No! This is not an Azov battalion fighter

Passing off characters covered in Nazi tattoos for members of the Ukrainian administration or army now seems to be a pro-Russian propaganda tradition. We had already seen it in other cases. For example, that of the alleged chief of the Kiev policerevealed to be a convict from St. Petersburg, who according to Estonian sources was already used by Moscow to pollute political demonstrations in 2017. Today it’s up to another man, believed to be a member Azov battalion. Also in this case we have the exhibition of repellent images, where the character shows up with a Nazi uniform tattooed on his body. Facebook shares have also reached Italian pages (eg. who e who). This time too, however, we are faced with a sensational own goal.

For those in a hurry:

  • The image of a man with Nazi tattoos is shared by presenting him as a member of the Azov battalion, without providing supporting evidence.
  • An image search of Ellinika Hoaxes’ colleagues leads to Minsk police sources.
  • He is a known convict in Belarus, who was recently arrested.

Analyses

According to Greek colleagues from Ellinika Hoaxes the first to relaunch the images of the alleged Ukrainian Nazi was the journalist Thanasis Avgerinos. But the original source is a Telegram channel from Belarus, “Centro” του “of, (Center for Combating Extremism in Belarus). We recall that the country has facilitated the passage of Russian troops bound for Kiev, allowing them to pass through their territory.

In the narratives circulating in the Italian Facebook shares it seems enough to exhibit Nazi tattoos to automatically be members of the Azov battalion. True supporting sources not received.

The man was arrested on June 16 in Minsk. We know that he also apologized to the Belarusian authorities, claiming that he had changed his mind:

I was born in 1986. I have been sentenced several times under Article 207, paragraph 1, and 339, paragraph 3. I apologize to the veterans for my tattoos and I promise in the near future to remove them or to cover the fascist symbols, which I gave up.

The articles to which it refers are precisely those of the Belarusian Penal Code (207 e 339). Curiously, the man was also the object of disinformation even from the pro-Ukrainian side, in fact there were shares circulating where it was claimed that he was a Russian pro-Nazi.

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Conclusions

In no way do the photos circulating on Facebook prove that the man with the Nazi tattoos is Ukrainian, much less that he may be part of the Azov battalion, given his legal background and the recent arrest. From the original source, as illustrated by Greek colleagues who are credited with fact-checking, we only know that «the 36-year-old was arrested by a special service of the Belarusian Ministry of the Interior in the capital of Belarus, Minsk, on June 16, 2022. Her photos were leaked on social media after their announcement on a Belarusian channel run by the “Center for Combating Extremism in Belarus”.

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