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Heroic ‘Ghost of Kyiv’ fighter pilot is a myth, says Ukraine

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The Ukrainian military officially put an end to speculation about the “Ghost of Kyiv” and admitted that the legendary pilot is in fact a myth.

“Ghost of Kiev is a superhero legend whose character was created by Ukrainians!” said the Ukrainian Air Force in a Facebook post on Saturday.

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Wreckage and debris outside a damaged shopping mall in the Podilskyi district of Kiev by Russian airstrikes.

Wreckage and debris outside a damaged shopping mall in the Podilskyi district of Kiev by Russian airstrikes.
(Ceng Shou Yi / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The concession comes after it was reported on Friday that 29-year-old Major Stepan Tarabalka, who some had credited for being the Ghost from Kyiv, was shot down and killed in combat last month.

Stories of the legendary pilot grew in the early days of Russia invasion of Ukraine, where some credited the mythical pilot for having shot down at least 40 Russian fighter jets, while Ukrainian forces defended the capital Kiev.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
(Ukrainian presidential press service / distribution via REUTERS NOTE)

Although the Ukrainian Air Force acknowledged that Tarabalka was not Kyiv’s ghost, they credited him for serving “heroically” before his death.

“Ukraine’s hero Stepan Tarabalka is NOT ‘Kiev’s ghost’ and he did NOT hit 40 planes,” the post said. “On March 13, 2022, Major Stepan Tarabalka was heroically killed in an air battle with the dominant forces of the Russian occupiers.”

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A picture of destroyed buildings and vehicles after Russian attacks on a shopping mall in Kiev, Ukraine on March 21, 2022. It is reported that 8 people were killed in the Russian attack on shopping mall.  (Photo by Emin Sansar / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

A picture of destroyed buildings and vehicles after Russian attacks on a shopping mall in Kiev, Ukraine on March 21, 2022. It is reported that 8 people were killed in the Russian attack on shopping mall. (Photo by Emin Sansar / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
(Photo by Emin Sansar / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Despite the admission that Ghost of Kyiv was not a real pilot, the Ukrainian Air Force celebrated the legend on Saturday, saying that history represents the resilience of the Ukrainian people.

“The information about the death of The Ghost of Kyiv is incorrect,” the Ukrainian Air Force said said on Twitterr. “The Ghost Of Kyiv is alive, it embodies the collective spirit of the highly skilled pilots of the Tactical Aviation Brigade, who are successfully defending Kyiv and the region.”

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