Modified magazine cover featuring Ukraine’s president spreads online

Copyright AFP 2017-2022. All rights reserved.

Social media posts share an image that allegedly shows Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky riding a horse made of banknotes on the cover of Money, an American magazine. But no such cover was released; the image has been modified from a 2016 issue, according to the magazine, which is now only available online.

“Corruption is high for liberals around the world,” reads a Facebook post from June 29, 2023.

The post includes an image of an alleged cover of US financial magazine Money featuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The teaser text reads: “Learn how he launders American taxpayers’ money.”

Screenshot of a Facebook post taken on July 11, 2023

Similar posts were shared on social media, including Twitter and Telegram, with caption text in Polish, German and Spanish.

But the cover is not authentic.

In the upper left corner of the image is a reference to the Instagram account @FJBUSA, which describes itself as “satire/parody”. The account posted the cover with Zelensky on June 23, 2023.

@FJBUSA did not immediately respond to AFP’s request for comment on the origin of the photo.

A reverse image search revealed that no credible news source had shared the alleged cover. It also does not appear on Money’s website or on its Twitter or Facebook pages.

Money confirmed to AFP that it had not published the cover.

Spokeswoman Lixia Guo said in a July 8, 2023 email that “the cover has clearly been redesigned by someone.” She said the original cover, published in 2016, featured British comedian John Oliver, host of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”.

The original 2016 cover of Money magazine, transmitted to AFP by the Money press office on July 7, 2023

Guo added that the latest physical version of the magazine, which now only works online, was released in June/July 2019.

AFP has verified other false and misleading claims about the Ukrainian president and the Russian invasion here.