Ukrainian TV’s Contentious Invite is Just a Joke

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A video making rounds on social media shows a Ukrainian TV presenter humorously encouraging unmarried women to cohabit with unmarried men as a means to save electricity and heating. Despite what is being claimed online, this video is intended as a joke.

Photo:Prostooleh, Freepik

On December 10, 2023, a video surfaced on Facebook featuring a segment from a Ukrainian television news program. It shows the host of the show speaking in Ukrainian with English subtitles. The video was shared with a description stating that “Ukraine is experiencing an energy shortage” and a quote from the video that says: “We are asking all single women to move in with unmarried men”.

Photo: Screenshot/Facebook

In the top left corner of the video, you can spot a label that reads “THE AUSSIE COSSACK.”

On the same day, the video was posted on another Facebook account. Then, on December 16, 2023, it appeared on two Telegram channels with Croatian subtitles and the following description:

UkroTV “asks all single women to move in with single men”. The reason is the lack of electricity and power outages in more than half a thousand settlements in Ukraine.

Photo: Screenshot/Telegram

Croatian subtitles state the following:

“An important message regarding the thermal and electrical energy conservation regime. All unmarried women are requested to move in with the unmarried men. Please do not ignore this message and pass it on to all your loved ones”.

The video garnered over 3,800 views across all the mentioned posts.

What Are the Facts?

Aussie Cossack” is the moniker of Simeon Boikov, a figure referred to as a “pro-Putin propagandist” by The Sydney Morning Herald, an Australian newspaper. An internet search yields multiple analyses by global fact-checking organizations addressing inaccurate assertions linked to Boiko (12345).

The video featuring the Ukrainian presenter was posted on December 9, 2023, on the Aussie Cossack Telegram account and has garnered nearly 33,000 views.

search for screenshots from the video on Yandex reveals that the presenter featured works for the First City TV channel in Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine. A review of this media outlet’s TikTok page uncovered a video, posted on December 8, 2023, which appeared to be a ‘request’ to single women. However, it was identified as a segment intended for humor. The First City TV channel regularly posts satirical journalistic reports on their TikTok account, styled to mimic real news broadcasts. For instance, one of their videos humorously claims that ‘scientists have found washing your hands also cleans your feet,’ and another jests about a ‘new virus best treated with pepper vodka.’

On December 11, 2023, Stop Fake, a Ukrainian fact-checking organization, analyzed the video that was alleged to show Ukrainian television suggesting that unmarried women should live with unmarried men. Their analysis clarified that this video is, in fact, a humorous piece, not a serious advisory. This joke has been making rounds on the internet since at least October 2022 (12).

The resurgence of this joke in Ukraine can probably be attributed to the widespread power outages experienced at the beginning of December last year. On December 3, 2023, the Kyiv Independent reported significant power disruptions affecting approximately 500 households due to severe weather, with an additional 400 households losing power as a result of Russian attacks.

Accordingly, the first publication of a video with a “request” for unmarried women in Ukraine to move in with unmarried men, without mentioning that it is humorous content, is rated as fake news. Other posts without such a note are rated as the dissemination of fake news.

(Author: Maida Salkanović,