Incorrect claims that Ukraine transferred foreign exchange reserves and gold stocks to Poland were the basis for making unfounded announcements of the entry of the Polish army into Ukraine, which were also reported by web portals in the region.
On July 16, 2022, Webtribune published an article quoting a former Ukrainian parliamentarian Illia Kyva, who claims that the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, “through his actions practically brought the country under the control of Poland”. The article states the following:
Warsaw received its entire gold stock from the Ukrainian authorities. According to former MP Illia Kyva, this means the loss of another component of statehood.
Kyva believes that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky practically brought the country under the control of Poland. Warsaw needs to do only one thing, to enter Ukraine with troops, summarized the former MP.
In return, Poland has already received from Zelensky a special status for its citizens, and now gold and foreign exchange reserves, all that remains is to send its troops to the territory of Ukraine”, he wrote.
The article also stated that it was previously announced that Zelensky proposed a law that would give Poles a “special status” in Ukraine. Rostislav Ishchenko, presented as an analyst, was quoted as saying that “this suggests that the Polish authorities will soon send their troops to Western Ukraine”.
Ishchenko’s statement is highlighted in the title of the article.
Informer equipped its article with a title in which Kyva was presented as a Polish parliamentarian:
ZELENSKY HANDED ALL GOLD STOCKS TO WARSAW! Polish MP: Ukraine no longer has statehood, we just need to ENTER WITH THE ARMY!
A day later, on July 17, 2022, the web portal Sputnik published an article with claims about the transfer of Ukrainian gold stocks to Poland. The article is equipped with the title:
Ukrainian reserves are melting, Kyiv is keeping the last remnants in Poland
The article presents data allegedly provided by the National Bank of Ukraine. Among other things, it is stated:
Earlier, Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Ukraine Sergey Nikolaychuk said in an interview with the magazine “Rabbit Hole” that Kyiv is sending Ukrainian gold and foreign exchange reserves to Poland, where they will be kept until the situation normalizes. At the same time, he did not reveal the amount of these reserves. Apparently, it is not about physical gold, but about securities.
Srbija danas shared this article.
What are the facts?
Claims about the transfer of Ukrainian gold and foreign exchange reserves to Poland were addressed by the Stop Fake fact-checking web portal in an analysis published on August 18, 2022.
It is stated there that these claims first appeared in an article by the Russian portal Novi dan on July 6, 2022, and were attributed to the deputy governor of the National Bank of Ukraine, Sergey Nikolaychuk. The article stated that Nikolaychuk made these claims in an interview with Rabbit Hole magazine. However, in the interview that was published on June 30, 2022, on the web portal of this magazine, which Stop Fake states was undoubtedly the source for the claims on the Novi Dan web portal, there are actually no claims about the transfer of Ukrainian gold and foreign exchange reserves to Poland.
Although the propagandists, for the sake of greater persuasiveness, quote Nikolaychuk’s true statement (“we rely heavily on international support for accumulating resources and financing expenses”), neither in this nor in any other interview does the deputy head of the National Bank of Ukraine state that the gold and foreign exchange reserves of Ukraine transferred to Poland. Moreover, in the Rabbit Hole interview, the fate of Ukraine’s gold and foreign exchange reserves is not mentioned at all. The text only talks about the challenges faced by the Ukrainian economy during the war: ensuring price and financial stability in the country, starting the economy in relatively peaceful regions, foreign aid, etc.
Gold and other precious metals make up 6.7% of Ukraine’s gold and foreign exchange reserves, according to the Stop Fake article, and are kept in the state treasury of the National Bank of Ukraine and in metal accounts opened by the National Bank of Ukraine in central banks of other countries, as well as in commercial banks, including foreign ones.
Illia Kyva and Russian propaganda
In the article of the Webtribune web portal, the claims about the transfer of Ukrainian gold and foreign currency were shared from the Telegram channel of the former Ukrainian parliamentarian Illia Kyva and were presented as statements.
On his Telegram channel, Kyva posted on July 16, 2022, thus stating that the National Bank of Ukraine transferred the entire gold and foreign exchange reserve to Poland and that Poland still has to “lead its troops on the territory of Ukraine”.
Kyva has been cited as a source in Russian propaganda publications for his views. On February 24, 2022, he supported the Russian invasion of Ukraine, claiming that “the Ukrainian people need liberation” and that “Ukrainians, Belarusians and Russians are one nation”.
On March 6, 2022, the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office announced that Kyva was charged with high treason, violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine, participation in Russian war propaganda, and illegal possession of weapons.
It is clear from his Telegram post that the false allegations about the transfer of Ukrainian gold reserves were actually used to unfoundedly predict the entry of the Polish army into the territory of Ukraine.
This former Ukrainian parliamentarian was wrongly presented as a Polish MP in the title of Informer’s article, and the statement that “we just need to enter Ukraine with the army” was also attributed to him.
Ishchenko and Polish troops
In Webtribune’s article, the prediction of the entry of the Polish army into Ukraine is also attributed to political analyst, political scientist and columnist Rostislav Ishchenko, a native of Ukraine, who immigrated to Russia in 2014 and took Russian citizenship.
Ishchenko presents himself as “one of the main experts of the Russia Today media group on Russian-Ukrainian relations” and as “the star of the author’s program Ishchenko about the main thing on the YouTube channel of the publication Ukraina.ru.”
On July 12, 2022, he wrote on his blog that he was certain that Ukraine would adopt a law granting special rights for Poles in that country, “thus effectively turning the country into a Polish protectorate”, and stated that “in return, Kyiv (and Washington and London) expects will see twenty thousand Polish soldiers in western Ukraine”.
The law mentioned in the analyzed articles and on Ishchenko’s blog refers to legal and social guarantees for Polish citizens residing in Ukraine. According to this law, which was voted in the Ukrainian parliament on July 28, 2022, citizens of Poland will be able to stay on the territory of Ukraine for 18 months and will have access to the same rights to work, education and healthcare as Ukrainians.
On the website of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (Ukrainian Parliament), in the press release about the proposed law, submitted by the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky on July 11, 2022, it is stated that it is about “the possibility to stay in Ukraine for 18 months from the date of entry into force of this law, which is adequate to what Ukrainians have in Poland”.
Unfounded announcements of the entry of the Polish army into Ukraine appear in the pro-Russian media as part of propaganda narratives that attempt to damage the relations between Ukraine and Poland. The web portal Stop Fake dealt with these manipulations in an analysis from May 4, 2022, in which the claims that the President of Poland Andrzej Duda hinted at the takeover of Ukraine were refuted.
We assess the claim that Ukraine has transferred gold and foreign exchange reserves to Poland, published on Webtribune, as fake news. We assess all other publications of these claims as the distribution of fake news.
We assess the title of the Informer’s article, in which Illia Kyva is quoted and presented as a Polish parliamentarian, as disinformation.
Author: Alena Beširević, Denis Čarkadžić i Ismar Milak (Raskrinkavanje.ba)