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Fact-check: Misleading posts claim anti-Zelenskyy protests broke out in Kyiv

FILE - A rally in support of Ukrainian soldiers from the Azov Regiment who were captured by Russia in May after the fall of Mariupol in 2022
FILE - A rally in support of Ukrainian soldiers from the Azov Regiment who were captured by Russia in May after the fall of Mariupol in 2022 Copyright David Goldman/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright David Goldman/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Sophia Khatsenkova with AFP
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A viral photo viewed tens of thousands of times falsely claims to show an anti-war protest in Kyiv. However, the photo was taken in 2018 in Italy during a demonstration in favour of the construction of a high-speed railway.


On various Chinese social media platforms such as Weibo and Douyin, multiple accounts shared the claim that more than 100,000 people came out to demonstrate against Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv.

"More than 100,000 Ukrainians came out to the streets to demand the government sign a peace treaty with Russia to stop the war," said one account on the social media platform X.

"The people of Ukraine are beginning to wake up! Large numbers of people marched on the streets of Kyiv, demanding peace talks to end the conflict," wrote another social media user. 

The accompanying photo appears to show a large demonstration in a town square.

An old photo that predates the war in Ukraine

In order to verify these claims, The Cube conducted a thorough search online but found no mention of such a protest in international and Ukrainian media outlets. 

After doing a reverse image search, Euronews found the original photo on Alamy, a stock photo website. 

The first thing we noticed is the date: It was taken in November 2018, more than three years before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. 

The caption of the photo states it was taken in Turin in northern Italy. It also says it was taken during a protest in favour of the construction of the TAV with "40,000 demonstrators gathered in Piazza Castello."

The TAV is the Treno Alta Velocita - a controversial high-speed train linking Turin and the French city of Lyon.

The project involves the construction of a nearly 60-kilometre tunnel through the French and Italian Alps in order to halve journey times between the two countries. 

Supporters of the high-speed train claim the project can bring jobs and economic growth to the region which is slated for completion in 2032. 

However, critics believe the construction will pose significant environmental risks by drying up water resources. 

The Cube found Italian articlesconfirming the event did occur in Turin in 2018 and the photos used as identical to the ones falsely claiming to show a protest in Kyiv. 

Comparison imageEuronews

If we take the viral social media pictures with the ones from the 2018 protest, we can see they’re identical. 

For example, we can see the same banner in the center with the Italian flags. Moreover, the scaffolding on the building on the top right is identical. This means the viral social media picture has been miscaptioned.

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