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Claims that a viral picture showed Ukrainian children celebrating Adolf Hitler’s birthday have been officially debunked.

Fact-checkers at Reuters looked into an image that was circulating online and claimed to show schoolchildren celebrating the Nazi leader’s birthday in Lviv, Ukraine.

Social media users said the children were standing in lines forming the shape of a Swastika to mark Hitler’s birthday on 20th April.

One person on Facebook posted the image and wrote: “THERE IS NO NAZISM IN UKRAINE. This is Lviv. Just schoolchildren. Just celebrated Hitler's birthday 20 April, In Ukraine, in which, as you know, there is no Nazism.”

Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin has falsely claimed that his troops invaded Ukraine to “de-Nazify” the country, continually calling it a special military operation and refusing to refer to it as a war.

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But, a reverse image search from Reuters revealed that the image dates back to April 2016 and was taken in Russia on “Cosmonaut Day”.

Reuters were able to geo-located the image to the Russian city of Penza where it was taken outside a youth house.

As well as being taken in Russia, Reuters found the image had nothing to do with Hitler’s birthday or Nazism, either.

The individuals in the picture are actually lined up to spell out the number 55 to mark the anniversary of Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s first manned mission outside of Earth, according to news reports from the day.

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered. To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. To sign the petition click here. If you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

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