Was Cocaine on Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s Desk During Video Chat With Elon Musk?

A viral video claimed to show cocaine on the Ukrainian president's desk as he video-called the billionaire.

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Image via The Presidential Office of Ukraine/Wikimedia Commons

Claim

A video that surfaced in spring 2022 showed cocaine on the desk of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during a video call with Elon Musk.

Rating

Fact Check

A video claiming to show Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with cocaine on his desk during a video call with billionaire Elon Musk went viral in spring 2022, but the footage was clearly doctored. 

The video was shared from numerous Russian-language sites and blogs, and on Telegram, in late April. It showed Zelenskyy speaking to the Tesla CEO and one other person over video chat. Next to the Ukrainian president’s hand, which was placed on the desk, was a pile of white powder and what appeared to be a credit card. One headline (translated from Google) stated, “Zelensky Caught Again With Cocaine On The Table.”

Here’s an example of a Telegram post with the video: 

The digitally manipulated footage was created by using a genuine video of Zelenskyy in a video call with the pair. That authentic footage was posted to Zelenskyy’s Instagram account in March 2022 as the Russian invasion of Ukraine was in its early stages. In the call, Zelenskyy invited Musk to Ukraine “after the war.”

[Also on Snopes: Yes, Elon Musk Sent Starlink Terminals to Ukraine, But at What Safety Cost?]

The same clip was posted on the BBC’s website, as well, without any indication of cocaine or a credit card.

Many people online compared that authentic footage with the edited version, pointing out the discrepancy.

The Associated Press also pointed out the differences, saying, in the edited video, the credit card did not look 3-dimensional and the reflection from the light on the desk was still visible through the card as the camera moved over it.

Given that the footage that surfaced in spring 2022 supposedly showing Zelenskyy with cocaine on his desk was clearly doctored, we have rated this claim as “False.” 

Sources:

‘Zelenskyy Video Was Edited to Add White Powder’. AP NEWS, 24 Apr. 2022, https://apnews.com/article/fact-check-zelenskyy-desk-powder-504857917643.

“zelenskiy_official.” Instagram, March 2022. https://www.instagram.com/accounts/login/?next=/p/CavZPUMgDKJ/. Accessed 4 May 2022.

“Zelensky Invites Elon Musk to Visit Ukraine.” BBC News. www.bbc.com, https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-europe-60637841. Accessed 4 May 2022.

Зеленский и Наркотики. https://misscaprizzz.livejournal.com/81457.html. Accessed 4 May 2022.

Зеленского Опять Застукали с Кокаином На Столе | Chelindustry.Ru. https://chelindustry.ru/left_prom2.php?tt=3&rr=5&ids=3375. Accessed 4 May 2022.

‘Zelenskyy Video Was Edited to Add White Powder’. AP NEWS, 24 Apr. 2022, https://apnews.com/article/fact-check-zelenskyy-desk-powder-504857917643.