The claim: A video shows Slovak lawmakers pouring water on the Ukrainian flag
Slovakia is a NATO member whose government has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But some social media users are sharing a clip of Slovak lawmakers pouring water on a Ukrainian flag to suggest otherwise.
“Slovakia say no to NATO,” reads the caption of a March 12 Facebook video.
The footage, which generated more than 1,0000 views in several weeks, shows politicians at a meeting holding a Slovak flag as they pour water on a Ukrainian flag. The same video circulated with similar captions on Facebook and Twitter.
“Slowly, but surely, one by one, the country is turning to Russia,” one Twitter user wrote in a March 9 tweet. “Slovakia said No to NATO!!! You will not see this in the media that the West pays for!”
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The video is authentic and shows opposition lawmakers in Slovakia. However, it was captured weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine, as independent fact-checking organizations have reported. Slovakia’s government has supported Ukraine.
USA TODAY reached out to the Facebook users who shared the post for comment.
Video predates Russian invasion
The incident shown in the video took place Feb. 8 during a meeting in which members of the Slovak Parliament voted on a defense cooperation agreement with the United States, according to the Slovak Spectator.
At the time, Peter Krupa and Andrej Medvecky – members of the far-right People’s Party Our Slovakia, who opposed the treaty – held up a Slovak flag and poured water on a Ukrainian flag that was unveiled by coalition lawmakers. TASR, a Slovak news outlet, shared footage of the debate to YouTube.
The treaty, which passed 79-60, allows for the U.S. military to use Slovak air bases for 10 years. In return, Slovakia receives $100 million in funding from the U.S. to modernize military infrastructure, the Associated Press reported.
The social media posts suggest Slovakia is against Ukraine. But Slovakia Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad apologized for the incident, and the government itself has expressed support for Ukraine throughout the conflict.
“As a citizen of the Slovak Republic, I am ashamed of this inexcusable gesture and as a representative of the Slovak Government, I and my colleagues oppose such behavior,” Nad wrote in a Feb. 8 Facebook post, according to a Facebook translation. “I sincerely apologize to Ukraine for the gesture on the part of the opposition, which has no time and place in our society!”
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Slovakia approved assistance to Ukraine in February and has offered to deploy air defenses. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees have fled to Slovakia, and its government has provided military aid packages.
Our rating: Missing context
Based on our research, we rate MISSING CONTEXT the claim that a video shows Slovak lawmakers pouring water on the Ukrainian flag, because without additional details it may be misleading. The incident took place prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The video shows opposition lawmakers during a debate about a military defense treaty. Slovakia is a NATO member and has offered support to Ukraine.
Our fact-check sources:
- Associated Press, March 28, Video of Slovak politicians pouring water on Ukrainian flag misrepresented
- Reuters, March 25, Fact Check-Video of opposition Slovak lawmakers pouring water on Ukrainian flag predates Russian invasion
- The Slovak Spectator, Feb. 9, MPs poured water on Ukrainian flag, Ukraine demands apology
- Associated Press, Feb. 8, Slovaks protest defense treaty with US as lawmakers debate
- YouTube, Feb. 8, NRSR: Vlajky, oblievanie vodou a píšťalky, aktuálne dianie v parlamente
- Associated Press, Slovakia lawmakers approve defense military treaty with US
- Jaroslav Nad, Feb. 8, Facebook post
- NATO, Aug. 13, 2020, NATO Member Countries
- Politico, Feb. 27, Slovakia pushes for ‘special track’ for Ukraine toward joining EU
- Washington Post, March 17, Slovakia will send Ukraine S-300 air defenses ‘immediately’ if NATO backfills its weapons
- Reuters, March 3, Slovakia increases military aid for Ukraine
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