Russian Separatists Trick Journalists And Mothers Into The Line Of Fire
By Paul Gregory (Hoover Institution and University of Houston)
News services throughout the world carried dramatic video of a mortally wounded Channel One Russian journalist lying on the floor of a minibus as those around him sought in vain to save his life. Among the bus’s occupants were women, said to be mothers of the Ukrainian soldiers in the garrison outside of Donetsk, who had opened fire on the minibus (here's the video).
Thanks to the eyewitness account of a Forbes.ru journalist, we learn that the Russian separatists deliberately sent reporters and mothers of soldiers into the line of fire, hoping to gain a propaganda coup from their deaths or injuries. They succeeded. We remember the shocking first impression, not the latter fact that the tragedy was orchestrated for propaganda gain. That Putin and his agents in east Ukraine are prepared to sacrifice their own reporters and women brings home what Ukraine is up against. Putin will fight to the end before he lets Ukraine go.
Moscow angrily condemned the attack on its journalist. (For a summary of Russian complaints, see RT report in English). According to Russia’s Foreign Ministry, the death of the Channel One camera man shows that Ukrainian law enforcement agencies are blocking the truce and are continuing the brutal persecution of Russian journalists in Ukraine. Russia’s Channel One vented that “Ukrainian power continues killing journalists in the southeast – it [Kiev] is not satisfied that it is impossible to hide the actions against its own people. There [in Kiev] they prefer to deal with the rebels without witnesses.”
An eyewitness account of the fatal incident by Forbes.ru reporter, Orkhan Jemal, shows that the self-proclaimed Peoples Republic of Donetsk deliberately set up reporters and soldiers’ mothers to be shot at to achieve a propaganda victory. Jemal’s account has been summarized in English by Halya Coynash, a Ukrainian civil rights activist and commentator.
Here is the Forbes.ru account of the events of the night of June 30:
The press service of the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk summoned journalists to assemble at the regional administration building in the evening. They were met by a press representative, who introduced himself as “Gyurza.” He explained that they were to go, together with the soldiers’ mothers, to the Ukrainian military unit in the town of Spartak outside of Donetsk. Gyurza claimed that he had reached an agreement with the Ukrainian commander that the fifty-odd soldiers there would surrender without a fight. He would carry out the negotiations himself. The mothers of soldiers serving there would come out with placards urging their sons to surrender, and the reporters would get “sensational material.”
In other words, everything has been arranged. There is no danger. We have done this dozens of times and know what we are doing.
Instead of riding on the minibus arranged for journalists and the mothers, Jemal opted to travel by taxi, together with colleagues from LifeNews – the Russian news service implicated in fabrications of Ukrainian news stories and possible weapons smuggling. They arrived first, got out of the car, turned off the lights, and waited for the minibus. The nervous troops inside opened fire on their car as Jemal and the LifeNews reporters crawled to safety in the pitch dark. They then watched as the minibus with journalists and mothers arrived. The driver thrust a white scarf out the window as he drove towards the military unit, which opened fire. The Russian Channel One reporter and the driver were wounded as they sped away from the scene. The reporters inside the fleeing minibus recorded the shooting and the Russian reporter’s final minutes in dramatic footage.
Jemal concludes his account: “There will probably be a whole lot of statements about the inhuman Kiev fascists who shoot journalists. Although all who were there, without exception, understand that we were deliberately placed under fire. It’s not for nothing that they call this a war of information: a busload of journalists shot at is also a propaganda achievement, no less than a [Ukrainian] military unit that’s surrendered.”
The outraged Russian news media appealed to international organization to demand an end to the persecution of journalists in Ukraine. One such international organization, Reporters Without Borders, responded by asking why the separatists sent out a bus with journalists and soldiers’ mothers late at night, whose white flag could not be seen in the dark by a military unit that had every reason to suspect an imminent attack.
Jemal’s account does not indicate where “negotiator” Gyurza was during the gunfire. His claim that everything had already been arranged holds no water. The Ukrainian troops would scarcely have opened fire on a minibus that carried their mothers.
Former Putin economics advisor, Andrei Illarionov, warned in March that Vladimir Putin would not hesitate to kill innocent civilians for propaganda gain in his war against Ukraine. His minions appear to have done so in this case. Russian analyst, Yuliya Latynina, also foretold Putin’s New Kind of War that designates women and children as “an important military force.” As Putin himself suggested in his March 4 press conference, “Let them [the Ukrainian forces] try to shoot at their own children.” In an earlier blog post, I presented evidence that the Easter Sunday massacre of unarmed civilians manning a road block was the work of Russian special forces. This piece was attacked furiously by Putin’s trolls, which shows it hit a very sore spot.
Putin’s propagandists must still be celebrating the Channel One reporter’s death. Their only regret is that one of the mothers was not the victim.
Reposted from Paul Gregory’s blog.