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Who produces fake news? Russia, America, or both?

Comparing facts on the ground with the track record of the media in both countries, provides us an answer

Eric Zuesse

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(Washington’s Blog) – The biggest difference between American and Russian news-reporting has been a simple factual issue between the two sides, on what incident started the ‘New Cold War’ between the U.S. and Russia. (The original Cold War was between the U.S. and the Soviet Union and had an ideological, capitalist-versus-communist, alleged basis, but this one doesn’t — so, it’s not really a ‘New Cold War’; it is quite different, but it might be even more deadly.)

The U.S. and its allies say that what started it was in March 2014 when “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine” and “the invasion of Crimea” and Russia’s “conquest of land” by means of that “invasion,” sparked America’s sanctions against Russia and NATO’s military buildup along Russia’s borders; but Russia says that what started it was in February 2014 when Ukraine was victimized, as Russian Television reported it, on 13 March 2014, by:

an armed coup. The Maidan do not appoint these people; rather, it’s the US that does it. It’s enough to look at the newly appointed officials: Parubiy, Gvozd, Nalyvaichenko are all people who followed somebody else’s orders, the orders of the US, not even Europe. They are directly linked to the American intelligence.

In the American account, Ukrainian democracy started when the democratically elected President of Ukraine was overthrown in February 2014; in the Russian account, Ukrainian democracy ended when the democratically elected President of Ukraine was overthrown in February 2014, and only after (and in response to) that, did two regions (Crimea and Donbass, both of which had voted more than 75% for that man) break away from, and refuse to be governed by, the newly installed Ukrainian Government, which was now being imposed upon them.

For nearly three years now, there has been this ‘debate’; but, there has actually been no debate at all, because the media on the two sides, have different alleged ‘historical’ accounts of what the cause of the ‘New Cold War’ is. The people on the two sides disagree about history (was it a coup that had occurred in Ukraine in February 2014, or was it instead a revolution?), and not only about the news. Fake ‘news’ isn’t the only issue here; fake ‘history’ also is.

This is an exceedingly dangerous situation to exist between the two nuclear superpowers, because it goes deeper than mere semantics (‘coup’ or else ‘revolution’) to the real evidence, to reality. One side or the other is — or else both sides are — simply ignoring crucial evidence, in this case. This could produce nuclear Armageddon. There are two mutually contradictory accounts of the history, which have been continuing unchanged for nearly three years already, and the only way that the problem is being dealt with is by there continuing to be no public adjudication of the issue on the basis of the wealth of incontrovertible evidence that exists (including crucial leaked phone-conversations such as this and this) regarding this incredibly important matter.

Was the precipitating event Obama’s ‘coup’ in February 2014, or was it instead Putin’s ‘invasion’ in March 2014? Western media don’t, at all, use the term “coup” to refer to the overthrow of Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014, but Russian media do.

On Saturday, October 28th, the RT (Russian Television) website used the word “coup” to refer to the overthrow and replacement that occurred in February 2014 of Ukraine’s Government. In the U.S. and its allied countries, that replacement of the Ukrainian Government is instead called a “democratic revolution” or “2014 Ukrainian revolution” or “Uprising in Ukraine”, referring to it as a supposedly not-CIA-organized operation (though the Obama Administration had actually started planning it in 2011). The U.S.-backed article “Uprising in Ukraine” described this Governmental overthrow as follows (which provides a good summary of the official U.S.-and-allied ‘news’media’s account of what had happened):

Three acts unfolded on the Maidan. First came the citizen protests. Then, the brutal government crackdown. And finally, after the first guy was killed on Hrushevsky Street, what I call “the Maidan of dignity.” At that point, it had become obvious that the people would never accept Yanukovych again. It was the beginning of his end, and the start of this journey toward Russia that is still playing out.

Once, Ukraine looked at its leaders like Olympic Gods; they know what to do, and how to do it, and we’ll just follow them. But over these last three months, the people have seen that’s not true. Politicians are no better than the rest of us. People want to participate in politics now. They demand equality, the right to assembly, and a fair court system. And they see their leaders for what they are—really old. If you asked Yanukovych or some others about Facebook, they wouldn’t understand what it can do.

I understand that the moment I posted on Facebook, I was no longer acting as a journalist; I was an activist. As a journalist, one must remain independent. On the other hand, as a citizen, I had to act. It is difficult to do nothing as your future is being destroyed right before your eyes. As the crackdown began, I realized I could no longer stand by as an unbiased observer while the government was killing people. It has been a long time coming.

The press gained freedoms under Yanukovych. But it wasn’t until 2013 that a group of us left our jobs at companies owned by oligarchs or political partisans and began to create a truly independent media. In the first months of the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych we formed Stop Censorship! to protest persecution of the press.

Three years later, we founded the first Internet TV channel in the country that operates through donations from our viewers — Hromadske.tv, where I work now as editor in chief. The media showed everything that was happening—helping people to believe that if we all act together, we can accomplish great things.

But the Russian media are different. They are trying to create a parallel reality. They are under Putin’s control, and he is trying to convince Russians that evil has overtaken Kyiv. The Russian people don’t have access to a free Internet, like we do. …

Wikipedia says of that writer:

Using Facebook, Nayem was one of the first activists to urge Ukrainians to gather on Independence Square in Kiev to protest Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to “pause” preparations for signing an association agreement with the European Union.[9] His summons to rally on Facebook on November 21, 2013 were the start of the Euromaidan protests which led to the overthrow of the Yanukovych government.[10]

His main financial backer was actually an American “oligarch” or aristocrat, the lifelong hater of Russians, George Soros, whose Open Society Foundation and other rabidly anti-Russian ‘non-profits’ and ‘charities’, such as the International Renaissance Foundation, had pushed that writer forward to become ultimately a member of Ukraine’s post-coup parliament or “Rada.” But in that article by him, which was published at Soros’s Open Society Foundation site on 4 April 2014, he was identified at that time as: “Mustafa Nayem is a Ukrainian journalist and co-founder of the online channel Hromadske.TV.” In other words: Nayem was very successful as a Soros employee, not only before the “uprising” but after.

Where Nayem had used in his article the phrases “the brutal government crackdown” and “the Maidan of dignity,” I thought of the event that occurred on 25 January 2014, and that was captured so well in a video uploaded that day to the Web by Russian Television, “Ukrainian rioters brutally assaulting police”, in which the terrified police, who are being beaten and worse by America’s hired masked paramilitaries, try to ward off the clubs and brickbats by means of their shields. The assault’s PR agents labelled such realites as “the Maidan of dignity,” and Soros’s Nayem parroted the phrase, for whatever trusting fools (people who don’t ‘need’ evidence) might happen to be reading Soros’s site — which is just about everyone who reads there. Those PR agents had actually been inside the Vatican (institutionally hostile toward Russia); and, in fact, on that very day (January 25th), Vatican Radio had headlined “Ukraine movement a ‘Maidan of dignity’, says bishop”, and Orthodox Churches, including the Russian one, were infuriated. But, anyway: this was the reality behind “the Maidan of dignity.”

Here was a superb article by the tech journalist Carola Frediani on 28 February 2014, the last day of the coup, in which she had explained “How Ukraine’s EuroMaidan Revolution Played Out Online” (because calling it a “coup” that early was too shocking even for her; she apparently still trusted the Western ‘news’media), and reported:

Protestors began to mobilize on Nov. 21, 2013, after the Ukrainian government suspend preparations for the EU-Ukraine Association agreement. They gathered in Independence Square (Maidan) in Kiev and used the hashtags #euromaidan and #евромайдан on Twitter and Facebook. The Facebook posts of Hromadske TV journalist Mustafa Nayem, encouraging Ukranians to gather at Maidan, received more than 1,000 shares in a few hours. At the same time, a number of independent video streams were set up, on platforms like UStream, live broadcasting what was happening on the streets.

The demonstrations swelled on November 24 when ultimately 250,000 people took to Kiev’s streets, demanding reforms as well as Ukraine’s European integration. The first social media pages also started to gain traction: the Euromaidan Facebook page gained 70,000 followers in less than a week. As noted by two NYU researchers in the Washington Post, Facebook was being used much more actively than Twitter, acting as a news hub, as well as coordinating protests by noting the location of demonstrations, providing logistical and support information, distributing flyers for printing and dissemination, giving tips on how to behave and react to police, and uploading videos of police brutality.

A recent independent research study conducted by Kyrylo Galushko and Natalia Zorba from the National Pedagogical University ‘M.P. Drahomanov’ in Kiev confirmed the predominance of Facebook in organizing the protests. According to a poll of 50 Ukrainian social media experts and Internet opinion leaders, conducted between December 2013 and January 2014, Facebook played the largest role in mobilization. Twitter came in second place, followed by the Russian social networking site, Vkontakte, which is the second most popular social networking site in Europe. “Social networking services were the leading communication feature of protesters, instrument of mobilization for taking part in different actions and establishing other forms of social support,” explains Galushko. …

Even she didn’t recognize, at the time, that she was covering a coup. But, on 12 March 2014, was uploaded to the Web this stunningly brilliant 12-minute video showing that it was actually a coup and a very bloody one; and, then, six days later, that video was used as the opening 12 minutes of a 62-minute video which added yet more videos of what had been happening behind-the-scenes there. And, then, on 27 January 2015, a deeper layer of the behind-the-scenes operation was revealed, and I picked up on it and tied it in with the other extremely reliable evidence that was by now available on the Web about the overthrow, and all of it fit into the same picture: that of its having been a U.S. coup. On 8 February 2015, I posted “New Video Evidence of America’s Coup in Ukraine — and What It Means” and linked to this video which had been taken inside the Ukrainian Rada on 20 November 2013, immediately before the “Maidan ‘Revolution’,” in which video a Rada member, Oleg Tsarev, delivered an address to the other members, providing there a detailed description of what had been happening for months already, inside the U.S. Embassy, “tech camps” training far-right paramilitary Ukrainians how to use social media such as Facebook and Twitter in order to raise a mass of ‘democracy’ demonstrators, behind which those paramilitaries would then be able to take over the Ukrainian Government by their guns, and become the country’s new rulers. Tsarev said:

In my role as a representative of the Ukrainian people, activists from the Volya Public Organization turned to me, providing clear evidence that within our country, with support and direct participation of the US Embassy in Kiev, a “TechCamp” project is under way in which preparations are being made for a civil war in Ukraine. The “TechCamp” project prepares specialists for information warfare and for the discrediting of state institutions [the Government] using modern media — potential revolutionaries for organizing protests and the toppling of the Government. This project is overseen by and currently under the responsibility of the US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey R. Pyatt. After the conversation with the Volya Organization, I learned that they actually succeeded to access facilities in the “TechCamp” project [they had hacked into it] disguised as a team of IT specialists. To their surprise, were found briefings that were held on peculiarities of modern media. American instructors explained there how social networks and Internet technologies can be used for targeted manipulation of public opinion as well as to activate potential protest to provoke violent unrest on the territory of Ukraine — radicalization of the population, and triggering of infighting. American instructors show examples of successful use of social networks to organize protests in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. “Tech Camp” representatives currently hold conferences throughout Ukraine. A total of five events have been held so far. About 300 people have been trained as operatives, who are now active throughout Ukraine. The last conference took place on 14 and 14 November 2013, in the heart of Kiev, inside the US Embassy!

That article also described Tsarev’s background, and his past and subsequent enormous courage, risking his life and losing his fortune, to protect Ukraine’s democracy — and, then, failing that, to help Donbass to protect itself from the new Ukraine’s ethnic-cleansing operation. I furthermore noted there:

The U.S. Embassy in Kiev had even posted in Spring of 2013 an announcement of its “Tech Camps.” Here is an announcement from the Embassy in Ukraine, on 1 March 2013, titled, “U.S. Embassy Hosted TechCamp Kyiv 2.0 to Build Technological Capacity of Civil Society.” (That Ambassador is now our Ambassador to Russia.)

This new evidence from Tsarev, piled on top of all the other evidence that already proved the assertion by the founder of the “private CIA” firm Stratfor, that the overthrow of Yanukovych was “the most blatant coup in history,” simply cements the reality, that all of the sanctions against Russia, and all of the “me too” statements supporting Obama’s coup and ethnic cleansing in Ukraine, by David Cameron, Stephen Harper, and Obama’s other co-nazis, are abominations, which should be loudly condemned by all decent persons in all countries. The aggressor here is Obama, not Putin; and NATO must end, now: all decent nations should quit it ASAP. (War crimes trials against Obama and his agents should follow. After all: these people are bringing the world closer to a nuclear war than has been the case since 1962, and there is no decent reason for it.)

Subsequently, on 17 September 2016, I traced the origin of the February 2014 coup back farther, to a meeting that had occurred on 23 June 2011 between Wikileaks’ Julian Assange, Google’s Eric Schmidt, and the Hillary Clinton U.S. State Department’s Jared Cohen (now hired by Google), in which Schmidt and Cohen drilled Assange for tips on how to use social media to foment a revolution, and Assange didn’t figure out till later, that they were planning both the Arab Spring operations and the takeover of Ukraine. On 23 October 2014 Assange headlined “Google Is Not What It Seems”, and called Cohen “Google’s ‘director of regime change’.” Assange also explained his disillusionment: “I began [prior to meeting Schmidt] to think of Schmidt as a brilliant but politically hapless Californian tech billionaire who had been exploited by the very U.S. foreign-policy types he had collected to act as translators between himself and official Washington — a West Coast–East Coast illustration of the principal-agent dilemma. I was wrong.”

The great investigative historian Nafeez Ahmed took that insight even farther, in his stunning 22 January 2015 “How the CIA made Google”, which tells, in remarkable detail, the origin of the military-industrial complex’s takeover of the then-emerging digital economy — the internet, Google, the ‘news’media, and, more broadly, of Americans’ emerging fascism-accepting political attitudes and beliefs — the manipulation of the public mind (mass mind-control), starting with the mathematician William Perry’s service as U.S. Secretary of Defense under President Bill Clinton. Whereas the anodyne CIA-editedWikipedia article on Perry presents him by deceptive phrases such as “Perry did everything he could to improve relations with Moscow,” and ignores the deeper reality to the exact contrary (which followed through on President G.H.W. Bush’s lie issued on 24 February 1990), Ahmed recognizes this deeper reality (which I documented at the present link). Perry was doing everything he could — and not just in the former Yugoslavia — to expand America’s empire right up to Russia’s borders.

On 3 January 2015, I submitted to all U.S. newsmedia, for them to consider for possible publication, a news-report that opened:

Czech President Says ‘Only Poorly Informed People’ Don’t Know About Ukraine Coup

Eric Zuesse

The Czech Republic’s President Milos Zeman said, in an interview, in the January 3rd edition of Prague’s daily newspaper Pravo, that Czechs who think of the overthrow of Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych, on 22 February 2014, as having been like Czechoslovakia’s authentically democratic “Velvet Revolution” are seeing it in a profoundly false light, because, (as Russian Television translated his statement into English) “Maidan was not a democratic revolution.” He said that this is the reason why Ukraine now is in a condition of “civil war,” in which the residents of the Donbass region in Ukraine’s southeast have broken away from the Ukrainian Government.

He furthermore said that, “Judging by some of the statements of Prime Minister Yatsenyuk, I think that he is rather a prime minister of war because he does not want a peaceful solution, as recommended by the European Union (EU), but instead prefers to use force.”

He added, by way of contrast to Yatsenyuk, the possibility that Ukraine’s President, Petro Poroshenko “might be a man of peace.” So: though Zeman held out no such hope regarding Yatsenyuk (who was Obama’s choice to lead Ukraine), he did for Poroshenko (who wasn’t Obama’s choice, but who became Ukraine’s President despite Obama’s having wanted Yatsenyuk’s sponsor, the hyper-aggressive Yulia Tymoshenko, to win the May 25th Presidential election, which was held only in Ukraine’s pro-coup northwest, but claimed to possess authority over the entire country). …

That news-report was published at no mainstrean news-site and was rejected by almost all alternative-news sites, but was published at the following six: RINF, washingtonsblog, thepeoplesvoice, countercurrents, blacklistednews, and pontiactribune.

If such news-reports were published in U.S. newsmedia, especially in mainstream ones, then one could reasonably trust U.S. newsmedia, but such news-reports are not published in the U.S. (nor in its allied countries)

Here is terrific journalism (click onto that link) from “The Saker” documenting both with video from Hromadske TV, and with links to that TV operation’s annual financial reports, that the three top funders of Hromadske TV — Nayem’s springboard into Ukraine’s Rada —  were, in order: the Dutch Embassy, the American Embassy, and the International Renaissance Foundation (mis-identified there as the “International Renaissance Fund” — this is one of Soros’s ‘non-profits’, not one of his hedge funds). That report by The Saker was dated 3 August 2014, and afterward the linked-to “Hromadske TV Annual Financial Report, 2013” was taken down, but here it had been web-archived, so that you can see and authenticate it for yourself, showing on its second-to-last page, exactly what the screen-shot by The Saker showed. Interestingly, the “International Renaissance Fund” error was in the original financial report itself. The error wasn’t by The Saker.

That article by The Saker included the 31 July 2014 video of a Ukrainian ‘journalist’ being interviewed on George Soros’s and Mustafa Nayem’s and the U.S. Government’s and the Dutch Government’s Ukrainian TV station, explaining why “You need to kill 1.5 million people in Donbass” — arguing for ethnic cleansing there, of the genocidal type. The U.S.-imposed Ukrainian regime did attempt that, and such ethnic-cleansing started being Ukrainian Government policy as soon as the new Government was installed. On 19 November 2014, I headlined “Meet Ukraine’s Master Mass-Murderer: Dmitriy Yarosh”and noted that Yarosh had been the person who not only was very active in the ethnic-cleansing program, but he had trained the paramilitaries who had executed the overthrow, and I linked to a video of Yarosh being interviewed as a hero on the new regime’s television. I also wrote:

As Yarosh said this past March in an interview with Newsweek, he has “been training paramilitary troops for almost 25 years,” and his “divisions are constantly growing all over Ukraine, but over 10,000 people for sure.” More recently, in October, a pro-Government Ukrainian site interviewed Yarosh and he mentioned specifically a “DUC,” or Volunteer Ukrainian Corps of fighters. He was then asked “How many soldiers in DUC?” and he answered, “About seven thousand men.” These would be his real military force, by far the biggest private army in Ukraine. So, in his private files are everyone’s individual background and skill-level as a “paramilitary,” or far-right mercenary, and they all respect and obey him as the top man. He is the indispensable person in this new Ukraine. Yarosh’s teams carry out the most violent operations for the CIA in Ukraine (including the coup).

Already by the time of 9 December 2014, Russian Television headlined “’They’ll try to shut you down’: Meeting Assange & the non-stop ‘War on RT’”, and RT’s chief Margarita Simonyan covered 5 specific ways in which Assange was predicting that the U.S. would try to shut down RT in America:

1. Pressuring of our employees.

2. Hordes of Western media outlets attempting to discredit our work.

3. Flogging the ‘cash cow’

4. Explicit threats to revoke our broadcasting license.

5. Pressuring independent experts who appear on RT.

Assange there scored a 100% accuracy-of-prediction; and, so, on 1 October 2017, RT headlined “‘If RT leaves the US, American media might stop broadcasting in Russia’ – RT editor-in-chief”.

On 28 October 2017, RT bannered “Budapest vetoes Ukraine-NATO summit, says Kiev’s new law a ‘stab in the back’”, and reported that some of the formerly Russia-allied European nations were turning away from the U.S. (NATO & EU) alliance. The core of that news-report was the statement from Hungary’s Foreign Minister saying “Hungary cannot support Ukraine’s integration aspirations, so it vetoed the NATO-Ukraine summit in December.” RT’s article linked to the Hungarian Government video of that person saying this. However, my Web-search of that statement “Hungary cannot support Ukraine’s integration aspirations, so it vetoed the NATO-Ukraine summit in December” brings up only the RT news-report, none other. A Web-search for that Minister’s name, Peter Szijjarto, also fails to bring it up. Perhaps his statement isn’t suitable for inclusion in “All the News That’s Fit to Print”. Apparently, it just doesn’t fit; so, it won’t be printed. Like none of this has been published in America.

On 22 August 2014, Steven Starr, who is one of the world’s leading experts on what would be the results of a nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia, headlined “’The Russian Aggression Prevention Act’ (RAPA): A Direct Path to Nuclear War with Russia”, and he opened:

The “Russian Aggression Prevention Act”, introduced to Congress by U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), will set the US on a path towards direct military conflict with Russia in Ukraine.

Any US-Russian war is likely to quickly escalate into a nuclear war, since neither the US nor Russia would be willing to admit defeat, both have many thousands of nuclear weapons ready for instant use, and both rely upon Counterforce military doctrine that tasks their military, in the event of war, to preemptively destroy the nuclear forces of the enemy.

RAPA provides de facto NATO membership for Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova via RAPA

The Russian Aggression Prevention Act, or RAPA, “Provides major non-NATO ally status for Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova for purposes of the transfer or possible transfer of defense articles or defense services.” Major non-NATO ally status would for practical purposes give NATO membership to these nations, as it would allow the US to move large amounts of military equipment and forces to them without the need for approval of other NATO member states. Thus RAPA would effectively bypass long-standing German opposition to the US request to make Ukraine and Georgia part of NATO.

Fortunately, Corker’s bill turned out to have ended on 1 May 2014 when it was sent to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and failed to be voted on even there. Corker is that extreme a neoconservative. No one in the U.S. Government can be more fascist than that. He was even more of a fascist than U.S. President Barack Obama was.

On 28 October 2017, the AP bannered “Corker: Possible 2020 run against Trump not ruled out” and reported that Senator Corker, who had earlier announced that he won’t be running for another term in the Senate, is now leaving open the possibility of a primary campaign to block Donald Trump from again receiving his Party’s nomination. The article said: “And any impeachment of Trump isn’t realistic today and is not going to happen, Corked added.” So: maybe the reason why he wanted not to be a Senator after 2018, is that he had decided he wants to be free during 2019 and 2020 to campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination for himself. The AP noted that, “Early this month, Corker charged that Trump had turned the White House into an ‘adult day care center’ and was setting the U.S. ‘on the path to World War III’.” But, of course, Corker was actually describing himself there (regardless of whether he was also describing the current President), and no one in the U.S. ‘news’media was pointing out this important fact about him. Corker was already running for the White House. He seemed already to be aiming to be the Republican version of Hillary Clinton who would win what she had failed to win: the White House.

This article, like every article that I do, is being sent free-of-charge for publication, to all U.S. newsmedia that cover international issues; but, all of the major newsmedia, and almost all of the “alternative news” sites, have refused to publish any among the many hundreds like this that I have submitted to them in the past. Perhaps the reason for this is the same reason why the U.S. ‘news’media never admitted that they had entirely uncritically reported to the American people, in stenographic fashion, really as propaganda instead of as a democratic newsmedia, the lies that George W. Bush and his Administration asserted in 2002 and 2003 regarding ‘Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction’ etc., as if it those lies weren’t clear, even at that time the lies were made. How does a ‘news’media which has a record of deceiving its public into invasions, ever admit that this is what they long have been doing, and continue even now to do? Any of them that would publish the present article would be making a fundamental change-of-course, to becoming finally part of the press in a democracy, no longer part of the propaganda-operation in a dictatorship. Can a leopard change its spots? We’ll see, by web-searching the title here, “Does Russia Produce ‘Fake News’? Or Does America? Or Both?” and seeing where this article has been published — and where it hasn’t.

Perhaps the people who run America’s ‘news’ media don’t care whether they are participants in bringing about nuclear Armageddon. We’ll soon see.

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Must we pay attention to every piece of Russian propaganda? “…Ukrainian democracy started when the democratically elected President of Ukraine was overthrown in February 2014…” And what happened with the “democratically elected” President of Ukraine? Why is he wanted on charges of corruption, murder, and treason in Ukraine and is still hiding in Russia? “…two regions (Crimea and Donbass, both of which had voted more than 75% for that man)…” So why didn’t Yanukovych go to Crimea or Donbass? Could it be because he didn’t have the support of the people in those two regions, even the ones that have… Read more »

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The Ukrainian President Signs a Pact With Constantinople – Against the Ukrainian Church

There is still a chance to prevent the schism from occurring.

Dmitry Babich

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Authored by Dmitry Babich via Strategic Culture:


Increasingly tragic and violent events are taking their toll on the plight of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Ukraine . After several fights over control of the church’s property, prohibitions and blacklists are starting to spread, affecting respected church figures coming from Russia to Ukraine. The latest news is that the head of the Moscow Theological Academy, Archbishop Amvrosyi Yermakov, was deported from Ukraine back to Russia. Amvrosyi’s name popped up on the black list of Russian citizens who are not deemed “eligible to visit” Ukraine. Obviously, this happened right before his plane landed in Zhulyany, Kiev’s international airport. After a brief arrest, Amvrosyi was put on a plane and sent back to Moscow. This is not the first such humiliation of the Orthodox Church and its priests that has taken place since the new pro-Western regime came to power in Kiev in 2014. Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church has been declared persona non grata throughout Ukraine since 2014. That decision was made by humiliatingly low-level officials. A department within the Ukrainian ministry of culture published a ruling stating that Kirill’s visit to Ukraine’s capital of Kiev “would not be desirable.”

Since the ancestors of modern Russians, Belarusians, and Ukrainians were first baptized in 988 in Kiev, the Patriarchs of the Russian Church have never had problems visiting Kiev, the birthplace of their church. Not even under the Bolsheviks did such prohibitions exist. So, for Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church to be denied permission to visit Kiev can only be compared to a possible prohibition against the pope visiting Rome. Since 2014, there have also been several criminal cases filed against the priests of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC MP) because they have called the hostilities in eastern Ukraine a “civil war” and have discouraged the faithful from supporting that war. This has been interpreted by the Ukrainian state authorities as a call for soldiers to desert the army.

Why Poroshenko’s meeting with Bartholomew is ominous

Despite the fact that the UOC MP has become used to all sorts of trouble since 2014, things have been looking even worse for the canonical church lately, as 2018 draws to a close. In early November 2018, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko broke the wall of separation between church and state in the most overt manner possible — he signed “an agreement on cooperation and joint action” between Ukraine and the so called Constantinople Patriarchate, the oldest institution of Orthodox Christianity, which is now based in Turkish Istanbul.

Rostislav Pavlenko, an aide to Poroshenko, wrote on his Facebook page that the agreement (not yet published) is premised on the creation of a new “autocephalous” Orthodox Church of Ukraine — a development that the official, existing Orthodox Churches in Russia and Ukraine view with foreboding as a “schism” that they have done all they can to prevent. Why? Because Poroshenko’s regime, which came to power via a violent coup in Kiev in 2014 on a wave of public anti-Russian sentiment, may try to force the canonical Orthodox Church of Ukraine to merge with other, non-canonical institutions and to surrender to them church buildings, including the famous monasteries in Kiev and Pochai, as well as other property.

President Poroshenko was visibly happy to sign the document — the contents of which have not yet been made public — on cooperation between the Ukrainian state and the Constantinople Patriarchate, in the office of Bartholomew, the head of the Constantinople Patriarchate. Poroshenko smiled and laughed, obviously rejoicing over the fact that the Constantinople Patriarchate is already embroiled in a scandalous rift with the Russian Orthodox Church and its Ukrainian sister church over several of Bartholomew’s recent moves. Bartholomew’s decision to “lift” the excommunication from two of Ukraine’s most prominent schismatic “priests,” in addition to Bartholomew’s declaration that the new church of Ukraine will be under Constantinople’s direct command — these moves were just not acceptable for the canonical Orthodox believers in Russia and Ukraine. Kirill, the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), as well as Onufriy, the Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine, are protesting loudly, viewing this situation as a breach of two basic principles. First of all, the Ukrainian state has interfered in the church’s affairs, asking Constantinople to give the Ukrainian church “autocephaly,” which that church never requested. Second, Constantinople itself has interfered in the affairs of two autonomous national churches, the Russian and the Ukrainian. In the eyes of Ukrainian and Russian clergy, Bartholomew is behaving like the Roman pope and not as a true Orthodox leader who respects the autonomy and self-rule of the separate, national Orthodox Churches.

The Russian President sympathizes with the believers’ pain

Two days before Poroshenko made his trip to Istanbul, Russian president Vladimir Putin broke with his usual reserve when commenting on faith issues to bitterly complain about the pain which believers in Russia and Ukraine have experienced from the recent divisions within the triangle of Orthodoxy’s three historic capitals — Constantinople, Kiev, and Moscow.

“Politicking in such a sensitive area as religion has always had grave consequences, first and foremost for the people who engaged in this politicking,” Putin said, addressing the World Congress of Russian Compatriots, an international organization that unites millions of ethnic and cultural Russians from various countries, including Ukraine. Himself a practicing Orthodox believer, Putin lauded Islam and Judaism, while at the same time complaining about the plight of Orthodox believers in Ukraine, where people of Orthodox heritage make up more than 80% of the population and where the church has traditionally acted as a powerful “spiritual link” with Russia.

Despite his complaints about “politicking,” Putin was careful not to go into the details of why exactly the state of affairs in Ukraine is so painful for Orthodox believers. That situation was explained by Patriarch Kirill. After many months of tense silence and an unsuccessful visit to Barthlomew’s office in Istanbul on August 31, Kirill has been literally crying for help in the last few weeks, saying he was “ready to go anywhere and talk to anyone” in order to prevent the destruction of the canonical Orthodox Church in Ukraine.

Politics with a “mystical dimension”

Kirill said the attack against the Orthodox Church in Ukraine “had not only a political, but also a mystical dimension.” Speaking in more earthly terms, there is a danger that the 1,000-year-old historical Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) — which now owns 11,392 church buildings, 12,328 parishes, and two world-famous monasteries in Ukraine — will be dissolved. The roots of the UOC MP go back to the pre-Soviet Russian Empire and even further back to the era of Kievan Rus, the proto-state of the Eastern Slavs in the tenth-twelfth centuries AD, when the people who would later become Russians, Ukrainians, and Byelorussians were adopting Orthodox Christianity from the Byzantine Empire. It is by far the biggest church in Ukraine, as Mikhail Denisenko’s non-canonical “alternative” church has only 3,700 parishes that include church buildings (fewer than a third of what is owned by the UOC-MP, despite the fact that Denisenko enjoys official support from the Ukrainian state).

What many Russian and Ukrainian believers fear is that the Istanbul-based Patriarch Bartholomew will eventually grant Kiev what is being called autocephaly. In that event, the UOC-MP may be forced to merge with two other, non-canonical churches in Ukraine that have no apostolic liaison. The apostolic succession of the UOC-MP consists in the historical fact that its first bishops were ordained by medieval bishops from Constantinople, who had in turn been ordained by Christ’s disciples from ancient Israel. Apostolic succession is crucial for the Orthodox Church, where only bishops can ordain new priests and where the church’s connection to the first Christians is reflected in many ways, including in the clergy’s attire.

Metropolitan Hilarion (his secular name is Grigory Alfeyev), the Russian church’s chief spokesman on questions of schism and unity, accused the patriarch of contributing to the schism by officially “lifting” the excommunication from Ukraine’s most prominent schismatic church leader — the defrocked former bishop Mikhail Denisenko. That clergyman stands to gain most from the “autocephaly” promised to Poroshenko by Patriarch Bartholomew. A hierarchical Orthodox Church is considered to have autocephalous status, as its highest bishop does not report to any higher-ranking bishop. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has stated that for Ukraine to be granted autocephaly from Istanbul, this would mean a complete “reformatting” of the country’s religious status quo and the severing of all links to Orthodox Russia and its “demons.”. Most likely, the new “united” church won’t be headed by the UOC MP’s Metropolitan, but by Mikhail Denisenko, who was excommunicated by both the UOC MP and the Russian church back in 1997 and with whom real Orthodox priests can only serve against their will and against the church’s internal rules.

Constantinople’s first dangerous moves

On October 11, 2018, the Constantinople Patriarchate made its first step towards granting autocephaly by repealing its own decision of 1686 that gave the Moscow Patriarch primacy over the Kiev-based Metropolitan. This 17th-century decision reflected the political reality of the merger between the states of Russia and Ukraine and established some order in the matters of church administration. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Moscow gave the Ukrainian church complete independence in financial and administrative matters, but the two churches retained their cherished “spiritual unity.” “Constantinople’s decision is aimed at destroying that unity,” the ROC’s Patriarch Kirill explained. “We can’t accept it. That is why our Holy Synod made the decision to end eucharistic communication with the Constantinople Patriarchate.”

How Moscow “excommunicated” Bartholomew

The end of eucharistic communication means that the priests of the two patriarchates (based in Moscow and Istanbul) won’t be able to hold church services together. It will be maintained as long as the threat of autocephaly continues. The Western mainstream media, however, interpreted this decision by the Russian church as a unilateral aggressive act. The NYT and the British tabloid press wrote that it simply reveals Putin’s “desperation” at not being able to keep Ukraine’s religious life under control.

However, Patriarch Bartholomew seems undeterred by the protests from the Russian faithful and the majority of Ukraine’s believers. Bartholomew said in a recent statement that Russia should just follow the example of Constantinople, which once granted autocephaly to the churches of the Balkan nations. Bartholomew’s ambassadors in Kiev do not shy away from communicating with the self-declared “Patriarch” Filaret (Mikhail Denisenko’s adopted religious name from back when he was the UOC MP’s Metropolitan prior to his excommunication in 1997). For true Orthodox believers, any communication with Denisenko has been forbidden since 1992, the year when he founded his own so-called Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate (UOC-KP). Unfortunately, Denisenko enjoys the full support of Ukrainian President Poroshenko, and recently the US State Department began encouraging Denisenko, by giving its full support to Ukraine’s autocephaly.

The lifting of Denisenko’s excommunication by Patriarch Bartholomew in Istanbul both upset and embittered the Orthodox believers in both Ukraine and Moscow, since Denisenko was excommunicated by a joint decision of the Russian church and the UOC MP in 1997, after a five-year wait for his return to the fold of the mother church. So, by undoing that decision, Constantinople has interfered in the canonical territory of both the Ukrainian and the Russian churches.

The UOC-MP protested, accusing not only Patriarch Bartholomew, but also the Ukrainian state of interfering in the church’s affairs. “We are being forced to get involved in politics. The politicians do not want Christ to run our church; they want to do it themselves,” said Metropolitan Onufriy (Onuphrius), the head of the UOC-MP, in an interview with PravMir, an Orthodox website. “Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate has been independent. Our church did not ask for autocephaly, because we already have independence. We have our own Synod (church council) and our own church court. Decisions are made by a congress of bishops and priests from all over Ukraine. We have financial and administrative independence, so autocephaly for us will be a limitation, not an expansion of our rights.”

Poroshenko’s premature jubilation

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Poroshenko did not conceal his jubilation about Constantinople’s moves. “This is a victory of good over evil, light over darkness,” Poroshenko said when the news about the lifting of Denisenko’s excomnmunication came from Istanbul in early October.

Poroshenko said he wanted a “united Orthodox Church” for his country, and he openly pressured Patriarch Bartholomew to provide autocephaly to Kiev during his visits to Istanbul in the spring of 2018 and in November of the same year. Meanwhile, Denisenko said that the provision of autocephaly would mean the immediate dispossession of the UOC MP. “This Russian church (UOC MP) will have to cede control of its church buildings and famous monasteries to the new Ukrainian church, which will be ours,” Denisenko was quoted by Ukrainian media as saying. “These monasteries have been owned by the state since Soviet times, and the state gave them to the Russian church for temporary use. Now the state will appoint our communities of believers as the new guardians of this heritage.” Denisenko also made a visit to the US, where he met Undersecretary of State Wess Mitchell, obtaining from him America’s active support for the creation of a “unified” Ukrainian church.

There is still a chance to prevent the schism from occurring. Poroshenko’s presidential aide, Rostislav Pavlenko, made it clear on Tuesday that the actual “tomos” (a letter from the Constantinople Patriarchate allowing the creation of an autocephalous church) will be delivered only IN RESPONSE to a request from a “unifying convention” that represents all of Ukraine’s Orthodox believers in at least some sort of formal manner. This new convention will have to declare the creation of a new church and elect this church’s official head. Only then will Constantinople be able to give that person the cherished “tomos.”

Since the UOC-MP has made it very clear that it won’t participate in any such convention, the chances of the smooth transition and easy victory over the “Muscovite believers” that Poroshenko wants so badly are quite slim. There are big scandals, big fights, and big disappointments ahead.

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Russia’s Next Weapon: A Church

The Russian military plans to build a military church to bolster the spiritual values of its armed forces.

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Authored by Michael Peck via The National Interest:


Meet Vladimir Putin’s newest weapon: a church.

The Russian military plans to build a military church to bolster the spiritual values of its armed forces. Construction will soon begin of the Main Church of the Armed Forces, to be erected in Patriot Park outside Moscow, according to Colonel General Andrei Kartapolov, deputy defense minister and chief of the armed forces’ Main Military-Political Directorate, a new organization responsible for political education of the troops.

The “new church will be one more example of the people’s unity around the idea of patriotism, love, and devotion to our Motherland,” Kartapolov told Russian journalists.

To say the church, dubbed by some as the “Khaki Temple,” will have a martial air would be an understatement.

“The walls of the military church are really made in the color of the standard Russian missile system and armored vehicle,” according to the Russian newspaper The Independent [Google English translation here ] “…From the inside, the walls are decorated with paintings with battle scenes from military history and texts from the Holy Scriptures. The projected height is 95 meters [104 feet] and is designed for 6,000 people.”

“Kartapolov is convinced that the modern Russian serviceman cannot be shaped without shaping lofty spirituality in him,” Russian media said. “Speaking about ideology, the deputy head of the military department pointed out that this will be based on knowledge of the history of our Motherland and people and on historical and cultural traditions.”

“Even though the Russian constitution states that ‘no ideology may be established as state or obligatory,’ the Kremlin continues to search for a unifying set of beliefs,” notes the U.S. Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office.

Religion has long played a role in Russian military life, first through the Russian Orthodox Church in Tsarist times, and then—in a secular way—through Communism in Soviet times. “In late imperial Russia, when they began to build garrisons, every regiment sought to build a regimental church, but not a synagogue or mosque,” Roger Reese, an historian at Texas A&M University who has written books on the Tsarist and Soviet armed forces, told the National Interest. “In Putin’s Russia, the Orthodox Church seeks every opportunity to represent itself as the national religion and tie itself to the state as it had under the tsars, so this act represents continuity broken temporarily by the Soviet years. Of course the Soviet regime did not build churches for the army, but it did build the ‘House of the Red Army,’ shaped like a star, in Moscow dedicated to the use of the Red Army and its soldiers.

In some respects it was analogous to a USO [United Service Organization that supports American soldiers] building. So Putin’s dedicating one particular building to the use of the Russian Army soldiers for purposes of morale—and morals—is in line with that.”

While the thought of a military church will be distasteful to some, Russia is hardly unique in linking the military and religion.

Many armies, the United States and Israel included, maintain chaplains who wear uniform and hold military rank. Chapels are common on military bases, and soldiers are given time for – and sometimes pressured to – attend religious services. While a Russian military church is likely to favor a specific denomination – Russian Orthodoxy – even that isn’t unique: non-Christian members of the U.S. military have complained of religious discrimination , especially by Christian fundamentalists.

What’s interesting is how little things change. Be it the Tsar’s conscripts, or the Red Army’s draftees or the volunteers who comprise much of modern Russia’s military, some spiritual reinforcement is deemed necessary to get soldiers to fight.

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World War I Homage – A Triumph of Lies and Platitudes

The unilateral, lawless imperialism that engendered World War I and 20 years later World War II is still alive and dangerously vigorous.

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Authored by Finian Cunningham via Strategic Culture:


World leaders gathered in Paris on Sunday under the Arc de Triomphe to mark the centennial anniversary ending World War I. In an absurd way, the Napoleon-era arc was a fitting venue – because the ceremony and the rhetoric from President Emmanuel Macron was a “triumph” of lies and platitudes.

Among the estimated 70 international leaders were US President Trump and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, each sitting on either side of Macron and his wife. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was also given pride of place beside the French president.

Macron’s address to the dignitaries was supposed to be a call for international multilateralism. He urged a “brotherhood” for the cause of world peace. He also made a pointed rebuke of “nationalism” as posing a danger to peace – a remark which seemed aimed at Donald Trump who recently boasted of his politics with that very word.

But, ironically, everything about the ceremony and Macron’s speech resonated with jingoistic French nationalism, not his avowed multinationalism. As the politicians sat under the Arc de Triomphe, Macron walked around its circular esplanade in a salute to assembled French military forces bearing assault rifles and bayonets. The French anthem – The Marseillaise – was played twice, once by an army brass band, the second time sung by an army choir. There was also a military plane flyover displaying the blue, red and white tricolor of the French national flag.

In his speech, Macron talked about soldiers coming from all over the world to “die for France” during the 1914-18 Great War. He even said at one point that the war was fought for “the vision of France” and its “universal values”.

This was fluent drivel, French-style. No wonder Russia’s Putin momentarily gave a look of boredom as Macron waxed lyrical.

The speechifying and commemoration was completely detached from current realities of conflict and international tensions.

Among the “brotherhood” whom Macron was appealing to were Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu whose military forces continue to bomb and slaughter Palestinian civilians in illegally occupied territory. Also present was Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko whose armed militias continue to terrorize the people of eastern Ukraine with the blatant objective of instigating a war between the US-led NATO alliance and Russia.

Listening to Macron one would think that World War I erupted mysteriously from no specific cause and that an estimated 10 million soldiers were all killed in heroic battles for noble principles.

There was, of course, no mention by Macron of imperialist warmongering and the barbaric sacrifice of humans as slaves in the service of national capitalist power interests.

Grotesquely, as the world leaders donned solemn faces and mouthed pious platitudes for peace, the whole occasion was a triumph in burying reality and the ongoing causes of wars, as well as whitewashing the very culprits responsible for wars. Among the war criminals wearing a mournful black suit was former French President Nicolas Sarkozy who launched the NATO blitzkrieg on Libya in 2011.

While the empty, self-indulgent rhetoric was ringing out, one couldn’t help but recall some of the most glaring contemporary contradictions that were blocked out with awesome Orwellian efficiency.

Just this week, reports emerged of the horrific civilian death toll from the American air force bombing the Syrian city of Raqqa. The city was razed to the ground by US air strikes last year – supposedly to defeat the ISIS terror group. Some 8,000 bodies of civilians, mainly women and children, have now been recovered by Syrian government forces. And that’s only from clearing away a tiny area of rubble for the whole city.

What the Americans did in Raqqa was a monumental war crime, all the more criminal because US forces, along with their NATO partners Britain and France, are illegally present in and assaulting sovereign Syrian territory.

As Macron was telling world leaders about “the vision of France”, hundreds were being killed in Yemen in a battle to strangle the entire population by taking the port city of Hodeida. The genocidal war on that country – which is putting up to 16 million people at risk from starvation – has been fully backed by France, the US and Britain, from their supply of warplanes and bombs to the Saudi and Emirati aggressive forces.

We could mention other specific conflicts where the culprits are clearly identified. For example, the multi-million-dollar support from Washington for the Azov Battalion and other Neo-Nazi militias in Ukraine, which openly emulate the genocidal conduct of Hitler’s Third Reich to exterminate ethnic Russians.

We could mention how US-led NATO forces continue to expand towards Russian territory with outrageous provocation. The mounting earlier this month of the biggest-ever NATO war drills since the Cold War in the Arctic region adjacent to Russia’s northern border was a brazen threat of rehearsing invasion. The announced tearing up of yet another nuclear arms control treaty unilaterally by Washington is a reckless undermining of global security.

Washington threatens China with naval forces marauding near Beijing’s maritime territory in the South China Sea. Washington blockades Iran with illegal economic warfare and openly agitates for regime change. Washington declares Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba a “troika of tyranny” and reserves the right to threaten each of these countries with military invasion at any time.

Meanwhile, this weekend, Russia hosted peace talks in Moscow between the warring parties of Afghanistan. It was seen as a major breakthrough in trying to bring peace to the Central Asia country which has been wracked by 17 years of violence since US forces began their ongoing military occupation – allegedly to defeat terrorism.

Elsewhere, Russia has engaged with Turkey, Germany and France to convene a summit for peaceful reconstruction of Syria. The latest summit held in Ankara at the end of last month follows several other such meetings in Astana and Sochi, largely at the behest of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, to find a political settlement to the nearly eight-year war in Syria – a war that was fomented covertly by Washington and its allies for regime change.

France’s Macron talks about “multilateralism” for world peace, yet the two countries which have arguably supported and implemented multilateralism in practice are Russia and China in their calls and policies for global partnership and economic development.

And yet it is Russia and China that are being harassed with American and European sanctions, and US military provocations.

The unilateral, lawless imperialism that engendered World War I and 20 years later World War II is still alive and dangerously vigorous. We only have to look around the present world to realize that. But when the culprits indulge in a triumph of bullshit then we also know that the world is once again in very grave danger.

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