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Viral Image of Zelensky Mugshot Comes From His Television Series
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Viral Image of Zelensky Mugshot Comes From His Television Series

It was also altered to make it appear Tucker Carlson aired a video claiming the Ukrainian president had been arrested.

Has Volodymyr Zelensky been arrested by Russian forces? A recent post with more than 480,000 views on X (formerly Twitter) claims the Ukrainian president was captured and is being transferred to a high security prison in Russia.

According to the post, a video depicting Zelensky’s arrest was released by conservative media personality Tucker Carlson. An attached image includes a “Breaking News” chyron, an image of Carlson, and video play button overlay, all suggesting it is a screenshot of a video published by Carlson.

The image depicting Zelensky’s mugshot is not the product of Photoshop or AI generation: It actually comes from an episode of a television series in which the former actor starred. The logo for Zelensky’s television production company, Kvartal 95 Studio, can even be seen in the top right corner of the image. 

Zelensky, who had a successful career as an actor and comedian prior to running for the Ukrainian presidency, played the lead role of Ukrainian teacher-turned-president Vasily Petrovych Goloborodko in the satirical comedy Servant of the People. In the first episode of the series’ third season, Zelensky’s character is falsely imprisoned, during which he is depicted having a mugshot taken. In the frame, Zelensky can be seen holding the same name and number sign as in the image in the tweet.

Frame from Zelensky’s arrest scene in Servant of the People.
Frame from Zelensky’s arrest scene in Servant of the People.

The image of Carlson, breaking news chyron, and video play button included in the tweet seem to have been added to the image in order to make it appear as a product of Carlson’s production company, the Tucker Carlson Network. However, no such video appears on the network’s website or on any of Carlson’s personal social media accounts.

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Alex Demas is a fact checker at The Dispatch and is based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the company in 2023, he worked in England as a financial journalist and earned his MA in Political Economy at King's College London. When not heroically combating misinformation online, Alex can be found mixing cocktails, watching his beloved soccer team Aston Villa lose a match, or attempting to pet stray cats.