Zelenska didn’t buy a Bugatti hypercar for $4.8M

“News” of Olena Zelenska, Ukraine’s first lady, buying a limited edition Bugatti hypercar left Ukraine supporters furious – except she never bought it.

It’s yet another carefully crafted propaganda campaign, most likely of Russian origin, aiming to discredit Ukraine and help convince its European allies to cease international support vital to fighting the Russian troops on Ukrainian soil.

Fake news has been circling the internet for around a week now. Mostly, it’s being spread by fishy and not well-known websites. While no reputable news outlets swallowed the propaganda hook, the huge number of articles on the web might fool a reader searching for Olena Zelenska, her husband and the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, or any other Ukrainian-related news.

The “news” seems to have originated on Verite Cachee, a French-language website. The article named “Olena Zelenska became the first owner of the all-new Bugatti Tourbillon” alleges that Olena Zelenska and Volodymyr Zelensky attended a private presentation by Bugatti while visiting from Ukraine. The Ukraine’s first lady “was impressed by the new car” and decided to buy one for $4.8 million.

Zelenskyy France visit
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and First Lady Olena Zelenska are welcomed at Elysee Palace by French President Emmanuel Macron and First Lady Brigitte Macron on June 07, 2024 in Paris, France. Kristy Sparow/GettyImages

The outlet even provided “proof” of Zelenska’s purchase – an invoice accompanied by a video where Jacques Bertin, an employee of the Bugatti dealership in Paris, allegedly shares more details about Zelenska’s visit while sitting in a car.

The “proof” and false claims were soon amplified by other fishy websites and X user ‘Aussie Cossack,’ a known Kremlin propagandist Simeon Boikov.

The fake news, crafted to diminish allies' support for Ukraine, was soon debunked by experts and citizens alike. The community posts that allow X users to add context to any post deemed the video of Jacques Bertin a deepfake, emphasizing that the guy in the video wasn’t real.

The Ukrainian Center for Countering Disinformation said this was yet another attempt “by russians [sic] to discredit the family of the President of Ukraine.”

“russian propagandists launched this fake before the NATO summit in order to discredit Ukraine's top leadership in the international arena,” they said.

The upcoming NATO summit which will be held in Washington on 9–11 July 2024.

The luxury car maker made headlines worldwide when it introduced its brand-new partially electric Bugatti Tourbillon. ‘Tourbillon’ is a term used by mechanical watchmakers, and refers to a mechanism that constantly rotates the balance wheel. Mechanical watches are a symbol of luxury, and so is Bugatti.

“The centerpiece of this takes the horlogerie philosophy to its most literal conclusion: an instrument cluster designed and built with the expertise of Swiss watchmakers,” the watchmaker said. There’s titanium inside the car, as well as gemstones such as sapphire and ruby.

Bugatti isn’t the type of car you want to see a president’s wife buying. Even in times of peace. But Russia will continue spilling dirt on Ukraine and its allies in an attempt to gain leverage in war. The upcoming NATO summit, as well as the Summer Olympics 2024 are also expected to be heavily targeted with propaganda campaigns and cyberattacks.