Fact Check-Video of Ukrainian police dropping riot shields has nothing to do with COVID-19

Thousands of social media users have mistaken a seven-year-old video from Ukraine for one related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 40-second clip, shared in early September, shows police officers in Ukraine’s southern port city Odessa dumping their riot shields in the street and walking away (here , here , here and here). It has been suggested by Facebook and Twitter users who have a history of posting content against COVID-19 and vaccine policies to show police siding with protesters against “medical apartheid”.

This phrase has been repeatedly used throughout the pandemic for a number of reasons, whether in relation to COVID-19 restrictions, or vaccines and vaccine passports (here , here and here).

However, the video was captured in May 2014, more than seven years before the pandemic, and was related to pro-Russian unrest in Odessa in the wake of the Ukrainian revolution (here , here and here). The video has nothing to do with claims of “medical apartheid” in any sense.

As one of Europe’s poorest countries, Ukraine has been slower with its COVID-19 vaccination programme than others on the continent.

It has so far administered 10.7 million doses, which is enough to inoculate around 12.1% of its population (here) – and has accepted vaccine donations from other countries, including Poland and Denmark (here and here).


Miscaptioned. The video was filmed in Odessa, Ukraine, in 2014 – seven years before the COVID-19 pandemic.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.