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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Ukraine Liveblog Day 122: Reports of Heavy Combat Near Krasny Liman

Publication: Ukraine Liveblogs
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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Russian Defense Ministry TV Journalists Apologize For Lying About White Phosphorus

Below is an excerpt from our Russia liveblog. Read the rest here:


Radio Svoboda and UNIAN reported today that Russian journalists from the Russian Defense Ministry television channel Zvezda sent a letter of apology to Ukraine’s Channel 5, saying they had lied on Russian TV when they claimed in a 12 June program that the Ukrainian army had bombed the village of Semyonovka near Slavyansk with “white phosphorus” bombs. Their program first led to all of Russia state media making the claim that the same type of bomb used by the US in Iraq was used, and angry demands by the Russian Foreign Ministry for an investigation.

The false report was promoted by Kremlin propaganda arm RT.com
then all the predictable pro-Kremlin echo chambers and discussed avidly on forums.

But ultimately, after discussion on forums, the propaganda gambit led to exposure and ridicule because it was determined that Russian state TV had used footage from the Iraq war in 2004, claiming it was in Slavyansk.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
How Were Two Russian Journalists Killed On June 16th

On Monday we carried the tragic news of the two Russian journalists who were killed while covering events near Lugansk. Today, however, there are questions about why those journalists were so close to the front lines -- and whether they should have been in Ukraine at all.

On our Russia liveblog, we have posted translations of a story that originally was published in Radio Svoboda, the Russian-language service of the US-funded Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe. The story suggests that Rossiya 24 may have sent journalists who actually worked on children's programming into a war zone without the proper training, or even or even made flak jackets mandatory when embedded with separatists. The journalists at one point are seen at a checkpoint, even hiding under armored vehicles which would have been a legitimate military target for Ukraine's forces. Furthermore, they were killed by shelling, so there is no indication that the Ukrainian military could see them in order to identify them as members of the press.

Below is an excerpt from our Russia liveblog. The entire entry can be read here:

Rykovtseva asks whether Kornelyuk was given training on how to conduct himself in a war zone and notes: “On that tragic day, the Rossiya camera crew went out to this dangerous area under shelling without bullet-proof vests and without helmets.”

Oleg Shishkin, special correspondent for Channel One, describes it as follows: ‘Usually he would go out to a shoot in a bullet-proof vest and helmet, but this time, the journalists decided to leave them in the hotel. They said that there was just a little work, and they would quickly return.”

Rykovtseva discounts the idea — now being flogged heavily by RT.com and other channels – that even had he been wearing the helmet with the “TV” on it that it would have been visible; it wasn’t on a jacket (many reporters in Ukraine have been wearing large, loose yellow or other bright-colored vests with PRESS stamped on them). Rossiya 24 has broadcast that the Ukrainian National Guard took deliberate aim at them, but Rykovtseva found that even Kornelyuk’s own colleagues who sympathize with the separatists think this is nonsense. The video taken by his own cameraman from the scene shows that a mortar that had landed unexploded suddenly began smoking and went off — and that — not reporters without helemts or flak jackets or visible markings — seemed to have attracted additional fire.

The Russian media appears to be asking the same questions. Also on our Russia liveblog, we carry a report that the Union of Journalists of Russia, a Russian-wide civic organization devoted to promoting journalists’ rights, issued a statement 18 June after the killing of Rossiya 24 journalist Igor Kornelyuk and his sound engineer Anton Voloshin.

The Interpreter has translated an excerpt, which can be read here.


The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Ukraine Is Far More Unified Than One Might Expect Given The Media Coverage

Emmet Tuohy is a research fellow at the International Centre for Defence Studies in Tallinn, Estonia, writes that despite the violence in the east and the narrative that bitter partisanship, or even ethnic tension, is growing in Ukraine, if one dives into the facts in the streets and the polls taken recently one would find that the country is not really divided at all:

Driven by the bread-and-butter issues of economic development and corruption, the broad-based Euromaidan movement — which was initiated by a journalist of Afghan background, and which drew upon the support of Ukrainians of all religious and ethnic backgrounds — has brought into being a new civic Ukrainian identity.  To the surprise of many longtime Ukraine observers, overwhelmingly Russian-speaking Dnipropetrovsk has become a bastion of patriotic sentiment, its Lenin Square renamed after the “Heroes of the Maidan”;  while Odessa, the “non-Ukrainian” city whose very place in the country’s history and culture was until recently “very much in question,”  saw its brief outbreak of civil unrest brought under control by a “fierce, grassroots” pro-Ukrainian movement — one that just happens to operate in the Russian language.

Differences among Ukrainian regions with regard to language use and geopolitical orientation preference remain, but they have never been remotely clear-cut. There have always been those who speak Ukrainian at home and yet push for closer ties with the Russian Federation, just as there have been those who speak only Russian at home but support an independent or European future for their country.  And now, after the recent presidential election that expressed a broad national consensus for the pragmatic pro-European policies of Petro Poroshenko, the salience of these regional differences is diminishing.

Tuohy goes on to argue that a few key facts have been widely ignored by the media which has given too much credence to Russia's claims that significant divisions exist between the east and the west.

The article is filled with interesting and overlooked facts, and can be read in full here.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Rebels Still Holding As Many As 200 Hostages In Donetsk

The head of the Donetsk Regional Administration, Serhiy Taruta, said earlier this month that as many as 200 citizens are still being held hostage by separatists in Donetsk. Eight OSCE monitors, part of an internationally brokered deal which included Russia, remain in captivity despite calls for their release. The peace deal that seems to be falling through as we speak was in part supposed to resolve this problem.

Now, Ollie Carroll reports that it is getting harder and harder for the hostages to get free, and the price tag for that freedom keeps going up. It seems that the 'Donetsk Peoples' Republic' would like to finance a large part of their efforts through hostage taking:

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
NATO Sees Russian Troop Buildup - And The Kremlin Won't Comment

While the Kremlin has not responded to the new claims, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is now saying what The Interpreter has been saying for days -- Russian troop convoys are headed back toward the Ukrainian border:

"I can confirm that we now see a new Russian military buildup — at least a few thousand more Russian troops deployed to the Ukrainian border — and we see troop maneuvers in the neighborhood of Ukraine," Rasmussen said in London.

"If they're deployed to seal the border and stop the flow of weapons and fighters that would be a positive step. But that's not what we're seeing..."

"I consider this a very regrettable step backwards and it seems that Russia keeps the option to intervene further," Rasmussen said. "So the international community would have to respond firmly if Russia were to intervene further. That would imply deeper sanctions which would have a negative impact on Russia."

Russia has expressed concerns that Ukraine is increasing its own troop presence near the border as part of the intensifying anti-terrorism operation. Russia, however, fails to note the Ukrainian military planes that have been shot down, the separatist gunmen who have attacked Donetsk, the Russian-backed gunmen who are conducting mortar attacks against Lugansk airport, or the border bases which have been attacked -- and sometimes overrun -- by separatists. These are the reasons that Ukraine has had to intensify their efforts to reestablish control over the border areas.

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