Spinning in the Grave: Western Media Dig Dirt to Cover Kiev’s Atrocities
Finian Cunningham (SCF) : The Western media went into supercilious mode this week over evidence of atrocities and mass graves in eastern Ukraine committed by the Kiev regime.
Rather than dealing with disturbing facts that point to the Western-backed regime’s culpability in war crimes, Western media tried instead to divert the focus by claiming that «pro-Kremlin» Russian news outlets were guilty of crude propaganda.
The Telegraph headline ran: «Facts distorted as Moscow claims hundreds of bodies discovered in Ukrainian ‘mass graves’».
Notice the way that the headline uses quote marks for the words ‘mass graves’. That stylistic device is aimed at casting doubt on the fact of at least three mass graves having been actually found near the village of Nzynhnia Krynka, 35 kilometres northeast of Donetsk.
The Telegraph article carries the subheading: «Pro-Kremlin media misrepresent activist while Russian-backed rebels contradict the claim and say only nine bodies found».
More on the «misrepresented activist» in a moment. But with felicitous irony, the Telegraph article includes this editorial comment: «Tendentious and blatantly false reporting on both sides has become a trademark of the war in Ukraine».
Yes, there certainly has been «blatantly false reporting» in Ukraine – by Western mainstream news media, which have consistently failed to convey the extent of violence perpetrated by the Kiev regime against the Russian-speaking population in eastern Ukraine. More than 3,000 people – mainly civilians – have been killed over the past six months since Kiev forces launched an indiscriminate assault on the region. Up to one million have been turned into refugees. But the Western media have largely remained silent, while five Russian journalists have been killed by Kiev’s military brigades.
What the Telegraph slyly effects to do in the above comment is to make out that it is being a responsible, independent news service free of «tendentious and blatantly false reporting» – unlike the supposed «pro-Kremlin» Russian media.
Meanwhile, the American government-sponsored Radio Free Europe – a propaganda outlet associated with the CIA – went even further in trivialising the issue of war crimes by inferring that the discovery of mass graves was all a Russian fabrication.
It’s headline this week went: «Murders and Gang Rapes: Moscow Spins OSCE Probe Into Ukraine ‘Mass Graves’».
Note again the use of quote marks around the words ‘Mass Graves’ aimed at undermining veracity. Also the lurid words «Murders and Gang Rapes» in the headline give the oblique impression that Moscow is guilty of sensationalism and exaggerating crimes.
The RFE article goes on to say: «Russian state media are abuzz with accusations of murder and gang-rape levelled against government forces in eastern Ukraine by a purported Western monitor».
The lexicon «abuzz with accusations» is another rhetorical device for inferring that Moscow is concocting propaganda.
So let’s deal with the «misrepresented activist» whom these two Western media reports refer to and who is central to their claim that Russia is distorting the issue.
He is named as Einars Graudins, who is described as «a Latvian activist». Apparently, Graudins seems to have been working as an independent observer, who was accompanying members of the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
The OSCE has been charged with monitoring the current ceasefire in eastern Ukraine and investigating alleged violations. Just how Graudins ended up being in the company of the OSCE team is not known, and frankly irrelevant.
The relatively minor controversy arises because various Russian media outlets appear to have mistakenly accredited Graudins with official OSCE affiliation. Russian media appear also to have misquoted Graudins, referring to 400 unidentified bodies in Donetsk morgues, and making the assumption that these bodies were all exhumed from mass graves.
The Western media then leapt on these discrepancies with a vengeance to accuse Russia of spinning a false claim of mass graves and war crimes. But it turns out that it’s the Western media which is engaging in a squalid counter-spinning.
Radio Free Europe made sure to dig superficial dirt on the activist Graudins by labelling him as «pro-Russian and anti-American». The RFE article implies that he is «emotionally imbalanced» and an unreliable witness.
But what the Daily Telegraph and RFE are doing is distracting, unconscionably, from the much more important germane story of state-sponsored serious crime.
The facts are that three mass graves have been located near the village of Nzynhnia Krynka. Nine bodies have been recovered, showing signs of torture and execution. Local people and representatives of the Donetsk People’s Republic have verified that the victims are civilians from the locality. The local people claim that the killers were members of the Kiev regime’s military who were occupying the area for several months until recently, when the Minsk-brokered ceasefire was belatedly implemented.
The facts of the mass graves and nine human remains have been confirmed by the OSCE. On its website, dated September 24, the OSCE reports the findings of its Special Monitoring Mission (SMM), which we quote at length below verbatim:
«The ‘military police’ of ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ (‘DPR’) told the SMM that three unmarked graves allegedly containing multiple bodies had been found; two of them were located in a coal mine Komunar near the village Nyzhnia Krynka (35km north-east of Donetsk) and one inside the village. The SMM proceeded to the scene and saw in the coal mine two areas located fifty metres apart, each containing two human bodies. All four corpses were in the process of decomposition. The SMM also saw eight 9mm Makarov pistol cartridges approximately five meters away from the bodies. Near the road on the edge of the village, the SMM observed a pile of earth resembling a grave which had a stick with a plaque, written in Russian and containing the names (or in one case – initials) of five individuals. The plaque indicated that the individuals died on 27.08.2014. On top of the plaque there was another inscription saying: ‘Died for Putin’s lies’. Neither in the coal mine nor in the village did the SMM see any forensic experts. COMMENT: The SMM cannot provide a forensic assessment of the sites».
Admittedly, the OSCE report does not impute the crime to the Kiev military. It was a cursory report, and one awaits a follow-up.
But the fact of the matter is that the OSCE confirms the existence of mass graves and a mass killing. It also implies that the culprits were Kiev regime forces because of the burials dated as August 27, 2014. That corroborates what the local people are saying: that the area was under the occupation of Kiev military units at the time of the killings.
Yet, according to the Daily Telegraph, Radio Fee Europe and other Western news media, the central fact of an atrocity committed by Kiev forces is buried under scurrilous accusations that Moscow is somehow engaging in «spinning». It is not Russia that is spinning, it is Western media, who ironically presume to be bastions of free speech and independent thinking.
This week further evidence emerged to implicate the Kiev regime. According to testimony obtained from a former member of the Dneipr Battalion, named as Sergei Litvinov, the soldier says that he was personally involved in the killing of women and children. This battalion is accused of being involved in the atrocities around Nzyhnia Krynka – the location of the mass graves.
More damning is that Litvinov says he was paid by Olig Kolomoisky to carry out the killings. Kolomoisky is one of Ukraine’s richest oligarchs and was appointed by the Kiev regime as the governor of Dnepropetrovsk. As financier for the Dneipr Battalion, he has been a key figure in prosecuting Kiev’s so-called anti-terror operation against the breakaway pro-Russian People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Russia’s Investigative Committee says that it now has enough evidence from witnesses and forensics to charge Kolomoisky with crimes against humanity. The Committee has also filed formal charges of war crimes against Kiev’s defence minister Valeriy Heletey.
The issue of executions and mass graves is only one aspect among many gross violations committed by Kiev’s forces. This week saw another mass killing from shelling into civilian areas of Donetsk. At least 10 people were killed when a school was hit. Local people and self-defence militia blamed Kiev’s military forces for the attack. Considering that the city is under the control of the People’s Republic of Donetsk and its self-defence militia then in all probability the shell was fired by Kiev’s military, which has been besieging the city for several months.
The Kiev regime has routinely used unguided Grad rockets and air strikes against civilian centres in rebel-held areas. While the rebels may also have broken the September 5 ceasefire by attacking Kiev’s military, the latter has continually breached the truce by shelling residential districts. That, by the way, amounts to systematic war crimes committed by a regime that is wholly supported by Washington and Brussels.
However, a reader of the Daily Telegraph would never glean who was responsible for the latest shelling incident in Donetsk on Wednesday. The report reads: «Meanwhile, casualties continued to mount up on Wednesday, despite a ceasefire in the seven-month long conflict, signed on September 5. Nine civilians were killed after a mortar shell hit a bus stop in Donetsk. In a separate incident, a biology teacher, a parent and one rebel were reportedly killed when a shell smashed into a school in the city. Children in the region started school a month late on Wednesday because of the fighting».
In other words, the Telegraph report whitewashes the guilty party for that atrocity by omitting relevant claims against the Kiev regime. Radio Free Europe, by the way, didn’t seem to even bother filing any report on the latest shelling incident.
This is the complementary role played by Western media to the Kiev regime’s crimes. Counter-spin and whitewash by omission of any trace of those crimes committed by the Western-backed regime.
As the Daily Telegraph noted with supercilious preening: «Tendentious and blatantly false reporting on both sides has become a trademark of the war in Ukraine».
Make that «on one side» – the side sponsored by Western governments.
Finian Cunningham, Strategic Culture Foundation