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A Swiss land registry official said that documents claiming to show purchases of luxury properties by Ukrainian officials are forged.
The documents contain errors, such as the wrong digit count in numbers identifying the property.
A Swiss newspaper said the false claims were the work of a blogger loyal to the Kremlin.
Did top Ukrainian officials spend lavishly on fancy homes in Switzerland as Ukraine received billions of U.S. dollars to help defend itself in a war with Russia?
No, and documents that supposedly support this claim are forgeries, a Swiss official said.
The article said its claims are based on a "fact-checked" Newspunch investigation. It links to tweets from @AZMilitary1, which has previously spread misleading information about Finland’s ties to Nazis and other topics.
Newspunch’s article and the related tweets claim to show Swiss land registry documents and allege that three people who have ties to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy purchased multimillion dollar properties in Gstaad, a Swiss resort town. The officials named are Dmitry Razumkov, a politician, Oleksandr Danyliuk, a former National Security and Defense Council secretary, and Lyudmila Denisova, a former human-rights official. Denisova has since said that her firing was initiated by Zelenskyy.
But the documents are fake. The Land Registry Oberland in Bern, Switzerland, keeps records about properties in Gstaad. Adrian Mühlematter, the Land Registry Oberland’s managing land registry administrator, told PolitiFact that the documents about the Ukrainian officials were forgeries.
Mühlematter sent us an article from the Swiss German-language newspaper Berner Zeitung that said the claim began with a blogger loyal to the Kremlin, who tweets in German under the alias Gagarin. A Berner Zeitung reporter discovered that the documents were forged because they contain inconsistencies, including land registry property numbers that do not match the addresses and identifying numbers that have insufficient digits.
The documents also claim to be the first page of a five-page document. But Mühlematter said that typically only agricultural properties, because of listed easements, have documents that long.
Newspunch’s article used the fake documents to try to convince readers that Ukraine’s government is corrupt and therefore undeserving of foreign aid. The article said: "Did anybody stop to think that sending billions of dollars in no-strings-attached aid to one of Europe’s poorest countries — that also happens to be one of the world’s most corrupt countries — might be a poor use of U.S. taxpayer funds?"
However, the article also said there is "no evidence" that U.S. funds were used to purchase these Swiss properties.
PolitiFact asked Newspunch for evidence to support its claims but received none.
A website claimed that three high-ranking Ukrainian officials had purchased luxury property in the resort town of Gstaad, Switzerland.
A Swiss land registry official said the documents cited as evidence were forged; errors in them prove that they did not come from the registry, the official said.
We rate this claim False.
Facebook post, user I, Hypocrite, June 29, 2022. Accessed June 30, 2022.
Newspunch, "High-Ranking Ukrainian Officials Caught Splurging On Luxury Real Estate In Switzerland," June 8, 2022. Accessed June 30, 2022.
Email interview, Adrian Mühlematter, managing land registry administrator, notary, Directorate for Internal Affairs and Justice of the Canton of Bern, Land Registry Oberland, July 7, 2022.
Email interview, Sean Adl-Tabatabai, Newspunch, July 7, 2022.
Berner Zeitung, "Russia trolls operate with fake land register extracts," June 14, 2022. Accessed July 8, 2022.
Factcheck.org, "Bogus Claim About Border Rape Revived," April 30, 2019. Accessed July 1, 2022.
Reuters, "Fact Check-Finnish Air Force swastika not introduced in support of Nazism," May 24, 2022. Accessed June 30, 2022.
Reuters, "Fact Check-Video showing launch of checkered Russian rocket is from 2018, not latest Sarmat intercontinental missile launch," April 21, 2022. Accessed June 30, 2022.
HumAngle, "Factcheck: Russia Claims U.S. Is Making Bioweapons In Nigeria. True?," May 31, 2022. Accessed July 1, 2022.
DW, "Why Ukraine's human rights chief Lyudmila Denisova was dismissed," March 6, 2022. Accessed July 1, 2022.
Radio Free Europe, "Ukrainian Parliament Fires Ombudswoman Denisova Citing Lax Efforts In Response To Russian Invasion," May 31, 2022. Accessed July 13, 2022.
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