Following the meeting between the wives of the Azov Battalion fighters and Pope Francis, a photo began to circulate to claim that one of them is a fervent supporter of Nazism. The victim of this hoax is Kateryna Prokopenko, wife of Azov commander Denis Prokopenko currently serving at Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.
For those in a hurry
- It is claimed that one of the girls with outstretched arms in a photograph is the wife of the Azov commander.
- The photo of the three girls with outstretched arms has been circulating since at least the beginning of 2010, when the wife of the Azov commander must have been between 14 and 15 years old.
- The photo was shared by a Polish account. One of the girls, the one on the left, is wearing a T-shirt with the Polish flag.
- The first shares of the photo, which later became a meme, refer to Poland.
- The meme has been around for at least 12 years and no one had associated the girls’ faces with wives or girlfriends of Ukrainian fighters.
Let’s read one of the posts shared by users via Facebook:
The wives of the AZOV battalion met the Pope asking him to intercede to save the lives of their husbands. Who are not Nazis, noooooooooooooooo. The outstretched arm is raised only because they were asking the teacher to go to the toilet. Sukate NaziZoccole your husbands are gone
The attack is aimed at Kateryna Prokopenko, the wife of the commander of the Azov Battalion, who according to users (and sites like Lapekoranera and the neo-Nazi Voxnews) would be the girl in the green T-shirt with her arm outstretched in full Nazi style.
User Daniele (who shows a Z in the profile photo, the one used by pro-Russians to support the Russian invasion in Ukraine) writes: «In the photo, in evidence, the” lady “Prokopenko, wife of the neo-Nazi commander of Azov, sealed in the Azovstal sewers along with his rat colony in Mariupol. ‘ Daniele is wrong, as well as many other users: the one with the green shirt is not Mrs. Prokopenko.
The photo becomes a meme and has been around since 2010
The photo of the three girls with outstretched arms was released in the past in two versions, one of which was modified in 2015 and shared with the slogan “Please meet the new European country, Ukraine”.
On WebArchive we find a save of the site Demotivation.me dated October 18, 2011.
Among the comments, the three girls were identified as Polish. The girl with the red shirt on the left, in fact, could confirm this statement having drawn a heart with the Polish flag.
In communities like 4plebs.org the photo is shared with the filename «polish-girls-white-pride.jpg».
On the Russian site Demotivators.ru we note that the image circulated in February 2010. Out of curiosity, the photo is also present on the site Destrapermilano.
The site and the Polish account removed
The images of 2011 and 2010, currently the most dated, are cropped. We find another, more complete, where you can also see the girls’ shoes. The reason for the cut could be to want to remove the watermark of the user who first shared it on a Polish site. We find this full version on a Korean site:
In the image we read a watermark that reports the user asiia1927 of the Polish site Fotka.pl. Unfortunately, the account has been removed from the site. The Polish trail continues, finding on the site Wiocha.pl a screenshot of a Facebook profile of that Marlena.
The age of Kateryna Prokopenko
Considering 2010 as the year the meme began to circulate and the fact that Kateryna Prokopenko is currently expected to be 27, she must have been between 14 and 15 years of age at that time. The photo may have circulated long before it became a meme.
An old meme of three girls with outstretched arms, which has been circulating online for at least 12 years, was used to accuse Kateryna Prokopenko, wife of the Azov battalion commander, of being a Nazi. The oldest publications concern Polish, non-Ukrainian sites and accounts, and in 12 years there are no associations with the wives of the Azov battalion fighters.
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