Posts sharing footage of an altercation in New York purport to show a security guard to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky starting a bar fight. This is false; USA Today, whose logo appears in the clip, told AFP it did not publish the report and both the New York Police Department (NYPD) and the bar where the incident allegedly occurred also refuted the claim.
“Media: One of #Zelensky’s bodyguards brought his chief’s visit to the #US to a vibrant conclusion starting a fight in a bar not far from the UN office because the visitors didn’t want to shout out after him ‘Glory to Ukraine,'” says a September 26, 2023 X post shared by the Russian embassy in South Africa.
But a spokesperson for the NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner for Public Information said on September 27 that there is “no police report” about an incident involving a Zelensky security guard.
And a search for the alleged incident on the US city’s police website yielded no results.
Not reported by USA Today
The one-minute, three-second video sequence intersperses archival footage of Zelensky, the UN building in New York, the interior of a bar and a late-night street brawl. It carries the USA Today logo in the top right corner.
However, USA Today did not publish any such report, the media company said on its website.
“The video circulating on X using the USA Today logo and branding is fake,” a USA Today spokesman told AFP on September 28. He added that the news organization filed “a false information claim with the platform to stop the immediate spread of misinformation.”
AFP found font inconsistencies when comparing the video about the brawl to past sequences produced by the network. The letters “i,” “g” and “f” are all slightly different.
No incident at The Campbell
The posts place the incident at The Campbell bar. However, Liv Meyers, owner of the establishment, also told AFP on September 27 that the video is fake and that “no incident occurred in or around The Campbell.”
The bar is located at 15 Vanderbilt Ave, in the Grand Central Train Terminal in New York, approximately half a mile from the UN headquarters. However, its exterior — which can be seen here — does not correspond with the footage.
Seen in the video are several storefront signs, including one for the clothing store SoHo Boutique. A Google search for this name along with the keyword “New York,” found the incident was located in Brooklyn, at 1117 Quentin Rd, about 12 miles from The Campbell.
Other elements in the video, such as a sign for the New York School of Career and Applied Studies (NYSCAS) and an awning with the words “gift depot” also place the recording at this address in Brooklyn.
AFP found no recent reports of an altercation at this location and the NYPD offered no information on such a fight.
Zelensky and the war in Ukraine are regular targets of disinformation, which AFP debunks here.