The crisis in Ukraine has brought journalistic standards in the West to a new an all time low.
On April 17th, U.S.A today put out an article entitled “Leaflet tells Jews to register in East Ukraine” which reported on flyers that had been passed out in the city of Donetsk demanding that Jewish residents register with the separatists forces, and pay a special tax (U.S.A. Today took the story from a report originally posted by the Israeli news outlet Ynet). The New York Times and several other outlets followed suit with versions of their own.
That same day Stephen M. Greenberg of the NCSJ (a Jewish advocacy group with direct contacts in the region) issued a statement saying that the flyers were fake. They had contacted the Donetsk Jewish community leaders, who called the flyers a provocation. They said that all authorities have denied any connection to the flyers, and that Pushilin has denied authorship. A week has gone by already and neither the U.S.A. Today nor the New York Times have updated their article to reflect this fact.
The leaflets contained the following text:
“Dear citizens of Jewish nationality! Due to the fact that leaders of the Jewish Community of Ukraine support the Bandera junta in Kiev and are hostile to the Orthodox Donetsk Republic and its citizens, the main headquarters of the Donetsk Republic declares the following:
Every citizen of Jewish nationality older than 16 years, residing in the territory of a sovereign Donetsk Republic has to go to Donetsk Regional Administrator to see the Nationalities Commissioner, Office 514, for registration. The registration fee is $50.
Persons should have with them with cash in the amount of $50 for registration, a passport to mark their religion, and documents of family members, as well as ownership documents for their properties and vehicles.
In case of failure to register, the perpetrators will lose their citizenship and will be deported outside the republic, with their property confiscated.”
The U.S.A Today article mentioned in passing that Denis Pushilin, the man who’s signature was supposedly on the flyers, had denied any involvement, but they placed that denial in the context of a statement by U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt that the flyers were indeed genuine.
U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt called the leaflets “the real deal.” But the man whose name appears on the leaflets, Denis Pushilin, identified as chairman of “Donetsk’s temporary government,” said he was not responsible.
This was the same Geoffrey Pyatt who was caught in the leaked phone call with Victoria Nuland discussing which puppet they were going to install in Kiev after Yanukovich fled.
The flyers and sensational reporting that followed were a coordinated public relations stunt designed to demonize the separatists in the East while at the same time countering the stigma that the coalition government in Kiev has garnered due to the presence of known Neo-Nazis in their ranks (Svoboda and Right Sektor). The U.S.A. Today and The New York Times weren’t duped. They are letting this story sit and collect views intentionally. That’s not just bad journalism, that’s war time propaganda.
It’s also worth noting that this disinformation campaign was accompanied by the firebombing of a Synagogue. This once again illustrates the willingness of the U.S. government and its cronies to use real violence when attempting to discredit an opponents.