Conditions was never great for journalists in Ukraine - the interviewee Anatoly Sharij faced judicial persecution since 2011 - but post-Maidan things have somehow gotten even worse
- “They [the government] have recreated [the great Stalinist purge of] 1937”
- "The problem of what is happening right now is that the state had stopped to play by the rules."
- "As it turns out all oligarchs own the TV channels. The only place lay person can find some truth is in the internet."
- "we see supposedly pro-Ukrainian propaganda, which in reality is not pro-Ukrainian but pro-State propaganda"
This article originally appeared at Global Research
A chill has settled over journalists living and working in Ukraine.
As reported by Amnesty International, a number of journalists in the country have been facing harrassment from authorities. Prominent blogger Ruslan Kotsaba for example, was arrested on February 7 in a town 130 km southeast of Lviv. He was charged with “high treason” on March 31, and sentenced with up to 15 years in prison. His crime? Posting a video describing the conflict in the south and east of the country as “the Donbas fratricidal civil war” and expressing opposition to the military conscription of Ukrainians to take part in the offensive.
On April 7, the Security Bureau of Ukraine detained two bloggers with the independent political site “Voice of Odessa.” One of the women had her personal computer, telephone and personal belongings seized during the raid. On that same day, the SBU put out the following statement:
“The security service of Ukraine … has discontinued operation of a number of Internet sites that were used to perpetrate information campaigns of aggression on the part of the Russian Federation aimed at violent change or overthrow of the constitutional order and territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine.” 
As of this writing, the whereabouts of these two bloggers remain unknown.
And there are the suspicious deaths.
In March, the 45 year old journalist Oles Buzyna, who was thought to have “pro-Russian” views, had stepped down from his position as editor-in-chief with the Segodnya (“Today”) newspaper. In a blog entry, he explained that his decision was motivated by what he called “censorship” imposed from on high. According to the blog post, the editorial position of the paper had been reset so that the new Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk was effectively immune from criticism.
One month after leaving his position with the paper and posting that blog entry, Buzyna was gunned down by masked assailants in the courtyard of his building.
On this week’s Global Research News Hour, we examine the threats facing working journalists in today’s Ukraine with the assistance of a provocative and popular blogger named Anatoly Sharij.
Anatoly Sharij had been forced to flee the country in 2012 after facing trumped up charges. He had been granted refugee status in EU. While not exactly a “pro-Russian” journalist he has been very effective using videos to highlight the deceptions and lies appearing in the Ukrainian news media. As a result he has been receiving death threats. His website is sharij.net.
The transcript for this interview, conducted with the assistance of Winnipeg-based Konstantin Goulich, appears below.
The interview is followed by an excerpt of a speech given at last March’s US-Russia forum in Washington by American journalist Robert Parry. As a reporter in the 1980s he helped expose the Iran-Contra scandal for the Associated Press. He now works with the independent news site Consortium News. In this talk, Parry comments on the unprecedented ‘groupthink’ that seems to pervade the US media when it comes to the Ukraine conflict.
Interview with Anatoly Sharij
Anatoly Sharij is a prominent video-blogger, journalist and media expert from Ukraine presently exiled in EU. Anatoly is a prominent critic of the current state of journalism in Ukraine. He made a name for himself by exposing fakes and propaganda in Ukrainian and Russian media. Anatoly is extremely critical of the atmosphere of terror and intimidation the current Ukrainian government had created in Ukraine, both for the journalist community and for the population, with the recent string of murders and arrests. His work had caused some very public spats with government officials, and pro-regime media personalities.
Global Research: Hello, Anatoly Sharij. Welcome to the broadcast. I would like to ask you some questions. First of all, if you could explain. You are a journalist, and you’ve worked out of Ukraine. Could you tell us the circumstances by which you ended up leaving Ukraine?
Anatoly Sharij: Good afternoon Michael. Indeed I used to be a journalist in Ukraine. In 2011 I`ve had began to have problems with ministry of Internal Affairs. Why? For what reason? For the reason that I and my colleagues from Ukrainian TV channel 1+1 who are unfortunately no longer employed by it we were closing drug selling points, establishments legally selling synthetic drugs, after using which young people were jumping out of buildings. And we were closing the illegal casinos.
The problem was that just like those drug selling points were working under the protection of Department of Combating Illicit Drug Trafficking so were the casinos working under the protection of the structures within the Ministry of Internal Affairs. At first I was warned through then adviser of the Minister of Internal Affairs, he had warned me to hold my horses (to slow down ) a bit. Yet we had continued (our work), that’s when the problems had begun. At first there was a provocation at one of the fast food restaurants. A person who was later determined to be off staff employee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs had attacked my wife. I was forced to shoot him (with a trauma pistol – a self defence weapon).
Immediately after that (incident) I had called the police. Yet, I did not stop and had continued my work closing down the drug selling points and illegal casinos. After that my car was shot up. The car was shot at, and a half a year later I was accused of shooting at my own car. I was under two court indictments.
There was zero evidence (presented), but you don’t need evidence in Ukrainian courts. The judge had refused all attempts at mediation. That’s when, before my final hearing I had (escaped the country) to the West. Using some other person’s documents I crossed the border and ended up in European Union where I asked for refugee status. I had provided all the documents concerning my criminal cases, documents from all of my court hearings. And in 2012 I was granted a full refugee status.
GR: So Anatoly, you’re now based in Lithuania, and my understanding is that there have been efforts and pressure on the Lithuanian government to have you extradited back to Ukraine. Is that correct?
AS: No, that’s not the case. In 2013 I was arrested in Netherland by Interpol under request of Ukrainian authorities , then ruled by (former president) Yanukovich. Yet (authorities in) Netherlands after hearing the evidence against me, while I was under arrest, had determined them to have been falsified. In essence that was a second country in EU that had determined that case against me had been fabricated.
Nevertheless, in 2015 a series of articles against me was published, for which no one had asked for my comment. This was happening in Lithuania. The series of articles had appeared that had stated that I was a Putin’s propagandist, that I was pro-Russian. Which was completely false, and no one had bothered to ask me for a comment. Furthermore, I had contacted those Lithuanian journalists, who I refuse to call journalists they are pseudo-journalists. I’ve contacted them and had offered to provide my comments, but all of them had refused.
Shortly after, there was an unofficial request from Ukraine at the level of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, after which a statement from Lithuanian Deputy Interior Minister had appeared in the media ,where he had said that my (refugee) status will be reviewed (reconsidered), not because I had lied when I was applying for (refugee) status. No! It was because (according to him) the democracy had been established in Ukraine, and I was under no threat. Even though I’m still wanted under two criminal cases, and I receive direct physical threats on a regular basis from representatives of the Ukrainian government.
The last such threat came from the Advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs. In other words they are either trying to accuse me of terrorism or supporting terrorism, or funding terrorism.
GR: You say that what you’re being told is that Ukraine is a peaceful country, but we’re hearing about incarceration of journalists and even the killing of journalists. For example Ruslan Kotsaba was arrested February 7th and charged on March 31st with high treason. He was sentenced for up to 15 years. And his crime as I understand it was posting a video describing the conflict as Donbass fratricidal civil war and expressing opposition to a military conscription of Ukrainians. Then of course, there was a recent killing outside his home of 45 year old journalist Oleg Buzina. I’m wondering first of all if you see your case consistent with what is happening journalist to journalist across the board. And I’m also wondering when did you (first?) see that apparent suppression of free speech. Where did it have its origin?
AS: I will voice my own opinion. I remember how I’ve learned of Oleg Buzina’s murder. I was driving in my car. When I learned of his murder, it was such a shock for me that I’ve stopped my car on the side of the road, because I consider… I mean I had considered him to be my friend. I know that he had never crossed the line, what I mean is that he had always played by the rules.
The problem with what is happening right now. The problem of what is happening right now is that the state had stopped to play by the rules. A person should not be incarcerated under false allegations. If you don’t like what the person is saying, but he is not calling for division of the country, not calling for anything illegal. And Buzina never called for something like that.
I had never in my life said that I consider Ukraine not to be unitary (united). For example I consider Crimea to be part of Ukraine. This is my personal opinion, yet I receive without exaggeration up to a hundred threats a day. A hundred threats a day in social media. Threats of murder, threats of quartering, threats that they will find me abroad. The problem is that the West unfortunately had stopped noticing what happens in Ukraine.
I can understand that the West was demonstrating its friendship, provided friendly support, but no one should be covering up for the criminals. It’s unacceptable to turn a blind eye to the crimes. It’s unacceptable to not notice violations of human rights. When the Adviser to the Minister of Internal Affairs had started uttering threats at me, I had contacted Amnesty International, Human Right Watch and I had not received a reply from either organisation. Amnesty International had contacted me, they had promised me to call back, but they never did. I can see what is happening. Everyone is turning a blind eye.
When illegal procedure of removing my refugee status was started in Lithuania, which is unacceptable, it’s illegal to do so. When Deputy Interior Minister had made his statements to the press, which he had no legal right to do, since the refugee status of a person in a confidential information, he had violated the law, it’s a criminal offence. No one had noticed. And nobody is paying attention right now either. Oles Buzina got murdered, and I’ve read in western press that he was a pro-Russian journalist. As soon as they put a label on a person, it becomes OK to kill him. That is the main problem.
The west must open it’s eyes, to what is happening in Ukraine. Because what is happening is unacceptable, people are being jailed for 15 years for having an opinion. That is not normal.
GR: Anatoly, just a couple of notes on what you just mentioned. Maybe you can explain when did this intimidation, harassment, killing of journalists start. Did it start with you, does it go back to February of 2014, with removal of Yanukovich, but I also wanted to get a little bit more. Because I did see a report from BBC about journalist Oleg Buzina, and they did mention that there was a number of these suspicious killings.
There was a report, I can’t remember which agency it was at the moment, which had talked that Buzina had been killed one month after stepping down from his newspaper, because he had refused the media censorship that he said was being imposed on his newspaper from on high. So it seems like this is an individual who had refused to be, and this is just an interpretation, kind of a propaganda organ for the state and one month later he ends up dead.
I don’t know if you see that as a coincidence or if there is a direct connection with his stepping down, or his outspokenness, or idea that he is just independent minded person. Is this just an attempt, may be a very brutal fascistic attempt, to shut down free speech?
AS: I will answer the first part of your question first. Under the Yanukovich regime if you were a political journalist you were protected, absolutely protected. What I mean by that is that the pressure ( by the government) was applied only to the people ( journalists) who were going after specific personas (official). I was practising social journalism, and I was going after Ministry of Internal Affairs, I was going after specific generals. I was publishing fact based videos. I was publishing videos of soliciting murder that were recorded using hidden cameras. Those were very specific things (reports).
“The west must open it’s eyes, to what is happening in Ukraine. Because what is happening is unacceptable, people are being jailed for 15 years for having an opinion. That is not normal.”
Yet, I can’t remember people being thrown in jail on completely made up charges. Back then they could have passed it as a criminal case. For example if you did something (they didn’t like), then they might find you to be in possession of some drugs, something along those lines.
Right now I can see that people, without any after thought are saying that they will throw me into jail, because of things I say. And what do I talk about? What do I do? I expose fakes produced by Ukrainian media. I’m currently ranked first among Russian speaking video bloggers. I’ve managed to attain such popularity in a matter of a year. This is what gets them (Ukrainian Media?) embarrassed. They had made several attempts to get my Youtube channel closed. It was completely shut down three times, and I had to get it restored through my lawyers in the United States.
Then they started to threaten me with reprisals. As it was the case with threats I had received from members of Ukrainian parliament Bereza and Philatov, those are not the least important people in Ukrainian parliament. They, on their Facebook pages, in front of hundred of thousands of people had threatened me with murder. That is why the situation had deteriorated. I’m certain that what had happened was an evolution of pressure aimed at the journalists.
As for Oles Buzina. Indeed he was a chief editor of “Segodnya”( Today) newspaper. He had tried in that news paper under his editorial control to publish objective materials. In other words, today the objective journalism in Ukraine is almost completely banned. You must either stick to the party line.
Similar to what used to happen in USSR, there was an official line of Communist Party of the Soviet Union, if you were to step away from that line you might start to have problems, or your entire publication may start to have problems. For this reason the owner had attempted to frame his work, and Oles had left the newspaper. He was murdered soon after. And if you were to read the comments of the officials of the Ukrainian government in social media, you will see that they were saying that: “things are as they should be.”
Furthermore, the car used by the killers still had the licence plate attached, but they (Ukrainian authorities) have yet to find the killers. Why? Because, they do not want to find those killers. They use it as an example for everyone else of what would happen if someone were to cross that proverbial party line.
And right now and I’m ready to support my words, and I take full responsibility for my words they (government) have recreated 1937, (the time of great purges) perhaps even the worst version of it.
GR: Have you noticed those changes since the beginning of February 2014 when the new government came to power?
AS: These changes had started to occur during the Maidan revolution. During the revolution there were constant baseless insinuations, accusations, constant fakes, constant propaganda. And then when new government came into power the pressure (on the journalists) had steadily started to increase.
GR: Anatoly I’m curious to know about other players in this whole conflict. I mean there are state forces that are in league with the current government, but we have a lot of other figures influencing things. You’ve got organized crime, you’ve got the oligarchs, you’ve got the Western connections within Ukraine. You’ve got the Russians, probably having their own connections within Ukraine. I wondering who all is benefiting from this suppression of press and freedom of speech, of harassment and intimidation of journalists like yourself. Is it just state authorities or are their other figures that can be benefiting from and influencing the situation?
AS: In my opinion, and I’m certain of it, the people most interested are the central Ukrainian authorities (government). As you probably know, the power is only strong as long as everyone keeps their silence. And at the moment it’s beneficial to keep quiet. Even if you’re aware of some crime committed by, let’s say, those (territorial or national guard ) battalions in Donbass region, you’re much better off keeping it to yourself. Because, if you were to go public, not only would you get noticed by Ukrainian security services. Alternatively representatives of those battalions may show up and in worst case murder you.
Similar to what had happened few days ago when law enforcement officers were gunned down in the centre of Kiev. Three police officers were gunned down. And that is considering that I had published three reports in regards to those people who then went on to murder the officers. So while I was not keeping quiet, the others were.
What’s worse they were turning them into heroes! As it turns out it’s more beneficial to keep your silence even if it may lead to murder or may have some other colossal consequences. I’m sure that it benefits the Ukrainian authorities. However, I do not differentiate between Ukrainian government and oligarchs that are presently in power. The idea behind the revolution was to wrestle control of the state away from oligarchs. Yet instead we saw governor, well now ex-governor Kolomojski, owner of channel 1+1, in control of several of the regions, by the way the complaints launched by that tv station against my Youtube channel had caused it to be destroyed twice.
And of course all of the outlets, for journalist community are owned by the oligarchs. All of the TV channels are owned by the oligarchs. The Fifth Channel is owned by Poroshenko, STB belongs to Pinchuk. As it turns out all oligarchs own the TV channels. The only place lay person can find some truth is in the internet. Yet if he finds Sharij on the internet, that means that Sharij has to be silenced as well. That is my impression.
GR: Anatoly, I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about those journalists who are putting forward the information and commentaries that are supportive of the current governing authorities. Could you talk about individuals like Elena Vasileva, and the extent to which what they are being putting forward is being embraced not just by people within Ukraine, but by wider international press. How influential have these figures been?
AS: I’ll start from the end. The degree of the influence Vasilieva has become obvious to me when the information she had provided was used in UN Security Council. That is when I realised how serious things are. I’ve been fighting with that individual and with fakes that she was disseminating for half a year! I was exposing her fakes. I was showing that those were lies. She was burying football teams. She was saying complete gibberish. She was quoting UN figures that are nowhere to be found in UN reports. Yet, Ukrainian media were constantly rebroadcasting her fakery.!
So if there was a person to appear who would be saying complete nonsense, which can be easily fact-checked, as long as that nonsense is following in line with official position of the state, that nonsense would be broadcast by mainstream media. There were people like her before and after. Some people appear all the time that say things that I refute on my channel. However, Ukrainian channels do not want to publish corrections.
What’s worse, I can see that the situation is deteriorating. For example, Facebook status updates of some anonymous people began to appear on the front pages. The value of the information had vanished, it had disappeared. What we now see in front of us are no longer mass media nor journalists, but propagandists who re-broadcast any nonsense as long as it’s beneficial for the government. There is no more journalism in Ukraine.
GR: Anatoly, you say that journalism is dead, but what about other prominent bloggers or some of these collectives such as anti-maidan.com? Do you see those entities to be more reliable or beginning to approach actual journalism? Are these resources that people can rely on?
AS: They are a threat, but I don’t see them as an alternative. Unfortunately I do not see bloggers from anti-maidan as an alternative to journalism because we can see propaganda on one side, and on the other side we see the other propaganda. There are just as many fakes on the other side too, but if from one side we see supposedly pro-Ukrainian propaganda, which in reality is not pro-Ukrainian but pro-State propaganda, then from the other side we see very clear pro-Russian propaganda.
“What we now see in front of us are no longer mass media nor journalists, but propagandists who re-broadcast any nonsense as long as it’s beneficial for the government. There is no more journalism in Ukraine.”
I’m not a friend of propagandists. Yes, the anti-maidan community has respect for me for certain principles I have. Even though, and let me repeat myself, to me Ukraine is unitary and Crimea belongs to Ukraine. I cannot use their information as reliable as, let me repeat myself, it’s also propaganda.
GR: Anatoly what are your thoughts then about western journalists going in there? I mean Graham Phillips or George Eliason. People from the west going into Ukraine. Do you feel anymore respectful of those sorts of individuals. For that matter, are there any prominent journalists from outside going in Russian or Western that you feel are somewhat reliable in terms of what they put forward?
AS: About Graham, you see I respect Graham and when he was detained at the airport I was first to say that he was in trouble, it’s unfortunate that he had been detained. Thank god it didn’t happen right now, because I think that today they would not let him out alive.
Yet when a person starts to openly express his own opinion in his reports, and his own definitions of this or that power, whether or not I have favourable opinion of that power, I consider them to no longer be a pure journalist. For me there is pure journalism and non-pure journalism. That’s why I do not even call myself a journalist at the moment, because I often express my personal opinions on my blog.
Graham deserves respect along with his European colleagues, even if they have pro-Russian position. He deserves respect because he is often present at the scene, and he gives information directly from the scene. If you were to remove his personal opinions he provides exceptionally valuable information.
Similarly, there are Russian journalists who work there, who undoubtedly… their information undoubtedly when it ends up with their news channels, is transformed and is broadcast without doubt as propaganda, either in light or extreme form. However , the importance of that information to me is that it comes directly from the scene of the event. These people provide exclusive video footage, and Ukrainian TV channels steal that footage and present it as their own. And the reason for that is the absence of Ukrainian journalists in Donbass region on the separatist controlled territory.
GR: Anatoly I wanted to also ask about Western reporting on this. As I understand you have been approached by western journalists and they don’t seem to be broadcasting what you saying, at least that’s what I understand. What is at the heart of western journalists not being able to reliably relay that kind of information, because they don’t seem to be under the gun the same way journalists within Ukraine are. They don’t seem to be subjected to the same kind of death threats that you’ve been talking about directed against yourself. What is the motivation for those journalists to may be sit on those stories that should be reported?
AS: My attitude towards Western journalists that work in Donbass region is without doubt of complete respect, if they convey their information not through the prism of propaganda, but if they provide pure information. As for the Western mass media as a whole, first of all, I tend to separate mass media into ones from Old Europe, the US and Canada are a separate category, and ones from New Europe. For example, I had personal encounter with journalism from Baltic states. As far as I’m concerned, there is no journalism in Baltic States either. As they do not follow any journalistic standards, and often re-broadcast Ukrainian fakes. Western journalism has its own peculiarities.
For example, we hear a statement by President Poroshenko where he declares that a Russian armoured column was destroyed. Almost immediately, all Western radio stations, all Western TV channels carry this message. However, two days later when I publicly ask them the question where, at what coordinates was that column destroyed – I would send my own journalists that work for me to that spot – no one can give me an answer. Because, that column had never existed in first place! But Western journalist can’t imagine that a Head of State would openly lie on the air. Perhaps that is the problem.
I was asked to give an interview from Netherlands and I gave a very long interview, furthermore I personally had it translated and sent it to them for their convenience. The interview was about BUK (missile system suspected of shooting down MH17) and my impression of what had happened there. I’ve provided my vision of the events. The interview was never published, after that the journalist had stopped communicating with me. What I suspect is that there is some politics involved and the information that should not be discussed never makes it on the air.
Of course, there are no such threats (to Western journalists as opposed to Ukrainian ones). I had frequent discussions with (Western) journalists. It’s a completely different level of professionalism. If they are taking an interview with you, they will turn you inside out while they sit and simply nod their head. Yet, at the same time those are people who work for publications and those publications have owners, and the owners possibly have certain political motivations or interests in specific types of information never making it into print. That is the only way I see it.
GR: Anatoly do you see the situation in the next several months either for the worst or for the better?
AS: Undoubtedly, the situation will only deteriorate.
I can see this as a reverse evolution. I’m observing this pattern ever since the beginning of the Maidan Revolution. I can see how afraid my colleagues are. Many of them had contacted me, journalists that still work for TV channels. And they keep on telling me that they can’t release truthful information even if they want too.
We can take Channel 112 for example. As soon as they’ve attempted to publish information just a little bit outside of the bounds of official line, they’ve immediately received a warning. If they get another warning, the State regulator will immediately have their licence pulled. “INTER” TV channel, used to be different as well. They are under pressure too.
Newspaper “Vesti” had their offices burned and no one was found responsible! As for the newspapers that they distribute, some people in ski masks show up and steal those. It happens all the time! That’s why I do not see the situation improving. I’m certain the situation will continue to deteriorate as long as West is turning the blind eye.
West should not be blind to what is happening! These are not some form of childish horse play. Those are murders we dealing with now! People are really being thrown into jail. Ruslan Kotsaba is sitting in jail and for what? For nothing but his position, he had never called for anything illegal, he had simply voiced his position, and now he is being accused of high treason! This is a complete legal nihilism (disregard for law). Yet the only force that can exert some influence over Ukraine is the Western society, and no one else. No one else can influence the situation. That’s why I’m waiting for the West to take a notice of what is going on!
GR: Anatoly I also wanted to ask, you had mentioned earlier the pattern of intimidation and deaths that it recalls the 1937 period. I’m wondering if there is anything else that you are witnessing in this society today that recalls the events of 1937.
AS: No doubt. The situation is that even people that have an opposite position are afraid to speak out. Because of their own fear they attempt to hide in the crowd. When everyone in the crowd starts shouting “Glory to the nation!” or “Death to the enemies!” then you start to shout same thing as well, not because you agree, but because you’re afraid.
We have seen this in 1937. We remember what had happened in Nazi Germany, millions of people were persuading themselves, pushing their own fear into subconsciousness, that they like (approve) what was happening around them. They were sincerely happy with the executions, or that tens, or hundreds or thousands of dissidents were thrown into jail, like we see right now in Ukraine. They believed… they’ve projected an impression that they believed that someone was guilty of committing acts of terrorism.
Today in Ukraine as many as 20 to 30 terrorists are detained every day! I do not believe that those terrorist acts are real. I do not believe that accused were attempting to blow up a bridge or assault the members of the government, or make an attempt on the life of the president Poroshenko. All of the above are carbon copy of 1937.
“When everyone in the crowd starts shouting “Glory to the nation!” or “Death to the enemies!” then you start to shout same thing as well, not because you agree, but because you’re afraid.”
Plus, today in Ukraine it became very popular to be an anonymous informant. People write anonymous accusations, people are asked to write anonymous accusations. People accuse their neighbours. In Mariupol after it was occupied by Azov battalion, the security service had quite a harvest because neighbours were writing about their neighbours. If someone didn’t like someone they would just make an accusation that so and so had cooperated with separatist or shared separtatist ideas, obviously such practices are outside of law. Yet in Ukraine today it’s considered to be very honourable to be an anonymous accuser. To inform, that’s another clear analogy I see with 1937.
GR: Anatoly is there anything else that you’d like to add that our listeners really need to know about, that will help them understand the situation with journalism and suppression of freedom of speech and freedom of the press in Ukraine that we haven’t mentioned yet that you would like to share?
AS: I think I had said everything. As for the situation with human rights, well I can be an example. I have to change addresses every other day. I can’t use phones. I have to use special programs that change IP address to access the internet, and for what? I have never done anything illegal! If I did, believe me, Interpol would have been already looking for me, and I would have been extradited long time ago!
People are wanted for speaking the truth. People have to hide and be afraid for their life. Not because they suffer from paranoia, but because they see how their friends get murdered on the streets of so called European state. That’s why I believe that other examples are redundant. I can see on my own example how far freedom of speech had advanced in Ukraine.
GR: Anatoly one last question for you if you don’t mind. There was a website “Peacekeaper” I believe it was called, and it was endorsed by Gerashenko. And it was posting information about people who got murdered. And it was somehow used as a crowd sourcing tool, could you talk a little more about that?
AS: Website “Mirotvorec” (Peacekeeper) was set up a few months ago with the active participation of Advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs Gerashenko and with active participation, as far as I understand, of Ukrainian security services because all of their branches have their home pages hosted there as advertisements.
The personal information had started to appear on it soon after including phone numbers, home addresses, including names of children of people who someone thought were terrorists. They were accused of being terrorists. In fact, I had been contacted by people who had their information posted on the website and it turned out to be either people who practise sport shooting, who live in Russia and had never left Russian territory.
One person had contacted me from Siberia who had never left his village. He was also listed on the website as Russian terrorist. Then they’ve started to post information of people who’s opinions they didn’t like. Oles Buzina had his information listed there. They had listed his home address, which I believe had really helped his killers, and he was murdered the very next day. The former Member of Parliament from Regions Party had his information posted there and he was also murdered the next day.
After Buzina was murdered, my information was posted as well, but they didn’t know my address so they’ve listed me as homeless. So I’ve decided to strike back! I’ve decided to pay them with the same coin, so I’ve published in my video blog personal information of the creator of the website.
The very next day the pressure on me had increased. I was accused of financing terrorism, but I’ve continued to fight against that website. I’ve contacted human rights organizations. I’ve received no reply. However, I suppose someone in the West had noticed it, because Ukrainian Ombudsman had reacted and she released a statement saying that this is illegal and people behind the website should bear the responsibility. No one can be called a criminal without court’s decision. The principle of the presumption of innocence can not be suspended in one single country.
So the website has serious problems right now and those government officials involved are trying to distance themselves away from it. Yet some time ago it was actively promoted by main Ukrainian mass medias.
GR: Anatoly, there was information about this girl posted there. Can you tell us more about that?
AS: Yes, yes, I had noticed that girl too. They published her information, She was twelve years old and they called her an enabler and supporter of terrorists, and published her home address. The girl is twelve years old. I found her and I contacted her. The girl turned out to be a very sick girl, a physically sick child. So, they have started publishing the personal information of sick children.
GR: Thank you very much, I’m done now. “Spasibo!” Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts with us, and thank you for your patience through this entire process and we’re looking forward to getting this interview broadcast tomorrow, and it will be posted to our website shortly after that. So, thank you very much.
AS: Thank you very much! It would be a pleasure for me to give you any kind of commentaries you would like. And I hope that the West will finally start paying attention. Thank you very much.
End of interview.
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