The car in question most likely belongs to a Ukrainian businessman and deputy of the Vinnytsia Oblast Council. What also indirectly points to this conclusion is the car’s registration in the city of Mohyliv-Podilskyi, Vinnytsia oblast. The purchase of the Rolls-Royce GHOST with the vehicle registration plate КВ0001ОІ took place on 8 February 2022, meaning it occurred before Andriy Pyshnyy was appointed NBU Governor (and took office in October 2022) and before Russia launched its full-scale war against Ukraine.
Andriy Pyshnyy’s nomination to Chairman of the National Bank of Ukraine did not go unnoticed by Russian propagandists. With the NBU Governor being a key figure in building up relations with international partners that are providing Ukraine with financial aid, the Russian propaganda machine’s choice of target is understandable.
On 21 March, a message in a Telegram channel alleged that Andriy Pyshnyy had “bought a new Rolls-Royce.” The post featured a photo of a man standing, his back to the camera, next to a car parked near the NBU’s head office in Kyiv. The claim that the car belonged to the NBU Governor was accompanied by no proof of ownership and was deliberately misleading.
The same day, Russian media outlets and Kremlin-affiliated Telegram channels picked this message up and started spreading it around. A story featuring “the gold-plated trunk and gangster tags on Andriy Pyshnyy’s ride” was even aired on the Russian TV channel Russia 24. The show’s runners calculated the vehicle’s price and made a point to highlight that the purchase had been financed with “international loans designated for the war effort.”
The message also made its way into the narratives of some Kremlin-leaning commentators in the West who earn their bread by spewing anti-Ukrainian rhetoric. “Well looky here. The Head of the Ukrainian national bank has bought himself a new rolls Royce. Keep donating to Ukraine…..times are so tough.” tweeted David Vance, an American fringe right-wing blogger, on 22 March 2023. The tweet garnered just under three million views.
The most likely owner of said vehicle is Hennadii Vatsak, a Ukrainian businessman and deputy of the Vinnytsia Oblast Council. Stories mentioning the presence of a similar Rolls-Royce in Vatsak’s car fleet have been featured in the media outlets Top Fat and Your Car. Another piece of evidence that hints at the car’s true owner is the license plate, which is registered in the city of Mohyliv-Podilskyi, Vinnytsia oblast.
What is more, according to Ukrainian registers, the purchase of the Rolls-Royce GHOST with the license plate КВ0001ОІ was made on 8 February 2022, prior to Andriy Pyshnyy’s appointment as NBU Governor (and his induction in October 2022) and prior to Russia’s full-blown war against Ukraine.
The NBU posted, on its Facebook page, an official rebuttal of all allegations that falsely named Andriy Pyshnyy as the car’s owner. In a comment to StopFake, the NBU also indicated that the car had indeed been seen parked near the NBU, specifically that “the owner drove into the government quarter, pulled up next to the NBU building, went into a store, and drank coffee. To remarks from NBU guards, he responded with vague excuses, saying he would soon leave.”
Although the central bank refuted the lie about Andriy Pyshnyy’s ownership of the car, a mention of the “NBU Governor’s Rolls-Royce” surfaced again, a few weeks later, in a Telegram video that supposedly showed Andriy Pyshnyy “racing along in a motorcade.” The NBU told StopFake that at the time the footage was shot, the NBU Governor was away on a business trip to Washington, D.C., where he was participating in the IMF/WB Spring Meetings.
False accusations that the NBU Governor reportedly has ties with Russia is another fake narrative that has been doing the rounds in a concerted misinformation effort by sources on the Kremlin’s payroll. International media platforms have also been used to spread such lies. On April 10, the Opinion section of EU Reporter featured the article “A Russian trace is likely to undermine the head of the Ukrainian Central Bank Andriy Pyshnyy’s future.” The article accuses Andriy Pyshnyy of having connections with the inner circle of Russian ex-president Dmitry Medvedev. “It is very embarrassing that a state-owned bank despite of direct link of its borrower with the former Russian president engaged in the far-reaching restructuring of debts on very suspicious conditions,” writes EU Reporter.
The New York Times has referred to EU Reporter as a media outlet that has promoted Huawei’s interests in the West. Politico has also written on the undercover lobbying of multiple interests by the EU Reporter: “Brussels news outlet EU Reporter’s blend of corporate press releases, original news and paid-for content makes it impossible for readers to determine who’s behind the coverage.”
In recent months, StopFake fact-checkers have detected attempts by Russian media and Telegram channels to compromise the NBU’s work. The goal behind the mud-slinging, which targets audiences both in and beyond Ukraine, is obvious: if the smear campaign succeeded, it would weaken international support for Ukraine and trigger panic in the financial markets. The NBU is also an institution that exerts sanctions pressure on Russian business in Ukraine. The push to create a “spiral of mistrust” toward the Ukrainian central bank may enable the Kremlin to more confidently spread its narratives about “corruption in the Ukrainian government” and “theft of international aid.”