Zelenskyy belly dancing video is a deepfake

5 January 2024
What was claimed

A video shows Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy belly dancing at an event.

Our verdict

The footage is not genuine. It has been digitally altered, and President Zelenskyy’s face has been imposed onto the dancer’s using deepfake techniques.

A video circulating on social media platforms appears to show the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy belly dancing at an 18th birthday party.

But although the footage looks realistic, it has been modified using artificial intelligence (AI) tools to impose President Zelenskyy’s face onto the dancer’s to create a deepfake.

The video, which has been shared on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), and TikTok allegedly shows President Zelenskyy dancing in a red, white and black outfit at an event, with balloons in the background in the shape of the numbers ‘18’.

However, a clip of the same dancer at an identical event, which was shared on Instagram in February 2022, does not feature the Ukrainian leader.

Additionally there are clues that the footage now being shared has been digitally altered. When the video is slowed down, there appear to be glitches in the face of the dancer during playback.

Around three seconds in, the face blends into the texture of the wall behind, leaving a cut-out of what is purported to be President Zelenskky’s cheek, and when seen in profile at around 17 seconds the face becomes distorted.

Before becoming the Ukrainian leader, President Zelenskyy had been a comic actor and won his country’s version of Dancing With The Stars in 2006, and was part of a video spoofing a Ukrainian boy band music video. However, there is no evidence that this video of him dancing is genuine.

We’ve written about other examples of video and audio clips that Full Fact has found no evidence are real, such as footage supposedly showing Keir Starmer promoting an investment scheme and an audio fake of Sadiq Khan appearing to call for ‘Remembrance weekend’ to be postponed. 

Increasingly realistic deepfakes—where AI tools are used to mimic the face or voice of a public figure—and improving technology are making it ever harder to tell whether these kinds of videos are real, but there are often clues that they may be altered or faked. 

If you suspect that something online might have been digitally altered in this way, our guide to deepfake video and AI audio provides practical tools to tell whether it is genuine.

We have fact checked misinformation about President Zelenskyy previously, including that Polish media published footage of his ‘body double’ and that his office was blown up by Russian forces.

Image courtesy of President of Ukraine

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