A poem allegedly written by Shevchenko is circulating online
No, this “poem” cannot be attributed to Taras Shevchenko. Its authorship remains unknown, but the first and most active dissemination occurred through the Solomiya Ukrainets community, known for spreading both fakes and pro-russian narratives.
A poem attributed to Taras Shevchenko is circulating online (see screenshot) with an accompanying text criticizing the Ukrainian government. The poem implies that the government devalues the lives of “ordinary Ukrainians” by throwing them into the war, asserting that “the constitution is only for the poor.”
“With these words, the Kobzar seemed to be looking into the future and foreseeing the current situation in Ukraine,” some bot-like users argue.
As you may have guessed, Shevchenko has no connection to this poem. Literary critics can discern this through both style and content. To reinforce this point, here are a few other arguments.
We conducted a search on the Taras Shevchenko research and educational web portal using relevant keywords and phrases. But, our search yielded no results similar to the lines in the screenshot.
Even a basic Google search failed to produce anything remotely related to the query, except for conspiracy theories like those discussed in this text.
The true author or authors of these lines remain unknown. Some attribute them to the “contemporary poetess Solomiya Ukrainets,” described officially as a “young journalist from Lutsk.” A user under this name did, indeed, post a video on social media containing the words, “the poor man cries, the rich man steals.”
This video was released on October 13, shortly after news circulated about a former prosecutor and a former employee of the State Bureau of Investigation celebrating their lavish wedding in Lviv.
The timing suggests that the “poetic fake” was orchestrated to favour russia and create divisions within Ukrainian society.
We tried to get in touch with the person who manages Solomiya Ukrainka’s social media accounts, but with no success.
Back in 2018, the civil network OPORA asserted that “the active Facebook user Solomiya Ukrainets doesn’t actually exist.” The community accumulates “likes” through beautiful patriotic pictures, Ukrainian landscapes, posts about heroes, and poetry. But, in the midst of this “beauty”, it also disseminates disinformation, anti-Semitism, and sentiments such as “everything’s lost,” “the third Maidan,” and “shooting the profiteers.”
In 2018, the community had around 309,000 readers, which has since grown to 1.2 million readers. Only a few reviews were critical: some people wrote that it was a fake account; others wrote even in English, stating: “This is a fake profile aimed at only sharing posts close to russian propaganda.”. However, Facebook rules didn’t consider proximity to “russian propaganda” as grounds for sanctions against this “Solomiya.”
In 2020, writer Volodymyr Yeshkilev highlighted the fraudulent nature of “Solomiya”, stating, “It has almost nothing to do with literature. This is a phenomenon of a different format. But the question is not about the phenomenon, but about the hundreds of thousands of Facebook users who want to take holy communion from this warm and friendly source. It’s about the ‘like’ readers who distribute them to ‘like’ collectors with a light heart.”
Writer Ostap Ukrainets emphasized that “during a political hype season, if you encounter a seemingly relevant quote from Shevchenko or Franko, it will definitely NOT be a quote from Shevchenko or Franko. It’s either an anonymous person browsing the Internet or a comrade major from the FSB. Most likely it’s a comrade major from the FSB, because very often these quotes are so provocative that if you refer to the ‘authoritative figures’ like Shevchenko and Franko, the quote will clearly read as a trashy fake. And you can’t argue with such ‘authoritative’ voices, because who are you and who is Shevchenko?”