Orwellian Logic Of Corporate Censors & Government Budget Suckers

South Front

Over the past months, SouthFront, among other dissident media and analytical organizations, has been facing an increasing pressure.

In January and February, SouthFront Team became the target of a technical and media pressure campaign from Google because of our independent and critical coverage of the escalating US-Iranian conflict and its negative consequences for the stability of the Greater Middle East. (LINK 1LINK 2)

In March, it appeared that an independent point of view is now terrifying propaganda & censorship structures of the European Union. The developing economic crisis and coronavirus outbreak threw Europe in chaos, smashed the myth about the so-called Euro-Atlantic solidarity and demonstrated the failure of the EU bureaucracy to do something besides sucking budgets and selling sovereignty of European nations to the United States and the global capital. However, instead of facing the reality and starting to work to contain the real problems, EU budget suckers started searching enemies to blame for the disinformation about epic successes of Brussels in fighting against coronavirus.

The European External Action Service named southfront.org among key platforms providing ‘wrong coverage’ of the situation. The Orwellian logic of the European bureaucrats insists that if facts, real developments or history contradict their interests, they must be hidden, bury in oblivion or at least labeled enemy disinformation and propaganda.

In particular, SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence, was mentioned in a Deutsche Welle article on March 21, 2020. The article “Corona-Desinformation: immer dieselben Muster” mentions SouthFront even before huge-funded RT and Sputnik accusing our organization of spreading fake news about the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and alleging that SouthFront is a part of a Russian disinformation campaign.

Click to see the full-size image

SouthFront cannot talk on behalf of RT or Sputniknews, but in our coverage, we rely on facts. If SouthFront provides some expert opinions, it always explains them using facts and logic.

It is interesting to note that since the declaration of the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic SouthFront has not criticized actions of European national governments (Germany, France, and even Italy). A couple of times we drew attention of the audience to too emotional actions of US President Donald Trump. On the other hand, we released several indeed critical articles about the internal political situation in Russia. In all articles mentioning the medical and pandemic situation, we were referring official scientific and medical centers: the Robert Koch Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Statale di Milano University as well as other official and respected bodies from Italy, Spain, Russia and other countries.

In response to this situation, SouthFront sent Deutsche Welle’s editorial staff the following email:

Greetings, Deutsche Welle’s editorial staff!

It has been brought to our attention that our international endeavour, SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence, was mentioned in a Deutsche Welle article on March 21, 2020.

The article “Corona-Desinformation: immer dieselben Muster” mentions SouthFront alongside with RT and Sputnik accusing our organization of spreading fake news about the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and alleging that SouthFront is a part of a Russian disinformation campaign.

This claim made by the article’s author is itself fake news, which is easy to confirm by taking a closer look at the articles and videos actually published on southfront.org. In its coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and social phenomena caused by it, SouthFront always references the sources of the data used. These are the Robert Koch Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as other official and respected bodies from Italy, Spain, Russia and other countries. SouthFront is used to see accusations that we are an Iranian or Russian mouthpiece regarding the Middle East agenda.

SouthFront has never claimed that the COVID-19 outbreak is a result of a conspiracy by  “global backstage elites” or that COVID-19 has been created artificially. Indeed, we shared opinions of Global Research and ZeroHedge on the topic: https://southfront.org/coronavirus-covid-19-made-in-china-or-made-in-america/https://southfront.org/the-real-umbrella-corp-wuhan-ultra-biohazard-lab-was-studying-the-worlds-most-dangerous-pathogens/ with all references to the sources of these opinions. The publishing of these two opinion pieces from other sources does not justify the assertion that SouthFront is itself making these claims. ZeroHedge and Global Research see SouthFront as an independent reliable partner because our relations are fully transparent and noncommercial.

SouthFront’s position is that various influence groups and powers, including Russia, are now using the COVID-19 outbreak to push their own agenda. Incidentally if SouthFront has criticized any official authorities in the framework of pandemic issues, it was in fact the Russian ones: https://southfront.org/while-the-world-is-in-disarray-covid-19-is-breaking-up-russia/https://southfront.org/russia-to-halt-flights-returning-its-citizens-from-abroad-as-tens-of-thousands-still-wait-evacuation/https://southfront.org/mandatory-lockdown-in-russia-is-extended-until-april-30/

SouthFront is an international, crowdfunded endeavor uniting people with various political views from more than a dozen countries. It receives no support from any governments and corporations. We rely only on a comprehensive co-working of our multiple proactive authors and volunteers, and a fact-checking control by our big international team. SouthFront is always open for a constructive dialogue.

The SouthFront team is united by the will to provide comprehensive analysis and independent coverage of key military, survival, political and security developments around the world.

We suppose that the decision to mention SouthFront in the aforementioned Deutsche Welle article was an oversight in that the author did not take the opportunity to check his facts through a closer look at SouthFront coverage. We would hope and do assume that this was not the result of someone directly wishing to harm our organization.

In the interests of professional journalism, we ask you to investigate this situation promptly and remove the fake information forthwith.

Sincerely yours,

SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence

On April 9, Facebook placed limits on SouthFront’s page due to activities that “don’t comply with Facebook’s policies.” Apparently, this is a first thing of a new wave of war on independent media carried out corporations and bureaucrats affiliated with the global elites.

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We believe all these attacks, accusations and attempts to censor SouthFront are a strong signal that we  are on a right track. SouthFront steadily faces pressure and accusations regarding its coverage: the situation in the Middle East, the US-Iranian tensions, the US-Chinese global standoff, actions of the Russian foreign policy etc. Today, a new global issue appeared – the COVID-19 pandemic, and SouthFront is once again being targeted. This happens despite the fact that SouthFront provides a very careful coverage of the COVID-19 crisis based on facts. SouthFront understands the importance of the pandemic and social economic crisis caused by it.

Regardless of the challenges that we face, SouthFront will continue to do its best to provide you with an independent look at key military, security and political developments around the world.

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Orwellian Logic Of Corporate Censors & Government Budget Suckers
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Orwellian Logic Of Corporate Censors & Government Budget Suckers

SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence Team

NYT DISCOVERED WHO’S BEHIND U.S.’ COVID-19 PANIC: IT’S VLADIMIR PUTIN

South Front

NYT Discovered Who's Behind U.S.' COVID-19 Panic: It's Vladimir Putin

In an April 13th report, the New York Times discovered that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s long-term was turning into reality with the COVID-19 crisis in the U.S.

“As the pandemic has swept the globe, it has been accompanied by a dangerous surge of false information — an “infodemic,” according to the World Health Organization. Analysts say that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has played a principal role in the spread of false information as part of his wider effort to discredit the West and destroy his enemies from within.”

It all began on February 3rd, when the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a global pandemic, and “an obscure Twitter account in Moscow began retweeting an American blog. It said the pathogen was a germ weapon designed to incapacitate and kill.”

And it did that despite numerous scientists establishing that it was natural, and not man-made.

And, usually, Putin and his lackeys meddle in elections and so on, thus US officials have disregarded the disruptive work the “evil overlord” could have been carrying out against American science.

“His agents have repeatedly planted and spread the idea that viral epidemics — including flu outbreaks, Ebola and now the coronavirus — were sown by American scientists. The disinformers have also sought to undermine faith in the safety of vaccines, a triumph of public health that Mr. Putin himself promotes at home.”

As such, Putin is apparently also to blame for the popularity of anti-vaxxers.

In his quest to destroy America, Putin uses open media, “secretive trolls” and “shadowy blogs” that present US health officials as “patronizing frauds.”

“Of late, new stealth and sophistication have made his handiwork harder to see, track and fight.”

The YouTube videos of RT, Russia’s global television network, average one million views per day, “the highest among news outlets,” according to a U.S. intelligence report. Since the founding of the Russian network in 2005, its videos have received more than four billion views, analysts recently concluded.

And Putin uses RT to spread his propaganda.

The NYT cited Sandra C. Quinn, a professor of public health at the University of Maryland who has followed “Putin’s vaccine scares for more than a half-decade, said the Russian president was drawing on an old playbook. “

“The difference now is the speed with which it spreads, and the denigration of the institutions that we rely on to understand the truth,” she said in an interview. “I think we’re in dangerous territory.”

All of this is proved by the fact that when he was young Putin served in the KGB.

“The K.G.B. campaign — which cast the deadly virus that causes AIDS as a racial weapon developed by the American military to kill black citizens — was wildly successful. By 1987, fake news stories had run in 25 languages and 80 countries, undermining American diplomacy, especially in Africa. After the Cold War, in 1992, the Russians admitted that the alarms were fraudulent.”

After in 2008, Russia Today was rebranded to RT, to “hide its Russian origins,” the disinformation began.

During the global swine flu pandemic, it cited Wayne Madsen who claimed that the virus was engineered, by the US and not natural.

In 2010, RT America was founded, and its headquarters is near the White House.

In 2012 Mr. Putin added the military to his informational arsenal.

“His newly appointed head of the Russian Army, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, laid out a new doctrine of war that stressed public messaging as a means of stirring foreign dissent. That same year, a shadowy group of trolls in St. Petersburg began using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to fire salvos of junk information at millions of Americans.”

Then 2014 came, and Ebola, and Putin lost no time to have RT spread information that the US actually engineered the disease.

“The trolls in St. Petersburg amplified the claim on Twitter. The deadly virus “is government made,” one tweet declared. Another series of tweets called the microorganism “just a regular bio weapon.” The idea found an audience.

The hip-hop artist Chris Brown echoed it in 2014, telling his 13 million Twitter followers, “I think this Ebola epidemic is a form of population control.”

Thus, Chris Brown too is possible a Putin agent.

On March 5th, Lea Gabrielle, head of the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, which seeks to identify and fight disinformation, told a Senate hearing that Moscow had pounced on the coronavirus outbreak as a new opportunity to sow chaos and division — to “take advantage of a health crisis where people are terrified.”

“The entire ecosystem of Russian disinformation has been engaged,” she reported. Her center’s analysts and partners, Ms. Gabrielle added, have found “Russian state proxy websites, official state media, as well as swarms of online false personas pushing out false narratives.”

TASS, the Russian news agency, reported that the Foreign Ministry firmly rejected the State Department’s charge.

Regardless, “the truth” is obvious, and the reason behind the COVID-19 hysteria in the US has been discovered – and its unsurprisingly “evil overlord” Vladimir Putin, once again.

“Putin has disseminated false and alarming health narratives not only about pathogens and vaccines but also about radio waves, bioengineered genes, industrial chemicals and other intangibles of modern life. The knotty topics often defy public understanding, making them ideal candidates for sowing confusion over what’s safe and dangerous.

MORE ON THE TOPIC:

‘STRANGE TIMES’: RUSSIA IS SENDING MEDICAL AID TO U.S. TO HELP IT WITH COVID-19 CRSISIS

South Front

'Strange Times': Russia Is Sending Medical Aid To U.S. To Help It With COVID-19 Crsisis
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The COVID-19 outbreak has led to some curious changes in relations between the countries. For example, Russia is now sending medical aid to the United States.
Russia sent a plane with medical equipment to the United States amid the pandemic of COVID-19, US President Donald Trump told reporters on March 30th.
“I have to say, we’ve had great relationships with a lot of countries. China sent us some stuff,” he told reporters during a briefing at the White House. “Russia sent us a very, very large plane load of things. Medical equipment. Very nice.”
He did not go into further details about Russia’s aid.
“Other countries sent us things that I was very surprised at, very happy surprised,” the US leader continued.
🇷🇺🇺🇸 Following phone talk between Presidents & @realDonaldTrump sends largest cargo aircraft An-124 Ruslan ✈️ with 😷 medical supplies (masks + equipment) to to help fight pandemic, save lives of American citizens. 🤝 The plane is en route

612 people are talking about this
The fact that Moscow helps Washington in the situation with the coronavirus became known the day before.
The leaders of the two countries talked on the phone and noted the importance of international cooperation in a pandemic.
“The two presidents expressed serious concern over the scale of the spread of the coronavirus in the world and informed each other about measures taken in Russia and the United States to counter this threat. Opportunities for closer cooperation between the two countries on this problem were discussed.
They also exchanged views on the current state of the global oil market and agreed that Russian and American energy ministers should hold consultations on this topic.
Certain bilateral issues were also addressed.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump agreed to keep in contact.
On March 31, the Kremlin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, announced that a Russian plane with medical aid will soon depart to the United States (indicating that there could be 2 planes: 1st – delivered before March 30, 2nd – delivered after March 31). He hoped the United States might also be able to provide medical help to Russia if necessary when the time came.
“It is important to note that when offering assistance to US colleagues, the president (Putin) assumes that when US manufacturers of medical equipment and materials gain momentum, they will also be able to reciprocate if necessary,” Peskov was cited as saying.
Peskov, who noted difficulties expediting the aid to the United States thrown up by some US officials, was quoted as saying that Russia and China cooperated in a similar way because “at a time when the current situation affects everyone without exception … there is no alternative to working together in a spirit of partnership and mutual assistance”.
The Russian Aerospace Forces’ An-124-100 Ruslan set off for the United States included medical masks and medical equipment.
To add to the global anxiety regarding COVID-19, the World Health Organization has ceased to publish information on the number of people who have recovered from the infection around the world, because not all countries provide it, WHO official spokesman Tarik Yazarevich explained.
“With regard to cases of recovery outside of China, we do not have single data from various sources about how many officially confirmed cases of recovery from COVID-19, because not all countries systematically report these data to us. In many countries, people have not yet a chance to get better, so as the situation develops, we may have new data,” he said.
Yazarevich reminded that COVID-19 is a new disease, therefore it is necessary to obtain more epidemiological information on how the immunity to the virus is generated and how it can be determined that the patient has fully recovered.
According to WHO recommendations, a patient can be discharged from the hospital after conducting two negative tests at least 24 hours apart.
'Strange Times': Russia Is Sending Medical Aid To U.S. To Help It With COVID-19 Crsisis
Click to see full-size image
The current situation, as of April 1st is this: currently, the US has the most cases worldwide, sitting at 188,530, after recording 24,742 on March 31st.
Italy is 2nd, and the numbers of recorded cases appear to be gradually going down, with fatalities remaining relatively high, meaning that the peak might be drawing much closer, as initially expected.
Spain is likely to overtake Italy in the total number of cases in just a matter of days, while also recording high numbers of fatalities, but also high numbers of recoveries.
Notably, the US currently has more total cases than Italy and China combined, which until several days ago had more total cases separately.
Russia sits at 2,337 cases, and 17 fatalities, having recorded 501 new cases on March 31st, and it might appear that the measures undertaken may be justified, but time will tell.
Regardless, Moscow is providing assistance to Italy, the US, and Serbia asked for help, as well. Potentially after the COVID-19 hysteria passes, a large-scale media campaign will be required to switch the narrative to the US, or the collective “West” having dealt with the pandemic, and find out ways to accuse Russia and China of stoking it further.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:

THOMAS RÖPER ON HIS “ANTI-SPIEGEL” WRITINGS, AND ON LIFE IN RUSSIA VS. RUSSOPHOBIC STEREOTYPES

Thomas Röper is the creator of the Anti-Spiegel, a website that examines content produced by the German news site Der Spiegel for lies or misinformation.
We discuss his work, and also life in Russia, where he has lived for over 20 years.
Worthwhile listening for those wondering if perhaps the 24/7 anti-Russia rhetoric emanating from Western media and political figures might just be a bunch of nonsense.

*Apologies for the tech problems in first half, getting accustomed to the recording program.*

Follow Thomas’ work at the following links:

https://www.anti-spiegel.ru/https://twitter.com/SpiegelAnti

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC93mqUPbNmHZhl4fAVvZWpQ

CONVERSATION-RELATED LINKS:-Why I was in a police station filing a complaint:“Canadian journalist critical of protests attacked by Foreigner (American?) with anti-Russian slogans”

The dialectic of the Moscow Protests Hoax‘Fancy’ coups: US-backed workshops exposed as revolution masterclasses [VIDEO]–«Почувствовать себя в игре»: как организуют протесты в МосквеThe Interference of the West in the Affairs of Russia Through the Moscow City Duma Election

GUARDIAN, ATLANTIC CONTRIBUTOR ACTS AS A SYRIAN TERRORIST MOUTHPIECE ON TWITTER, AND IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT YOU’RE A RUSSIAN STOOGE

December 27, 2019, RT.com

-by Eva Bartlett

Eva Bartlett

Eva Bartlett is a Canadian independent journalist and activist. She has spent years on the ground covering conflict zones in the Middle East, especially in Syria and Palestine (where she lived for nearly four years).

FILE PHOTO: Al-Nusra fighter in Syria ©  AFP/ Rami Al-Sayed

Giving a sympathetic platform to a terrorist is reprehensible at best, downright criminal at worst, and definitely a bad look for a ‘respected’ media contributor. Oh, it’s for bashing Assad and the Russians? Go ahead, then.

A funny thing happened recently on Twitter. A journalist who contributes to the Guardian, Foreign Policy and the Atlantic tweeted—in a long thread peppered with photos of Abu Mohammed al-Jolani, the leader of an Al-Qaeda branch in Syria—about “the force that dominates” Idlib. Hassan Hassan’s initial tweet coyly avoided mentioning that this force is Al-Qaeda in Syria.

And no, its not just us Russian bots who say that Idlib is infested with Al-Qaeda: former US special envoy, Brett McGurk, deemed Idlib “the largest Al-Qaeda safe haven since 9/11.”

The thread smacked of giving a platform to terrorist propaganda. After extensively quoting Jolani, Hassan weighed in with his own thoughts on the situation in Syria and his Al-Qaeda “rebels”.

Aside from whitewashing designated terrorists, the point of his thread was clearly a continuation of the anti-Russia hysteria corporate journalists are so rabidly devoted to.

These latest anti-Russia, anti-Syria headlines and tweets echo those  which abounded when eastern Ghouta and Aleppo were being liberated from  terrorists. Go to Aleppo now and you’ll find a city that just celebrated  Christmas and is rebuilding, and indeed rebuilding all over Syria, in areas once occupied by terrorists.

More importantly, liberated areas are no longer ruled by fanatics who imprison, torture, starve and assassinate civilians. Syrian women I interviewed  earlier this year in Sinjar, Idlib, spoke of being tormented by  terrorists in Idlib, and called for the Syrian army to liberate all of  Idlib.

But war propagandists don’t care about those civilians…

Backslapping and Rebranding

The  same corporate media vultures who bandy about self-righteously furious  expressions for all things Russian and Syrian are normalizing terrorists  in Syria, rendering ISIS into mere militants”, “fighting for survival”, as was the case in a recent Washington Post ode to ISIS.

So the US and allies invaded Iraq under the pretext of fighting Al-Qaeda, largely destroyed that country, killed untold numbers of Iraqi civilians, maimed untold numbers more… and now the same designated terror group, Al-Qaeda, is suddenly a fuzzy li’l militant?

Likewise, a recent Bloomberg article describes the bandits ruling in Libya (with its slave markets – thanks, American humanitarian intervention!) as an “internationally recognized” government, and the terrorists heading there to create more chaos as Syrian “rebels”.

Extreme Xenophobia

Unsurprisingly, when war propagandists get called out by thinking people, they deflect blame onto Russia. A perusal of replies to Hassan’s tweets reveals many (non-Russian) people object to war propaganda and the platforms that propagate it.

Hassan  gets a sticker for his efforts to do best in the Russophobia challenge.  He went beyond merely hurling the same old unoriginal accusations at  Russia, and denigrated the entire nation as “repulsive”. Classy.

Of course, when many on Twitter pointed out his xenophobia, he scrambled to reword.

But that’s the thing about Twitter: no edits. The vitriol is out there, there’s no undoing the racism.

Blatant war propagandists like him have, for years, acted as  cheerleaders and whitewashed the civilian-murdering terrorists in Syria,  slandered  those of us who challenge war propaganda and bother to give platforms  to civilians instead of terrorists, and relentlessly hounded Russian  diplomats and media.

The Russophobia, and indeed xenophobia, has  gotten preposterous. It is Russia that is actually helping Syria fight  terrorism, it’s Russia that also sends humanitarian aid, it’s Russia  that helps open humanitarian corridors for Syrian civilians, it’s Russia  that is aiding Syria in rebuilding, and it’s Russian sappers who have  done most of the demining of areas formerly occupied by terrorists.

And it is not Russia who financed, backed, and whitewashed terrorism: that honour goes to the US and its allies.

Increasingly,  people on Twitter are calling the war orchestrators and their  propagandists out. Of course,they must all just be Russian trolls, da?

Social Media Censorship Reaches New Heights as Twitter Permanently Bans Dissent

Mnar Muhawesh speaks with journalist Daniel McAdams about being permanently banned from Twitter, social media censorship and more.

Most recently, it was revealed that Twitter’s senior editorial executive for Europe, the Middle East and Africa is an active officer in the British Army’s 77th Brigade, a unit dedicated to online warfare and psychological operations.

In other words: he specializes in disseminating propaganda.

The news left many wondering how a member of the British Armed Forces secured such an influential job in the media.

The bombshell that one of the world’s most influential social networks is controlled in part by an active psychological warfare officer was not covered at all in the New York TimesCNNCNBCMSNBC or Fox News, who appear to have found the news unremarkable.

But for those paying attention and for those who have been following ’MintPress News’ extensive coverage of social media censorship, this revelation was merely another example of the increasing closeness between the deep state and the fourth estate.

Amazon owner, and world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos was paid $600 million by the CIA to develop software and media for the agency, that’s more than twice as much as Bezos bought the Washington Post for, and a move media critics warn spells the end of journalistic independence for the Post.

Meanwhile, Google has a very close relationship with the State Department, its former CEO Eric Schmidt’s book on technological imperialism was heartily endorsed by deep state warmongers like Henry Kissinger, Hillary Clinton and Tony Blair.

In their book titled, The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business, Eric Schmidt and fellow Google executive Jared Cohen wrote:

What Lockheed Martin was to the twentieth century…technology and cyber-security companies [like Google] will be to the twenty-first.”

Another social media giant partnering with the military-industrial complex is Facebook. The California-based company announced last year it was working closely with the neoconservative think tank, The Atlantic Council, which is largely funded by Saudi Arabia, Israel and weapons manufacturers to supposedly fight foreign “fake news.”

The Atlantic Council is a NATO offshoot and its board of directors reads like a rogue’s gallery of warmongers, including the notorious Henry Kissinger, Bush-era hawks like Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, James Baker, the former head of the Department of Homeland Security and author of the PATRIOT Act, Michael Chertoff, a number of former Army Generals including David Petraeus and Wesley Clark and former heads of the CIA Michael Hayden, Leon Panetta and Michael Morell.

39 percent of Americans, and similar numbers of people in other countries, get their news from Facebook, so when an organization like the Atlantic Council is controlling what the world sees in their Facebook news feeds, it can only be described as state censorship on a global level.

After working with the council, Facebook immediately began banning and removing accounts linked to media in official enemy states like Iran, Russia and Venezuela, ensuring the world would not be exposed to competing ideas and purging dissident voices under the guise of fighting “fake news” and “Russian bots.”

Meanwhile, the social media platform has been partnering with the U.S. and Israeli governments to silence Palestinian voices that show the reality of life under Israeli apartheid and occupation. The Israeli Justice Minister proudly revealed that Facebook complied with 95 percent of Israeli government requests to delete Palestinian pages. At the same time, Google deleted dozens of YouTube and blog accounts supposedly connected to the government of Iran.

In the last week alone, Twitter has purged several Palestinian news pages, including Quds News Network — without warning or explanation.

Electronic Intifada co-founder Ali Abunimah wrote, 

This alarming act of censorship is another indication of the complicity of major social media firms in Israel’s efforts to suppress news and information about its abuses of Palestinian rights.”

 

Alternative voices not welcome

The vast online purge of alternative voices has also been directed at internal “enemies.”

Publishers like Julian Assange and whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning are still being held in solitary confinement in conditions that international bodies and human rights groups call torture, for their crime of revealing the extent of the global surveillance network and the control over the media that Western governments have built.

As attempts to re-tighten the state and corporate grip over our means of communication increases, high-quality alternative media are being hit the hardest, as algorithm changes from the media monoliths have deranked, demoted, deleted and disincentivized outlets that question official narratives, leading to huge falls in traffic and revenue.

The message from social media giants is clear: independent and alternative voices are not welcome.

One causality in this propaganda war is Daniel McAdams, Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, a public advocacy group that argues that a non-interventionist foreign policy is crucial to securing a prosperous society at home. McAdams served as Senator Paul’s foreign affairs advisor between 2001 and 2012. Before that, he was a journalist and editor for the Budapest Sun and a human rights monitor across Eastern Europe.

McAdams, who spent much of his time on Twitter calling out the war machine supported by both parties, was recently permanently banned from the platform for so-called “hateful conduct.” His crime? Challenging Fox News anchor Sean Hannity over his hour-long segment claiming to be against the “deep state,” while simultaneously wearing a CIA lapel pin. In the exchange, McAdams called Hannity “retarded,” claiming he was becoming stupider every time he watched him.

Yes, despite that word and its derivatives having been used on Twitter over ten times in the previous minute, and often much more aggressively than McAdams used it – only McAdams fell victim to Twitter’s ban hammer. Something didn’t make sense about this ban. One only needs to read the replies under any of President Trump’s tweets to see far more hateful speech than what McAdams displayed to suspect foul play.

I spoke with McAdams about the ban and began by asking him if he accepts the premise of the ban, or if he believes something else was afoot.

Feature photo | Spirit Boom Cat | Shutterstock

Mnar Muhawesh is founder, CEO and editor in chief of MintPress News, and is also a regular speaker on responsible journalism, sexism, neoconservativism within the media and journalism start-ups.

Republish our stories! MintPress News is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

Accused of Treason and Imprisoned Without Trial: Journalist Kirill Vyshinsky Recounts His Harrowing Time in a Ukrainian Prison

Eva Bartlett sat down with recently released Ukrainian journalist Kirill Vyshinsky. Vyshinsky endured 15 months of appalling conditions in a Ukrainian prison after being falsely accused of treason.

October 28th, 2019

Video

In November 2018, I became aware of the case of Kirill Vyshinsky, a Ukrainian-Russian journalist and editor imprisoned in Ukraine without trial since May 2018, accused of high treason.

Soon after, I interviewed Vyshinsky via email. He described his arrest and the accusations against him as politically-motivated, “an attempt by the Ukrainian authorities to bolster the declining popularity of [then] President [Petro] Poroshenko in this election year.” 

Vyshinsky noted that his arrest was advancing the incessant anti-Russian hysteria now prevalent among Ukrainian authorities, as he holds dual Ukrainian and Russian citizenship. He noted that the charges against him, which pertain to a number of articles he published in 2014 (none of them authored by Vyshinsky), became of interest to Ukrainian authorities and intelligence services four years after they were published. To Vyshinsky, this supports the notion that neither the articles nor their editor were a security threat to Ukraine, instead, he says, they were a political card to be played.

In early 2019, I traveled to Kiev to interview Vyshinsky’s defense lawyer Andriy Domansky about the logistic obstacles of his client’s case. Domansky viewed the Vyshinsky case as politically motivated and expressed concern that he could himself become a target of Ukraine’s secret service for his role in defending his client, an innocent man.

Domansky told me at the time,

The Vyshinsky case is key in demonstrating the presence of political persecution of journalists in Ukraine. As a legal expert, I believe justice is still possible in Ukraine and I will do everything possible to prove Kirill Vyshinsky’s innocence.”

To the surprise of those following the case against Vyshinsky, in late August 2019 he was released with little fanfare after serving more than 400 days in a Ukrainian prison but still faces all of the charges brought against him by the Ukrainian government and is “obliged to appear in court or give testimony to investigators if they deemed it necessary.”

By early September, Kirill Vyshinsky was on a plane to Moscow. Despite never being tried or officially convicted, he found himself the subject of a prisoner exchange between the Russian and Ukrainian governments.

A banner reading “Freedom to Kirill Vyshinsky” is held at a June 16, 2019 rally in Moscow. Maxim Shemetov | Reuters

I interviewed Vyshinsky in Moscow in late September. He told me about his harrowing ordeal, the Ukrainian detention system, other persecuted journalists, and what lies ahead for him.

He also touched on the inhumane conditions he experienced in Ukrainian prisons. He noted that a pretrial detention center as we know it in Western nations is a very different entity in Ukraine and that Ukrainian prisons were so over-crowded that it was common for inmates to sleep in three shifts in order to allow enough standing room for inmates crammed into a cell.

 

Ukrainian prisons like a “concentration camp”

Aleksey Zhuravko, a Ukrainian deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of V and VI convocations recently published photos taken inside of an Odessa pretrial detention center showing utterly unsanitary and appalling conditions. Zhuravko noted, “I am shocked at what was seen. It is a concentration camp. It is a hotbed of diseases.”

Another Ukrainian journalist, Pavel Volkov, was subjected to the same types of accusations lobbed against Vyshinsky. Volkov spent over a year in the same pretrial detention center as Vyshinsky. He was arrested on September 27, 2017, after Ukrainian authorities carried out searches of his wife and mother’s apartments without the presence of his lawyer and with what he says, was a false witness.

Volkov spent more than a year in a pretrial detention center on charges of “infringing on territorial integrity with a group of people” and “miscellaneous accessory to terrorism.” On March 27, 2019, he was fully acquitted by a Ukrainian court.

Volkov shared his thoughts on the persecution of journalists in Ukraine, saying:

The leaders of the 2014 Euromaidan movement, who subsequently occupied the largest positions in the country’s leadership, repeatedly stated that collaborators from World War II who participated in the mass extermination of Jews, Russians, and Poles are true heroes in Ukraine, and that the Russian and Russian-speaking population of Ukraine are inferior people who need to be either forcibly re-educated or destroyed.

They also believe that anyone who wants peace with the Russian Federation, and who believes that the Russian language (the native language for over sixty percent of Ukraine’s population) should be the second state language, is the enemy of Ukraine.

These notions formed the basis of the new criminal law, designed to persecute politicians, public figures, journalists, and ordinary citizens who disagree with the above.

Since 2014, security services have arrested hundreds of people on charges of state treason; infringing on the territorial integrity of Ukraine; and assisting terrorism for criticizing the current government in the streets or on the Internet.

People have been in prison for years without a conviction. And these are not only the journalists included in the ‘Vyshinsky list’.

Activists from Odessa, Sergey Dolzhenkov and Evgeny Mefedov, have spent more than five years in jail just for laying flowers at a memorial to the liberators of Nikolaev [Ukrainian city] from Nazi invaders.

Sergeyev and Gorban, taxi drivers, have spent two and a half years in a pretrial detention center because they transported pensioners from Donetsk to Ukraine-controlled territory so that they could receive their legal pension.

The entrepreneur Andrey Tatarintsev has spent two years in prison for providing humanitarian assistance to a children’s hospital in the territory of the Lugansk region not controlled by Ukraine.

Farmer Nikolay Butrimenko received eight years of imprisonment for paying tax to the Donetsk People’s Republic for his land located in that territory.

The 85-year-old scientist and engineer Mekhti Logunov was given twelve years because he agreed to build a waste recycling plant with Russian investors. The list is endless.

People often incriminate themselves while being tortured or under the threat of their relatives being punished, and such confessions are accepted by the courts, despite the fact that lawyers initiate criminal proceedings against the security services involved in the torture. These cases are not being investigated.

The only mitigation that has happened in this direction after the change of government was the abolition of the provision of the Criminal Procedure Code stating that no other measure of restraint other than detention can be applied to persons suspected of committing crimes against the state.

This allowed some defendants to leave prison on bail, but not a single politically-motivated case has yet been closed. Moreover, arrests are ongoing.

The only acquittal to date from the so-called journalistic cases on freedom of speech is mine. However, it is still being contested by the prosecutor’s office in the Supreme Court.

Ninety-nine percent of the media continue to call all these people ‘terrorists’, ‘separatists’, and ‘enemies of the people’, even though almost none of them have yet received a verdict in court.”

Volkov’s words lay bare the true nature of the allegations made against Kirill Vyshinsky as well as the countless other journalists and citizens of Ukraine that have fallen victim to the heavy hand of Ukrainian authorities.

Feature photo | Kirill Vyshinsky poses while covering Ukraine’s Maidan protests in 2014. Photo | Zenit-ka.ru

Eva Bartlett is a Canadian independent journalist and activist. She has spent years on the ground covering conflict zones in the Middle East, especially in Syria and occupied Palestine, where she lived for nearly four years. She is a recipient of the 2017 International Journalism Award for International Reporting, granted by the Mexican Journalists’ Press Club (founded in 1951), was the first recipient of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism, and was short-listed in 2017 for the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. See her extended bio on her blog In Gaza.

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