No, this is not a photo of the burning of Bulgarian flag in Kyiv

  • The photo with a burnt Bulgarian flag being shared on Facebook is not from Ukraine in 2015, but from the Macedonian village of Vevchani in 2021.

“2015. The Bulgarian flag is burning in Kyiv. Now they pray, for help. We Bulgarians are asked to stand against Russia, which freed us from 5 centuries of slavery. Glory to Russia. I do not betray my brothers. I don’t agree with the war, but I can’t stand against Russia either!”. (Translation from Bulgarian)

This text, accompanied by the same photo, is being shared by Bulgarian Facebook users.

One of these publications was reported to Factcheck.bg by reader Mihail Atanasov. The verification shows that the same photo, accompanied by the same text, has been posted by different users since March 2022, more actively in December 2022. Thus, a significant total number of interactions (reactions, comments and shares) has been achieved – over 2500.

Verification using the tools of the WeVerify platform shows that the photo has been cropped and further manipulated – in the right part of the manipulated photo there is a thin light line that is not part of the original. In its original horizontal format, a Macedonian flag is visible in the upper right corner – in the cropped version it is missing.

The story of the photo

On January 14, 2021, information began to appear on a number of Bulgarian news websites about a burnt Bulgarian flag in the village of Vevchani in the territory of the Republic of North Macedonia during an annual traditional festival.

The carnival in Vevchani is three days long, and on the last day the carnival masks are traditionally burned. The burning of the Bulgarian flag also takes place on the same day.

In the broadcast of Bulgarian and Macedonian TV channels, footage of the burning of the Bulgarian flag can be seen, which coincides with the photo from the Facebook post.

The next day, the then Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, Ekaterina Zaharieva, ordered the Bulgarian ambassador in Skopje, Angel Angelov, to express our country’s strong indignation at this act of vandalism.

Quick reactions followed from the Macedonian authorities. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of North Macedonia and the president Stevo Pendarovski publish their statements on Facebook, in which they are disturbed by what happened in the village of Vevchani.

On January 16, 2021, it became clear that the prosecutor’s office in North Macedonia filed a case for a possible criminal offense of defamation of a foreign country under Article 181 of the country’s Criminal Code.

Three natural persons have been held responsible for the act of vandalism. In March of the same year, the prosecution proposed that the three defendants be fined – 7000 euros for one of them and 5000 euros for the other two.

Fact checked:

The photo of a burnt Bulgarian flag, which is circulating among Bulgarian Facebook users, is not from Kyiv in 2015. The circulating image has been cropped and further manipulated, and the accompanying text does not correspond to the truth. The photo is from January 2021, when during a carnival in the village of Vevchani, Republic of North Macedonia, the Bulgarian flag was burned in an act of vandalism.

Translated by Vanessa Nikolova


Посланикът ни в Скопие: Издирва се лицето, подпалило българското знаме във Вевчани: https://bntnews.bg/news/poslanikat-ni-v-skopie-izdirva-se-liceto-podpalilo-balgarskoto-zname-vav-vevchani-1091545news.html
МВнР реагира на публикации за изгорен български флаг в Северна Македония: https://bnr.bg/horizont/post/101404954/mvnr-reagira-na-publikacii-za-izgoren-balgarski-flag-v-severna-makedonia
Пендаровски и МНР го осудија палењето на бугарското знаме на карневалот во Вевчани: https://meta.mk/pendarovski-i-mnr-go-osudija-palenjeto-na-bugarskoto-zname-na-karnevalot-vo-vevchani/
Општина Вевчани го осуди палењето на бугарското знаме: https://www.slobodnaevropa.mk/a/31048100.html
Бугарија упати демарш до МНР поради запалено бугарско знаме во Вевчани: https://24.mk/details/bugarija-upati-demarsh-do-mnr-poradi-zapaleno-bugarsko-zname-vo-vevchani-2
Пендаровски: Палењето на бугарското знаме во Вевчани е недопустливо и за осуда: https://www.mkd.mk/makedonija/politika/pendarovski-palenjeto-na-bugarskoto-zname-vo-vevchani-e-nedopustlivo-i-za-osuda
Македонският президент осъди изгарянето на българското знаме: https://bnr.bg/horizont/post/101405143
Прокуратурата в Струга е завела дело за изгарянето на български флаг във Вевчани: https://bnr.bg/horizont/post/101405709/prokuraturata-v-struga-e-zavela-delo-za-izgaraneto-na-balgarski-flag-vav-vevchani
Case starts over burning of Bulgarian flag in North Macedonia’s Vevchani: https://bnr.bg/en/post/101405746?page_1_4=3
Прокуратурата в Струга иска солени глоби за подпалвачите на българското знаме в Република Северна Македония: https://bnr.bg/post/101437672/soleni-globi-za-podpalvachite-na-balgarskoto-zname-v-republika-severna-makedonia
Државниот врв со осуда за палењето на бугарското знаме во Вевчани по реакциите од Бугарија: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQp85hCXLH8

Публикацията е създадена с подкрепата на Европейския съюз. Отговорността за съдържанието е изцяло на Factcheck.bg.

Vanessa Nikolova
Vanessa Nikolova
Vanessa Nikolova graduated in journalism from the Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski". She has worked as an editor and translator in print and online media. She is interested in topics related to the Western Balkans and the Far East, including the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. She is passionate about astronomy and astrophysics, and one of her goals as a journalist is to make science more accessible and interesting for the average reader. Works with English, Spanish, Italian, French, Russian, Serbian and Korean languages.

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