No, Volodymyr Zelensky’s Wife Did Not Purchase a Bugatti Tourbillon

As the war between Ukraine and Russia continues, the First Lady of Ukraine seems to be the target of Russian propaganda.

Russian disinformation campaigns are nothing new, but this one is particularly bizarre. A state-owned Russian news site is spreading a blatant falsehood that Olena Zelensky, wife of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, purchased a Bugatti Tourbillon from Bugatti Paris. The dealer denies this claim and has announced legal action against those responsible for the propaganda.

Italian journalist David Puente highlighted on X (formerly Twitter) that the story originated from a French-language website called Verite Cachee, or “Hidden Truth in France.” This site, which launched just last month ahead of the French elections, is filled with low-quality, AI-generated, pro-Russia content.

The site falsely presents an invoice for the car and a deepfake video on Instagram of someone pretending to be a dealership employee announcing the sale of a Tourbillon to Zelensky. This fabricated story was then picked up by RIA Novosti, a Russian state-owned publication.

Bugatti Paris confirms that the invoice is fake. “The mandatory legal details are missing from the invoice, the vehicle’s price is clearly incorrect, the prices and descriptions of the options are inaccurate and inconsistent, the graphics are outdated, and the [owners of Bugatti Paris] Car Lovers Group would never have allowed such a document to be issued.”

Despite the obvious flaws, the crude and apparent nature of the fake invoice has not deterred people from believing it. “Bugatti” is currently trending on X with nearly 100,000 posts, not just because of interest in the Tourbillon.

BBC journalist Shayan Sardarizadeh suggests this propaganda can be traced to a network of sites run by John Mark Dougan, a former Florida police officer living in Russia who operates several pro-Russia disinformation sites. Last year, the BBC reported that Dougan’s sites spread a rumor that Volodymyr Zelensky bought two yachts with U.S. taxpayer dollars, a false story cited by U.S. senators Marjorie Taylor Greene and J.D. Vance.


  • Ian Sawyer

    Growing up with a father who was a mechanic I had an appreciation for cars and motorcycles from an early age. I shared my first bike with my brother that had little more than a 40cc engine but it opened up a world of excitement for me, I was hooked. As I grew older I progressed onto bigger bikes and...

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