Russian media are massively disseminating an article from the Ukrainian pro-Kremlin publication Vesti which claims that in order to be granted asylum in Europe Ukrainians are resorting to pretending to be gay and communist.

Website vesti-ukr.com

Website screenshot vesti-ukr.com

Vesti claims that ever more Ukrainians are asking for political asylum abroad. In an article filled with generalizations and unsourced claims, Vesti posit that the war in Donbas and disillusionment with the political situation in the country are driving ever more Ukrainians to seek political asylum. Vesti does not support any of these claims with sources or examples, but goes even further, citing a certain Sergey who claims that Ukrainians pretend to be gay or communist just to receive asylum in Europe.

Various versions of this fake story were disseminated by NTV, Utro.ru, Channel 5, Argumenty i fakty, Life.ru, RIA Novosti, Lenta.ru, Vzglyad, Pravda.ru, Rossiyskaya gazeta, Novosti Rossiyi, Informburo, Handofmoscow, Vesti.lv, eg.ru, ridus.ru and others.

Website screenshot ntv.ru

Claims that large numbers of Ukrainians seeking asylum in Europe are simply false and without any foundation. Both the European Statistics Agency Eurostat and the NGO Europe Without Borders, show that the number of Ukrainian asylum seekers has declined significantly.

Russian television channel NTV claims that some 10,000 Ukrainians with communist party membership cards have settled in Italy, while in the Czech Republic Ukrainians constitute that country’s second largest émigré community.

Eurostat presents a completely different picture. Ukrainians don’t even make the top five of countries with the largest number of asylum seekers in Italy. Meanwhile in 2016 all of 355 Ukrainians were granted refugee status in the Czech Republic.

European institutions do not provide exact data on refugees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in the EU countries, partially due to the different country approaches to granting such asylum status and also because in 2014 the European Court of Justice banned sexuality tests for gay asylum seekers. Vesti’s claim that European officials are beginning to check the sexual orientation of Ukrainian refugees is also an invention.