Did a Russian embassy post an antisemitic meme about Ukraine's Zelensky?

Russia's Embassy in the UK tweeted a Simpsons-type meme about Ukraine's president – with one notable, and potentially antisemitic, feature.

 Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky talks during an interview with Reuters in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 1, 2022.  (photo credit: UMIT BEKTAS/REUTERS)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky talks during an interview with Reuters in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 1, 2022.
(photo credit: UMIT BEKTAS/REUTERS)

The Russian Embassy in the UK used its Twitter account to share a Simpsons-style cartoon of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday in its iteration of the modern meme. 

However, viewers noticed something distinct about Zelensky – his disproportionately large nose, which to many resembled the antisemitic “hooked nose” trope that has found its way into antisemitic cartoons and other media since the Middle Ages.

“I will not fire missiles into Poland anymore,” the cartoon features Zelensky writing in a reference to the popular animated show The Simpsons – as well as last week's incident where a missile struck a Polish town near the Ukrainian border, killing two people.

The missile that hit Poland last week appeared to have been fired accidentally by Ukraine's air defenses – rather than a Russian strike, as originally thought – NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg has said.

Russian antisemitic attacks on Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky

 Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during an interview with Reuters, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine September 16, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/VALENTYN OGIRENKO/FILE PHOTO) Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during an interview with Reuters, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine September 16, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/VALENTYN OGIRENKO/FILE PHOTO)

Russian officials have called Zelensky and his regime Nazis since Russian President Vladimir Putin said one of the aims of Russia’s invasion was to “de-nazify” Ukraine. 

Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of Russia’s State Duma (the Federal Assembly's lower house) and a known ally of Putin, called for Ukraine’s “Nazi” President Volodymyr Zelensky to face a trial for war crimes in a Telegram post on Monday.

Zelensky is Jewish and a descendant of Holocaust survivors.

In May, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attacked Ukraine and its president during an interview in Italy, claiming that "the fact that he is a Jew does not negate the Nazi elements in his country. I believe that Adolf Hitler also had Jewish blood."

Ben Zion Gad contributed to this report.