An image circulating online purports to show a CNN tweet quoting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky saying he plans to change his war-torn nation’s demographics through mass immigration. But the supposed screenshot is fabricated; the global news network published no such post, a spokesperson confirmed to AFP.
“Ukrainian President Zelensky plans on using mass immigration to fix the country’s demographics issues. ‘We will become a new diverse and multicultural nation that will be the model state for the rest of Europe,'” the supposed CNN tweet says.
The image spread across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other platforms in late April 2023. Former US Senate candidate Lauren Witzke, a far-right activist who has promoted the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory, amplified the purported post.
“Zelensky is leading Ukranian Chrstian (sic) men to slaughter and then replacing them with immigrants,” Witzke said in an April 27 tweet.
The posts echo the racist “great replacement” theory, a belief that Western elites are using immigration and other means to “replace” people of European descent with non-white populations. Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson often promoted the conspiracy theory, which has been connected to several mass shootings and other acts of hate.
“The image is fabricated and not a real post by CNN,” said Emily Kuhn, vice president of CNN communications, in a May 1 email.
The only CNN tweets mentioning Zelensky from around the time the fake screenshot spread (archived here) referenced the Ukrainian leader’s call with Chinese President Xi Jinping and a prank targeting US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. The network shared the same Zelensky photo in February and March, but neither post mentioned demographic change.
No news reports have quoted Zelensky making the comments shared online.