Ukrainian president not featured on April 25 Time magazine
CLAIM: Time magazine published a cover this month featuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with the text, “Ladimir Elensky refused to use the letters ‘V’ and ‘Z’ in his name and surname. As a token of support our office publishes this news piece without the letters ‘V’ and ‘Z.’”
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Time magazine never ran this cover, and Zelenskyy has not made any public statements suggesting he has changed the spelling of his name. The cover has been fabricated using a photo from the Ukrainian president’s office website and adding the text.
THE FACTS: A fake cover of the U.S.-based Time magazine has emerged online with claims in English and Russian purporting it shows an authentic edition from this month that highlighted Zelenskyy.
The fabricated image shows Zelenskyy sitting in a green armchair with his arms folded in front of him. A heading overlaid on the image identifies the leader as “Ladimir Elensky” and says the Ukrainian president is no longer using the letters “V” or “Z” in his name.
The letters “V” and “Z,” and their versions in Cyrillic script, have been used by some as symbols of support for the Russian military.
A Facebook user shared the fake Time cover on Tuesday with the caption, “the era of Gesture politics.” And a popular Twitter post also shared the image, pointing out that the “M” in Time’s logo was placed in a way that looked like horns on Zelenskyy’s head. The tweet was shared hundreds of times and received more than 1,000 likes.
Neither post, nor dozens of others, included any indication the image was doctored.
The cover is fake, and claims that Zelenskyy has changed the spelling of his name, are false.
Time confirmed in a statement to The Associated Press that the image does not show an authentic cover.
The fake cover listed the edition dates as April 25 to May 2, but Time magazine’s cover archive shows no such cover for that period. The most recent edition of Time, dated April 25, featured Shohei Ohtani, a Japanese major league baseball player for the Los Angeles Angels.
The photo of Zelenskyy in the green chair can be found on Ukraine’s presidential office website. The photo has been posted with news releases from the office this month.
There is also no record that Zelenskyy has made any public comments — on social media, in news releases or to credible news outlets — that he has changed the spelling of his name or plans to change it.
His office’s website has continued to spell his name as “Volodymyr Zelenskyy” on all references.
An April interview with Zelenskyy conducted by the AP made no change in spelling, nor did Zelenskyy indicate he was removing letters from his name.
This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.