The stylized Ukrainian coat of arms on President Zelenskyi’s sweatshirt is one of many other variations of the Ukrainian trident, which has been used in state heraldry for centuries.

Russian media continue to spread narratives about the need to ‘denazify’ Ukraine. This time, the pro-Kremlin media, justifying the Russian invasion of Ukraine by posing it as the fight against neo-Nazism, said that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi allegedly wears clothes with Nazi symbols. Russian medis wrote that on May 13 Zelenskyi appeared at an official meeting with Pope Francis in the Vatican wearing a sweater with the UIA/OUN Nazi emblem. Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN)  was a Ukrainian nationalist organization established in 1929. Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UIA) was a Ukrainian military movement, which was actively struggling for Ukraine’s independence in 1942—1960.

To justify aggression and war against Ukraine, Russian media constantly spread repeatedly refuted narratives about Nazism in Ukraine. This time, the primary source of disinformation about Zelenskyi wearing a Nazi sweater in the Vatican was Fiorella Isabelle, an RT propagandist source employee, as well as a network of pro-Russian Twitter bots.

During his official visit to Italy on May 13, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi also held a 40-minute meeting with Pope Francis in the Vatican. The Ukrainian president was indeed wearing a black sweatshirt with the Ukrainian stylized coat of arms in white on a black chevron. However, it is not an OUN/UIA symbol. The Ukrainian coat of arms on the president’s sweatshirt is just one of hundreds of other variations of Ukrainian trident, which was used both in the 20th and 21st centuries, and during the times of Kyivan Rus, where the trident was the sign of Volodymyr the Great of Kyiv.

The OUN emblem created by the Ukrainian graphic artist Robert Lisovsky was approved in 1932. The coat of arms depicted a golden (yellow) trident with the middle element shaped as a sword, and the trident itself was placed on a blue shield. This stylization differs from the one seen on Volodymyr Zelenskyi’s chevron.

Neither the 1932 OUN emblem stylization nor any other depiction of the Ukrainian trident is Nazi and is not prohibited in any country in the world. Russian media narratives are continuing the traditions of Soviet propaganda, aimed at destroying Ukrainian statehood.

In addition, during the Nuremberg trials of 1945-1946, none of the branches of the Ukrainian liberation movements (in particular, the OUN and the UIA) were found guilty. Accordingly, all attempts of the Soviet and now Russian propaganda machine to brand Ukrainian insurgents as fascists and Nazi collaborators were refuted even then, during the international tribunal.

Nazi and fascist symbols are prohibited throughout Ukraine according to the law ‘On Condemning Communist and National Socialist (Nazi) Totalitarian Regimes in Ukraine and Prohibiting Propaganda of Their Symbols.’ In particular, using such symbols entails criminal liability and is punishable by imprisonment for up to five years.