Regional autonomy and local separatism are favorite topics of the Russian disinformation machine. The latest example of this theme is a story disseminated by Russian and pro-Russian Ukrainian media claiming that Volyn’, a northwestern Ukrainian region and Vinnytsia, President Poroshenko’s home town want to secede from Ukraine. The source for this fake story is a Ukrainian Army battalion commander.

Website screenshot vesti-ukr.com

Website screenshot tvzvezda.ru

Russia’s Defense Ministry television channel Zvezda, Lenta.ru, Vesti, Novostnoe Agentstvo Kharkov and others featured this story with headlines such as “Volyn and Vinnytsia To Leave Ukraine”.

This outrageous claim is based on a sentence uttered by Anatoliy Vinohrodsky, the commander of Donbas battalion that Russian media have taken completely out of context and twisted to produce a fake story.

During a January 16 press conference held by commanders of volunteer battalions who initiated a trade blockade of the war zone in an effort to force an exchange of captured soldiers, Vinohrodsky questioned the need for granting the occupied territories a special status.

To illustrate his position, he raised the question of possible discontent in other regions, such as Volyn, or Vinnytsia, whose taxes are used to pay tariffs in the war zone, they also could demand special status, he pointed out.  Vihohrodsky did not once mention any region seceding or demanding autonomy from Kyiv.