It is reported that on the eve of August 24, Ukraine’s Independence Day, posts began circulating on the Internet that France allegedly “congratulated Ukraine” by “installing an advertising stand” with an incorrect map of the country and a flag with an insulting word in English written on top of it. Factcheckers from the “Verified.Media” project found out if this image is genuine.

The photo of the billboard, allegedly “located at a public transport stop,” began circulating on social networks on August 21. It is reported that the photo was allegedly “taken” somewhere in France, and the stand as if “installed by order of the French authorities.” On the stand there is an inscription in French: “Happy Independence Day, Ukraine! All Europe is with you.” On the image there is a map of the country, but for some reason without the territory of occupied Crimea, in the wrong colors of the national flag, because blue should be on top and yellow – on the bottom, but on the “improvised” map it is the other way around. Someone has put an English swear word on top of it.

Similar publications appeared, in particular, in the Telegram channels of Russian propagandists (“Kostyan the Cat – Official Channel”; “Yakov Kedmi”; “Russian Format” and “Military Observer”). The photo of the fake French “congratulations” could be found in public and personal pages of users of the aggressor’s social network “VKontakte”, as well as on some Russian news sites.

The letter combination JCDecaux is noticeable at the bottom of the stand. This is the name of a transnational corporation headquartered in the suburbs of Paris. Factcheckers of the project reported that it is engaged in the placement of outdoor advertising, including on bus stops. Specialists studied the company’s Facebook and found a similar photo published on July 30, 2023. In this photo, the billboard is captured from the same angle as in the viral photo, and the same shadows, building, car and people can be seen in the background. However, there was no mention of Ukraine on the original poster, as it actually features a piece by transgender artist Pippa Garner titled “Specimen Under Glass.”

The real photo of the stand was not taken in France at all. This can be understood at least by the letters AFA in the full company name on the stand. The company’s social media clarifies: “The streets of Copenhagen are filled with artworks from the Kunsthal Rotterdam Biennale”. Thus, experts refuted another attempt of falsification by pro-Russian provocateurs and confirmed that the picture was taken in the capital of Denmark, as the Magasin du Nord department store, located in the center of Copenhagen, is visible in the background, and the aggressor’s propagandists with the help of editing programs modified the picture and began to distribute it under the guise of a “stand” in France.

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