Has Zelensky sold off Ukraine’s agriculture to US multinationals?

According to a story doing the rounds on social media, Volodymyr Zelensky has sold 17 million hectares of his country’s farmland to the companies Monsanto, DuPont and Cargill. It’s fake news, as anyone who bothered to do a basic fact-check could easily find out. (For a start Monsanto no longer exists, having been taken over by the German multinational Bayer in 2018, while DowDuPont’s agricultural unit was hived off the following year to form the independent company Corteva.) But the story has been circulating for a couple of months now, shared repeatedly by people who haven’t made the slightest effort to confirm its accuracy, because it fits in with what they want to believe.

Currently the main source of this fake news story is a Facebook post by a deluded individual named Veronica Ivonne. To evaluate the reliability of that source, take a look at Ivonne’s timeline. You’ll find her offering the following helpful medical advice: “If you have cancer or a history of cancer STOP eating meat, chicken, pork, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt and all other forms of animal fat/protein!” Then you’ll be free from cancer! As you might expect, Ivonne is a fervent anti-vaxxer and gives credence to the bizarre claim that Covid-19 vaccines are designed to infect us all with HIV. (I’ll admit I hadn’t encountered that one before, but apparently in anti-vax circles it’s a thing.) It also comes as little surprise to find that she supports the New World Order conspiracy theory, and recommends that we read the Book of Revelation in order to prepare ourselves for the coming NWO apocalypse.

The source Ivonne herself cites for her attack on Zelensky is a website called the Australian National Review, which supporters of the fake news story have misidentified as the Australian edition of the long-established US conservative magazine National Review. In reality it’s a fringe conspiracy site run by former “property spruiker” Jamie McIntyre that peddles the usual nonsense about George Soros, the Rothschilds and the deadly effects of vaccination. The Australian National Review article itself was just copied-and-pasted from the Telegram channel of a crackpot named Laura Aboli (another purveyor of Soros/Rothschild conspiracy theories and anti-vax paranoia) who failed to offer any evidence for her allegation that Monsanto et al have bought up vast swathes of Ukrainian farmland. Despite being entirely unsubstantiated, the story spread unchecked (in both senses of the word) from there across the internet.

First published on Medium in August 2022