Antifake / Factcheck

15 February 2023

Top 5 Fake news of the week: Zimbabwe is the world’s leader in lithium reserves

The fake appeared amid talks about Lukashenka negotiating about Lithium in favor of Russia, where the production of lithium-ion batteries is under threat there due to the western sanctions.

Zimbabwe is the world’s leader in lithium reserves, reported the head of the ONT channel Marat Markov on air of “Belarus-1”. The statement was meant to explain the purpose of Lukashenka’s recent official visit to Zimbabwe.

“It’s clear, there is lithium. The world’s first place in its reserves and exports. This is something that no economy of any country can go without” said Markov.

Lithium cannot be overemphasized indeed. For example, it is used in the auto industry for battery production for electric vehicles. Zimbabwean local media reported about Lukashenka’s interest in it, despite its rise in value and apart from tractors’ and harvesters’ export.  

Although Marat Makarov exaggerates the share of Zimbabwe in the world’s lithium reserves. According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s report published in January, 2023, the largest producers of lithium are Australia, Chile and China. Zimbabwe finds itself in 6th place.  However, Lithium exploration is being carried out worldwide. For now the largest deposits are located in Bolivia, Argentina and the USA. Zimbabwe ranks in the second ten.

The fake appeared amid talks about Lukashenka negotiating about Lithium in favor of Russia, where the production of lithium-ion batteries is under threat there due to the western sanctions. Nonetheless, lithium deposits in Russia are larger than those in Zimbabwe, although they haven’t been developed yet.

A senior citizen in Latvia pays € 1400 for utilities and still lives in a freezing apartment. This serious concern for Latvians’ wellbeing was expressed by the telegram channel “Zheltye slivy” also known as “Yellow plums” or “Yellow leaks”:

“In case you don’t know, this man in eye-glasses used to be a famous politician. Villis Kristopans was a Latvian prime minister in 90s, although not for a long time. Besides he held a number of other public offices. Today he is a retiree and doesn’t like it. Because the temperature in his apartment is 12°C (53 °F). But the energy company doesn’t give a damn about the cold. The utility bill in December was impressive - € 1400”.

The man in the video is indeed a former Prime minister of Latvia. But one could hardly call him a regular senior citizen. He is still a deputy in the Parliament of Latvia and one of the leaders of the Party “Latvia First”. He is also a businessman, who happens to have shares in 2 companies and sits on the board of 3 others. He doesn’t live in an apartment, but rather in a house 1525 square meters in size, as he stated himself in a comment below his video in Tik Tok. He has been trying to sell this house for $5 million, now for $ 3 million, but to no avail. He complained in his interviews that there are no more people in Latvia rich enough to buy it. His quote is as follows:

“One must have a $1 million business to live in a house like that”.

Actually, the topic of expensive utilities in the West is one of the most beloved in Belarusian media. Coincidentally or not, the news appeared right before the Belarussians had to pay their own January utility bills. It also coincided with tariff increases for gas and electricity. The prices for utilities in a standard two-room apartment in Belarus will rise by 10 BYN. 

The political scientist Vadzim Elfimau and IT-specialist Ilya Begun were outraged by the EU’s inaction. “While Belarus and Russia are helping Turkey to cope with the consequences of the earthquake, the EU remains silent”, they stated on the YouTube channel of the news agency “Minsk News”.  The quote:

“And note, the leaders of our countries were the first ones to reach out. The news appeared in the afternoon that Putin had called Turkish and Syrian officials and offered help. They accepted. In turn, Belarus also reacted today, but a bit later. (…) And Europeans claimed that no one had reached out to them. (…) And reaching out offering help on their own was not an option”.

In truth, the program aired on the day of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, on Monday, February 6th. By 14 PM (Minsk time zone) the President of Turkey Recep Erdogan had already claimed to have received offers of help from 45 countries, including NATO and EU.

According to the media the first rescuers that came to Turkey were from Japan, Germany and Israel. Belarus sent 64 rescuers divided into 2 groups. The first one went to Turkey in the morning on February 8th. The second group departed on February 9th.

By that time search and rescue teams from many other countries had already been working there.  The largest ones came from Azerbaijan (over 700 people), as well as France, India and Israel. The EU countries sent 1650 rescuers there and more than 100 search dogs. € 6.5 million will be provided for Turkey-Syria earthquake victims.

The President of Ukraine Uladimir Zelensky asks Turkey for money even in its time of need. To confirm it, the state-run news agency of Mahiliou posted the alleged tweet by the Ukrainian President in their telegram channel:

“Even during the tragedy Zelenski doesn’t get lost and asks for money while expressing condolences. ‘My condolences to the whole Turkish nation’, he writes. ‘I’m sure they will be able to overcome everything and will not stop supplying Ukraine’.”

In fact, the content of Zelensky’s tweet was different. He expressed his condolences to the Turkish nation and offered his help to cope with the consequences of the disaster.

Moreover, Ukraine did send its search and rescue team consisting of 90 rescuers, which is more than Belarus has sent,  to Turkey, where they are now removing the debris and pulling people out.

Belarus is the most hockey oriented country. One can practice hockey here absolutely for free, while it is considered an expensive sport in other countries, claims the senator and the coach of Lukashenka’s hockey team Dzmitry Baskau on the “Belarus-1”channel.  His quote is as follows:

“I used to live in America, I played in Canada, and I’ve traveled across half of Europe. And I saw how hard it is to raise a kid as a hockey player there. Because it is very expensive. I can give an example of one of the players, who used to play in Dinamo Minsk. (…) His father said he used to spend $50.000 or even more to pay for ice, equipment, all the tournaments and the coach. All these things are provided free of charge in our country”.

This statement contradicts the article “How much does it cost to raise a son as a hockey-player? Parents share their experience” published by a state-run news agency BelTA in 2021 According to the article it costs no less than 7000 BYN or $2500 per year.

Free lessons are supposed to be provided only in state specialized Children and Youth Schools of the Olympic Reserve. But the equipment must be purchased anyway, which estimated cost is around 1000 BYN for a regular player and 40-50% higher for a goalkeeper.

The same prices are mentioned by the parents in the BelTA interview. Additionally, extra classes with a coach that are necessary for children to learn how to ice-skate, cost around 400 BYN.  Taking part in a competition costs 260 BYN and they take place once or twice per month. The price for training summer camps varies from $300 to $1000. Together they make up the final price. It proves that the affordability and the “free-of-charge basis” were greatly exaggerated.

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