Staunton, June 15 – Today, Dmitry Bukovsky of Kyiv’s Delovaya Stolitsa provides a particularly rich harvest of the Kremlin’s “top propaganda myths, fakes and stupidities” of the last week, a collection that simultaneously shows how duplicitous and foolish Moscow commentaries are and how skeptical everyone should be about them.
1. Not a Medal but a Medallion and Not an Award but a Souvenir. Immediately after Vladimir Putin met Pope Francis at the Vatican, Russian media put out and some Western media followed reports that the Holy Father had supposed awarded Putin with a gold medal showing a peacemaking angel. But it quickly turned out, as Bukovsky points out, that “what Putin received was not a medal but a medallion and this was not an award but part of an exchange of souvenirs” at the meeting.
2. Ukrainians Magically ‘Transformed’ into Gastarbeiters in Their Own Country. Moscow’s NTV reported that Ukrainians can no longer afford to go to Crimea on vacation, but they are going to the peninsula to find work as labor migrants in the service sector supporting other visitors to the occupied Ukrainian region. Russian media have often been less than careful in their use of the terms migrant, IDP, and gastarbeiter [guest workers], but this particular use is especially egregious because it suggests that Ukrainians can become labor migrants on the territory of their own country.
3. Americans Accused of Drugging Maidan Demonstrators to Oppose Yanukovich. Italy’s Il Giornale reported, and Russian media quickly picked up that Ukrainians who took part in the Maidan did so only because they had been drugged with a powerful amphetamine that American special forces earlier had used to promote the Arab spring “from Tunisia to Egypt and from Libya to Syria.”
4. Mobile Telephone Operators Said Stealing from Customers to Support Ukrainian Military. Counting on the ignorance of their audience, LNR and then the Moscow media said that mobile telephone operators were stealing from their customers and sending the money to the Ukrainian military. In fact, what was happening was the entirely normal practice in which those who wanted to make a contribution to Ukraine’s defense could do so by SMS.
5. DNR and LNR Can’t Get the Story Straight – Without Moscow’s Help. Again last week, the leaders of the two self-proclaimed “peoples republics” couldn’t get their messages straight, forcing Moscow to intervene. After the two sent proposed changes for the Ukrainian constitution to Kyiv, they had to withdraw them because they had accidently “recognized in them Crimea as Sevastopol as Ukrainian.” Apparently, Bukovsky says, “someone from Moscow called and cursed them out.” Then the two could not get straight whether they agreed to be part of Ukraine or not, with the DNR officials intriguingly adding that from now on “pensions in the territories under [Russian] control will be paid in American dollars. That may be their dream, but it is very far from reality.