The Russia-Ukraine war, which Russia calls a “special military operation” to "demilitarize Ukraine," has been dominating global headlines for almost two months. Russian President Vladimir Putin listed the “denazification” of Ukraine as an objective of his war. Not many bought the argument because Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is Jewish and lost family members in the Holocaust.
Many people on social media have been claiming that Zelensky is related to billionaire investor George Soros and that the two are cousins. Are Soros and Zelensky related? Here’s a quick fact check.
George Soros is also Jewish.
Rumors of Soros and Zelensky being related seem to be originating from the fact that both of them are Jewish. Soros was born in Budapest in 1930. He left the country when the communists seized power in the country. Soros’ relationship with Hungary has been quite nuanced.
While Soros has spent generously on philanthropic causes in Hungary, the country’s long-standing Prime Minister Victor Orban has accused him of encouraging immigration to the country. Orban runs a right-wing government that has a strict stance on immigration.
In 2018, Orban's government passed a law prohibiting any person or institution from proving assistance to undocumented migrants. The law was known as the “Stop Soros” law in popular parlance.
Zelensky was born in Ukraine.
Zelensky was born in 1978 in Kryvyi Rih, which was then part of the Soviet Union. The territory became part of Ukraine after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Zelensky was a comedian and an actor before becoming the Ukrainian president.
Several social media accounts claim that Zelensky and Soros are related.
The claims of Zelensky and Soros being related were made by a Twitter handle @ASBmilitari on April 5, attributing it to an unnamed Pentagon official. The account was created just days before the claim. A similar Twitter handle by the name @ASBmilitary with almost 200,000 followers was suspended shortly before. The account was instrumental in spreading misinformation and even floated a conspiracy theory about the presence of bioweapons labs in Ukraine.
Russia has also claimed that U.S. labs in Ukraine are working on developing biological weapons. The West and the United Nations have denied that Ukraine has or is working on biological weapons. In contrast, Russia has been accused of war crimes and using chemical weapons in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, like its apparent predecessor, @ASBmilitary has been suspended from Twitter. The microblogging site has been taking a hard stance on misinformation on the platform and even suspended former President Donald Trump. Twitter finds itself at crossroads now as Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk, a free-speech champion, has taken a significant stake in the company.
Zelensky and Soros aren't related.
A Department of Defense spokesperson has confirmed to multiple credible news organizations that the agency hasn't claimed that Soros and Zelensky are related. Open Society Foundations, Soros' philanthropic organization, also confirmed to Fact Check that Soros and Zelensky aren't related.
The organization said, “The allegation that George Soros is related to somebody making news, in this case Ukraine’s president, has been the basis for many conspiracy theories in the past. This current one, just like those that came before it, is false.”