THE VERIF – Kateryna Prokopenko, the wife of an Azov fighter who testified on television, is she a neo-Nazi?

A week ago, last Friday, the Ukrainian Kateryna Prokopenko was our guest, to evoke on our antenna the ordeal of the last defenders of the Azovstal site in Mariupol. Her husband, Denys Prokopenko, was indeed part of this garrison besieged by the Russians. Since then, the young woman has been accused of neo-Nazi sympathies on social networks. Accusations that, however, are based on deceptive elements. BFMTV takes stock of this controversy this Saturday.

Last week Kateryna Prokopenko completed an extensive media and international tour. The Ukrainian, wife of Denys Prokopenko, one of the leaders of the Azov battalion, which then withdrew to the underground of the Azovstal site, defended the case of these last defenders of Mariupol, cornered by the Russian invader, before to surrender to the hands of their enemies on Friday night.

On May 11, after an interview with the Pope, the young woman pleaded for their evacuation:

“We hope that this meeting will save their lives. (…) Our soldiers stand ready to lay down their arms in case of evacuation to a third country.”

In the process, the young woman multiplied the TV sets in France. And on Friday, May 13, she even spoke about ours. An intervention that sparked controversy on social networks. Indeed, on Twitter, several internet users have accused her of being a neo-Nazi activist, with supporting photos. This Saturday, BFMTV sheds light on this controversy.

• What are the suspicions based on?

On Twitter, the editing quickly followed the interview with Kateryna Prokopenko in our studios. Barely fifteen minutes after her passage, an internet user posted a screenshot of the Ukrainian national next to a snapshot in which a group of young girls give the fascist salute, with the blond woman on the right being called Kateryna Prokopenko.

A publication that was later retweeted nearly 7,000 times a week, mainly by pro-Russian accounts. It must be said that this story sticks to the propaganda of the Kremlin, which has continuously justified its invasion of Ukraine by an alleged domination of the country and its army by neo-Nazis.

The accusation has even been picked up by very prominent figures. Like rapper Booba who posted three alleged photos of Kateryna Prokopenko on the same social network. Thus, the artist again passed on the image of the fascist salute, and then two other shots that should show Kateryna Prokopenko: a woman showing off a flag marked with the swastika, and the photo of the wearer of a t-shirt with the same symbol .

• A young girl already identified… and who is not Kateryna Prokopenko. is

The identity of the young woman immortalized in these last two stunning photos is already known. And for seven years. However, it is by no means the wife of the Azovstal soldier.

Reverse image search tools, like the one offered by Google, or even this one, thus make it possible to name this far-right activist. It turns out that he indeed has Ukrainian nationality, but is called Vita Zaverukha. She made herself known in 2014, amid a civil war in Ukraine already torn by the conflict between Kiev and pro-Russian separatist groups. In particular, she had abused the magazine She in an issue dated November 14 to 20, 2014 and devoted to Ukrainian female volunteer fighters. She claimed to be called Sveta and described herself as a simple “secretary and volunteer in a self-defense group”, without showing her extremist views.

The women’s magazine immediately apologized, as RFI noted on January 1, 2015, when it discovered the views the young woman expressed on social networks and her preference for swastika poses. The next day, The Inrocks added: “Vita Zaverukha regularly posts photos of Adolf Hitler, remnants of the Third Reich.”

• A fascist salute that is hard to trace but is already ten years old

If the identification of Vita Zaverukha in a Nazi t-shirt or waving a banner glorifying the same regime leaves no room for doubt, the case of the photograph depicting the three young girls with their right arms raised in the same fascist salute is more complex. . The reverse search does not confirm or deny the Ukrainian nationality of this group. On the other hand, this research shows that the photo was mainly used by Polish sites.

Above all, it shows that the image has been circulating for a long time, in this case at least since 2010, so twelve years before that. In addition, this post did not wait for the intervention of Kateryna Prokopenko on our set and the accusations against her to spread on the Internet, to the point of becoming a meme – that is, an image conducive to distraction and regular is published in various contexts for humorous or political purposes. However, the name Kateryna Prokopenko was never associated with it.

Celine Pitelet, Santa Tardieux with Robin Verner

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