's publication.

"The Car Lovers Group has taken legal action against these facts, filing a criminal complaint for forgery, use of forgery, identity theft, and defamation," Bugatti Paris stated in a press release.

The Representation's press office added, "We strongly condemn this disinformation campaign". However, it is possible that the public outcry regarding the car spurred a swift denial of its purchase. This possibility cannot be ruled out, especially in these tumultuous times...

Motives behind the propaganda

The perpetrators probably sought to discredit the Zelenskyy family during the ongoing war.

The orchestrators may have been Russians, although those unsympathetic towards Zelenskyy, who remains in office despite his term ending on May 21, could have participated for their own amusement.

This information assault underscores how easy it is today to fabricate "documents" and videos featuring fictitious sellers, which quickly gain traction online. Despite official rebuttals, there will inevitably be individuals who continue to believe such misinformation, especially since luxury cars belonging to Ukrainians have been regularly spotted in Europe since the war began.

One can argue that similar information attacks will only proliferate. Discrediting one country may lead to diminished support from foreign partners and domestic citizens alike. And finally, in these uncertain times, who really knows the truth...?