BY BRENDAN COLE
Volodymr Zelensky’s rise to power was helped by his role in the show Servant of the People in which he played a teacher who became president after video of his rant against corruption in Ukraine went viral.
Life imitated art and the Russian-language program’s popularity resonated enough among Ukrainians tired of venality among their political class to propel Zelensky to becoming the real-life Ukrainian president.
However, recently he has faced several unfounded allegations accusing him of the same kind of grift his show mercilessly mocked.
Media outlets have in turn debunked claims that Western aid given to fight Russian aggression was used by Zelensky to build a presidential property portfolio spanning the U.S., Italy, the U.K. and, most recently, France.
Twitter account Liz Churchill, whose handle describes them as a “conspiracy theorist,” tweeted to 273,000 followers an image of a luxury house nestled in verdant hills that would not look out of place on Selling Sunset.
“The U.S. just announced another $1.3 BILLION aid package to Ukraine. Reminder…here’s a picture of Zelensky’s home. Lol,” Churchill wrote, without offering proof regarding its ownership.
A follow-up message said, “Would it be too much to ask for him to write Thank-you cards to every broke person/family that helped him buy his Dream Home?”
As of Wednesday afternoon, the image Churchill shared had received more than 1.5 million views, 11,000 likes but also a fair bit of criticism.
Social media users were quick to ridicule Churchill’s claims, sharing a link that showed that the house was being listed for sale on a French real estate website so it could not belong to Zelensky.
The website, Green Acres, described the property as having 850 square meters (9,000 square feet) as a Belle Epoque-style villa. It is located in Beausoleil, Alpes-Maritimes, Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur, with a price tag of 4.9 million euros ($5.5 million).
While located in France, one of the selling points was that the property was only “a few minutes from Monaco,” the principality on the French Riviera popular with the jet set who love luxury living very much but like taxes a lot less.
Composed of four bedrooms, each with a private bathroom, the property was “beautifully renovated with the use of high-quality materials” like natural stone and marble. There is also a high-quality views of the sea, not to mention “a beautiful infinity swimming pool.”
Other Twitter users noted that the house was listed on other property websites as they criticized Churchill’s claims.
“Why are you lying?” wrote Niels Groeneveld next to an image of the property being advertised on Pinterist. Kate Levchuk, originally from Odesa, tweeted “you are such a clown LOL.” Twitter user Morgan Peterson wrote: “That house is for sale in Beausoleil, France. Not the residence of Zelensky.”
“An account with almost 280 000 followers constantly spreads lies like this. 1,3 million views, over 10k retweets and 25,6k likes for a fake photo of “Zelensky’s home,” tweeted Pekka Kallioniem.
It is the latest unfounded allegation of corruption that Zelensky has faced. In February, a social media post that was widely shared claiming that the Ukrainian president had a $35 million home in Florida and $1.2 billion in an overseas bank account.
“Zelensky owns 15 homes, 3 private planes, and has a monthly income of 11 million dollars. Why is no one questioning where our AID is going?” tweeted the account Trump’s Nephew.
Forbes was found no evidence of these assets, while none of Florida’s public records show that he owned a home in the Sunshine State.
Forbes estimated in 2022 that Zelensky’s real estate portfolio was worth $4 million, which included two apartments he owns, two apartments he co-owns, five parking spaces and commercial property.
Zelensky spokesperson Sergiy Nykyforov told AFP in February that the claims were part of “a conscious but futile attempt to influence American society’s support for the fight of the Ukrainian people for freedom and justice.”