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Was there a docuseries about the drug use of Ukraine's president and top Western leaders? No, trailer shared on social media is fake

IN SHORT: Social media users in Kenya have shared a video with the claim it is the trailer for an upcoming Hulu documentary, apparently cancelled because of pressure from the US government. But the trailer is fake.

A clip of what seems to be a trailer of an upcoming Hulu documentary series is circulating on Facebook in Kenya. It appears to be based on “unfounded and rash” decisions made by some world leaders because of drug use and is titled “Drugs. Power. Chaos.”. 

Hulu is a US-based internet streaming service. 

The trailer features world leaders, such as former US president Barack Obama and former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, talking about their marijuana use. It also includes Canadian, UK and US politicians admitting to having used cocaine. 

It then shows Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy being interviewed, with subtitles claiming he admits to being a heavy cocaine user. The trailer says the documentary will expose Zelenskyy’s “enslavement” to cocaine. 

Zelenskyy has risen to international prominence since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, making many appeals to the rest of the world, particularly Western countries, to support Ukraine against Russian forces. This has also made him the target of pro-Russian propaganda

The clip was shared on Facebook in Kenya, and by a prominent X user with millions of followers (X is the social media platform formerly known as Twitter). A later tweet claimed that Hulu was forced to cancel the series at the request of the US Department of Homeland Security.

But was such a docuseries made, only to be cancelled because of pressure from the US government? We checked.

KenyaHulu_PFalse

Original clips taken out of context

Africa Check found the original clips of the leaders featured in the trailer, talking about marijuana and cocaine use. In the original clips Obama and Turnbull talk about having used marijuana when they were younger. 

Recreational use of marijuana is allowed in several states in the US and in some other countries

Other clips from the trailer, of politicians admitting to using cocaine, are also available here, here and here

But the part about Zelenskyy using cocaine is false. This particular clip has already been fact-checked by multiple fact-checking organisations. The Ukrainian leader was talking about liking coffee, but the clip is edited to appear as if he’s talking about an addiction to cocaine. 

The trailer also claims the docuseries is directed by “Crime + Punishment  director Stephen T. Meing”. But this director’s surname is Maing. It is unlikely that a Hulu trailer could misspell a director’s name. 

The trailer features a voiceover, which appears to be that of US actor Elijah Wood. But it’s very different from his actual voice at the 1 minute 17 second mark, which was taken from this YouTube video here. The voice in the trailer is a fake simulated overlay, except for the part where he’s seated in front of a camera and says: “I am Elijah Wood.”

We also found that the trailer was mainly spread by a Russian user of the messaging app Telegram, and was further spread by a known Russian propagandist. The trailer’s main focus is to show Zelenskyy negatively, using various clips, such as this one, from his previous career as a comedic actor. They are taken out of context to portray him as being under the influence of cocaine while in office, but there is no evidence for this. This suggests the trailer is propaganda in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

The video is not a trailer for a real documentary, and there is no evidence such a documentary exists.

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