“Lawyer” Oleksandr Shavlyuk has millions of views on YouTube. He tells how to avoid mobilization. In fact, heʼs not a lawyer, but a liar and anti-vaxer. Hereʼs more about him

Oleksandr Miasyshchev
Yuliana Skibitska
“Lawyer” Oleksandr Shavlyuk has millions of views on YouTube. He tells how to avoid mobilization. In fact, heʼs not a lawyer, but a liar and anti-vaxer. Hereʼs more about him

Поліна Семенова / Катерина Бандус / «Бабель»

At the end of January, a short clip “Territorial Recruit Center of Vinnytsia is looking for people generous with money” hit YouTube trend. In the video, an unknown woman is simply on the street filming several employees of the Vinnytsia TRC (territorial recruit center), who, according to her, are "looking for a victim." The clip was published by the "Shavlyuk Mediakor" channel. At the time of publication, it has collected more than 700 000 views. This is not a record for the channel. There are videos which have millions of views. In total, “Shavlyuk Mediakor” has almost 300 000 subscribers. Vinnytsia activist and "human rights defender" Oleksandr Shavlyuk hosts the channel. He is perhaps the most popular Ukrainian "expert" on mobilization issues. Shavlyuk tells his audience about the "atrocities" of the TRC, "horror" in the army and illegal mobilization. The description of the channel states that it is made by "a team of professional journalists, lawyers who have proven their professionalism in practice in higher courts." In fact, Shavlyuk manipulates facts, incites and outright lies in his videos. Babel correspondent Oleksandr Myasishchev researched the channel and Shavlyukʼs biography and tells why the advice of the "lawyer" should not be trusted.

Oleksandr Shavlyuk is 39 years old and lives in the Vinnytsia region. According to him, he is a master of law, has more than 16 years of experience in jurisprudence and has conducted "dozens of high-profile cases." After the 2014 elections, Shavlyuk was an assistant to deputy of the Vinnytsia Regional Council from the UKROP party Oleksiy Borodiy. Later, in 2020, he himself ran for the Vinnytsia City Council from the “Volya” party, but lost.

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According to YouControl, Shavlyuk owns the law firm “PravoExpoGrup Shavlyuk and Partners”. From 2015 to 2018, he represented the interests of people in court, but now Shavlyuk is not a lawyer, his data is not in the Unified Register of Lawyers of Ukraine. However, the media, in particular the website espresso.tv, called it that way in 2021. And Shavlyukʼs TikTok is still called "Jurist Advokat Ukraine".

Before the beginning of the great war, the blogger was known only in Vinnytsia. And not in the best way. At first, he was remembered for the rally against Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) in 2018. Shavlyuk called on the people of Vinnytsia to rally against the "split" in Orthodox and stressed that the UOC MP is the only and autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

In 2020, in the wake of quarantine restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, Shavlyuk became a blogger. At first, his YouTube channel "Yurexpert" with 15 thousand subscribers had legal videos — how to pay off loans and debts for communal services. But quite quickly, Covid-19 became the main topic. Shavlyuk actively criticized and ignored the quarantine, considered it a violation of his rights, and in principle did not wear masks in public places. He claimed that parents would be deprived of their parental rights and their children forcibly removed for refusing vaccination. Vaccines, in his opinion, killed people.

"At first they put muzzles on us, and everyone humbly put them on. The mask was only the first stage of the development of this outrage," Shavlyuk noted.

When Shavlyukʼs channel was blocked on TikTok for such videos, he said that there is a "one-party communist dictatorship" in Ukraine, as well as tax and communal genocide.

"Under such conditions, it is not Ukraine that turns out to be democratic, but Russia. After all, in ʼOdnoklassnikiʼ you can say anything and no one will block you. And in Ukraine, Facebook or YouTube block channels only because they do not follow the same politics and religion," Shavlyuk said in the video.

Real popularity came to Shavlyuk already after a full-scale invasion. He condemned Russiaʼs attack and said it was important to preserve human rights during war. Since then, Shavlyuk began to tell how subpoenas should be issued, who can receive them, and how to communicate with police and TRC employees.

Already in July 2022, he created the Shavlyuk Mediacor news agency, which is "intended to fight lawlessness and corruption." He now has almost 300 000 subscribers and 90 million views on YouTube. Shavlyuk has several million more views on TikTok. According to him, a group of journalists is working on the channel, but it is unknown who pays for their work, Shavlyuk does not comment on this issue. His Patreon has 20 people who will donate $72 per month.

The most popular videos on the "Shavlyuk Mediakor" channel have up to a million views. In them, a "human rights defender" talks about the "horror" in the Armed Forces and shows the appeal of soldiers who were "sent as meat." In one of the videos, the soldiers complain that they were left to fend for themselves, were "thrown as meat" and are suspected of desertion. In other clips, Shavlyuk shows how the TRC distributes summonses, "hunts" for men, detains them and breaks into houses.

"Through this, the Ukrainian TRC shows that it is ʼworse than the Orks,ʼ" says Shavlyuk.

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In his blogs, Shavlyuk actively advertises his closed Telegram group with paid access (450 hryvnias per month). There, he offers consultations and ready-made forms of documents to challenge the actions of the TRC, in particular, the delivery of summonses.

Shavlyuk himself also received a summons. He convinces that it was handed over illegally, not at the place of registration. He also threatens the Military Commissariat with legal proceedings. And he assures that they want to kill him in this way.

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In his videos, Shavlyuk often openly lies. For example, he says that all women are obliged to register for the military, so that later they can be sent to war. In fact, this is not so — only representatives of the medical field should be registered. For others, it is a voluntary option.

Shavlyuk also says that TRCs do not have the right to issue subpoenas. For example, the employees of city TRCs do not have appropriate certificates, and the structures themselves are not legal entities. Such statements were officially denied by the Ground Forces. They explained that legal entities are only TRCs of the regions, Crimea, Sevastopol and Kyiv. City and district TRCs are their branches and have the same rights.

One of Shavlyukʼs most popular videos is "Fighters of the Armed Forces of Ukraine started a riot! They are going to Kyiv to the Maidan!". In it, he says that "if we do not stop the arbitrariness of the authorities, a lot of blood will be spilled, people are already on the brink." In fact, the video is about a conflict between an unknown serviceman and the leadership of the Tomashpil village, which the serviceman suspects of corruption.

And Shavlyuk says that the TRC prohibits Ukrainians from getting married.

In Vinnytsia, "activist and human rights defender" Oleksandr Shavlyuk is a scandalous figure. According to a local journalist, who asked not to be named (to avoid problems with Shavlyuk), he often insults the military.

"He speculates on what people donʼt like and shows that the whole country is corrupt and there is no point in fighting," says the journalist.

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Shavlyuk also has many public conflicts with the police and TRC in Vinnytsia. He claims that the police and collaborators even pointed Russian missiles at his house.

"In my memory, he lied several times about the attack on himself. He wrote to me with incomprehensible threats and insults," the editor of the Vinnytsia publication "20 Minutes" Vadim Pavlov tells Babel.

Babel tried to talk to Shavlyuk, wrote him and called him. The administrator of his agency asked to send an official request. When we received it, we were told that it was confidential information that did not relate to a specific case.

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