Fact Check: NO Ongoing Operation In Ukraine That Aims To Capture, Mobilize All Men Of Bessarabian Bulgarian Origin

проверка на факти

  • от: Lead Stories автор
Fact Check: NO Ongoing Operation In Ukraine That Aims To Capture, Mobilize All Men Of Bessarabian Bulgarian Origin No Evidence

Is there an ongoing operation of the Ukrainian Army to capture and mobilize all men of Bessarabian Bulgarian origin? No, that's not true: There is no evidence or credible reports of such a forced mobilization process focused on Ukrainian citizens of Bessarabian Bulgarian descent. According to the head of the Executive Agency for Bulgarians Abroad, Rayna Mandzhukova, Bessarabian Bulgarians are not being treated differently from the rest of Ukraine's citizens regarding the mobilization process.

The claim appeared in a video on TikTok (archived here) by @evelina_1968_bg on December 12, 2023.

The text (translated from Bulgarian to English by Lead Stories staff), reads:

Ivan Gruncharov: An operation is currently underway to capture and mobilize all men of Bulgarian origin living in the Ukrainian region of Bessarabia. There is serious resistance among the Bessarabian population of Bulgarian origin there, and there are major clashes with the Ukrainian army's mobilization teams. However, when it comes to these matters, the government in Sofia turns a blind eye and a deaf ear, as per the directive and the orders of the US ambassador in Bulgaria.

The people there know that if their children go to the front, they won't see them again, so they try to resist. But instead of support from Sofia being directed towards them, it is directed towards their oppressor - Zelenskyy.

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2023-12-18 at 9.40.49.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Mon Dec 18 07:47:14 2023 UTC)

The claim made by TikTok channels (archived here) sharing pro-Russian content can be traced back to a July 8, 2023, post on Facebook (archived here) by a user posting similar pro-Russian content. The information from the Facebook post was copied and published on July 11, 2023, (archived here) by several Bulgarian online media, one of which is known for spreading news with controversial pro-Russian content. The other media outlet that shared this information ran the article (archived here) under the subhead "Conspiracy."

It is not the first time that contradictory news has appeared related to the mobilization of the Bessarabian Bulgarians by the Ukrainian authorities. In 2014, after the annexation of Crimea by Russia, similar news (archived here) appeared online. The Bessarabian Bulgarians themselves later denied (archived here) the claims as false.

No information similar to the claim in the video on TikTok can be found on the official page of the Center of Bessarabian Bulgarians in Bulgaria or Bessarabian channels (archived here) covering news related to the war in Ukraine and concerning the Bessarabian Bulgarians. The official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria contains no news or information to support such a claim.

No evidence, official information or media reports from reliable news sites support the claim. A search (archived here) for a combination of the words "Бесарабски Българи" and "мобилизация" or "Bessarabian Bulgarians" and "mobilization" in English, performed by Lead Stories on December 18, 2023, using Google News' index of thousands of credible news sites, did not return any results.

In a television interview on the Bulgarian TV channel Bulgaria ON AIR, shown in an article dated July 13, 2023, (archived here) the head of Executive Agency for Bulgarians Abroad, Rayna Mandzhukova, commented on these claims (as translated):

The claim that Bessarabian Bulgarians are being forcibly seized at night and sent to fight is speculation. I have regular contacts on a personal level, not just at the institutional level - our fellow Bulgarians are not in less favorable conditions than all other citizens of Ukraine.

In August 2023, Bulgarian journalists from several Bulgarian media visited (archived here) 10 Ukrainian cities in the region. They met and talked with many Bessarabian Bulgarians, but local residents shared no such information. In an article dated March 20, 2023, (archived here) a Ukrainian journalist of Bessarabian Bulgarian descent told the Bulgarian media Clubz (as translated) that "there is no forced mobilization of ethnic Bulgarians in Ukraine, although all men in the country are subject to mobilization, regardless of their origin."

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