Was a secret Russian passport belonging to Ukraine’s First Lady discovered by Moscow authorities?

Ukraine's first lady Olena Zelenska waves at the National Archives building in Washington, USA
Ukraine's first lady Olena Zelenska waves at the National Archives building in Washington, USA Copyright Stephanie Scarbrough/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
By Sophia Khatsenkova
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That’s the latest propaganda narrative Russian state news and social media users are trying to push. However, there are too many inconsistencies that cast doubt on the document's authenticity.


According to numerous social media accounts and pro-Kremlin media, Russian secret services found Olena Zelenska’s, the Ukrainian First Lady’s hidden Russian passport.

"In Crimea, when assessing the cost of Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s nationalised apartment, his wife Olena's bag was found.⠀A Russian passport in the name of Zelenskaya and an impressive amount of money were found in it," claims on X account.

The scene was allegedly filmed in the couple’s apartment in Yalta in the Russian-occupied region of Crimea. 

However, there are multiple inconsistencies in the video which cast doubt on the document’s authenticity. 

After conducting a reverse image search of the First Lady's passport picture, Euronews found the original photo on her official Instagram account. It was posted in March 2023 during Zelenska’s visit to Lithuania. 

However, the passport has reportedly been issued in 2014 - nearly ten years before Olena Zelenska even posted the photo.

The photo also doesn’t meet the criteria for a Russian passport. According to the Russian government’s website, when taking a passport photo, a person’s mouth must be closed and the facial expression should also be neutral, which is not the case for the First Lady. 

The other inconsistency is the passport number. In Russia, the first two digits correspond to the region in which the passport was issued. 

In the video, we can see the first two digits are 20, which represents the region of Voronezh located in southwestern Russia. 

But the top of the passport indicates the passport was issued in the district of Simferopol in Crimea – more than 1,200 kilometres away from Voronezh. 

The third and fourth digits should correspond to the last two digits of the year the document was issued. 

Again, in the viral video, we can see the number is 20 which means the document was issued in 2020.

But on the top of the document, it states it was issued in 2014 – another unlikely inconsistency. 

It’s true the first lady owned property in Crimea. However, Russian authorities seized Zelenska’s property in May 2023, claiming the apartment would be auctioned off with proceeds going toward Russia's war effort in Ukraine. 

Again, it’s  unlikely that Russian authorities took more than four months to uncover 'the secret passport.'

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