A week ago I was traveling with KLM returning from Ukraine to Canada. During my trip I visited my home region of Odesa and delivered help collected in Canada for orphaned children evacuated from war-torn Donbas. I also visited my friends in the Netherlands and could hear from them how the horrific MH 17 tragedy touched every town in their country.
On my final leg of travel I wanted to listen to some music and while scrolling down the music list was shocked to see Valentina Lisitsa was featured:
I took a screenshot and upon arrival sent to KLM the following Facebook message on August 24, 2014:
KLM responded immediately:
“Dear Inna, thank for bringing this to our attention. We will investigate this further internally and take appropriate measures.”
More people wrote to KLM sharing their concerns about Lisitsa featured by KLM.
On August 26, 2015 KLM replied:
“Dear Inna en Dmitry. First of all, please accept our apologies for the delay in the reply. We do appreciate passengers who reach out to us and point out something as sensitive and fragile as this matter. Our organization still mourns for the loss of the countless innocent lives lost on the MH17 flight. We regret that we were not able to catch this before, but have taken immediate action. The artist will be removed from the playlist in our Inflight Entertainment as soon as possible. Thank you once again for being observant and notifying us about this immediately.”
I am grateful that the Dutch company KLM took my inquiry and the letters from other people seriously and conducted their investigation. Currently Lisitsa and Kremlin-propaganda sources are doing a character assassination, a common technique used in propaganda, by putting me under risk of further attacks from paid Putin trolls army and volunteer supporters. I have already received death threats from Lisitsa supporters via the Twitter group I lead and am very concerned that this smear campaign is aimed to threaten and silence me, a devoted volunteer who is trying to help people of Ukraine affected by Russia-instigated war.
Calling Ukrainians fascists and Nazi is a Kremlin-propaganda construct being spread also by Lisitsa. My grandparents fought against Nazi Germany in WWII. Given how public I have been in promoting diversity and inclusion, I find it outrageous that someone would call me a fascist given my strong views against this type of ideology.
Here is another example of threats coming from Putin supporters, this time in Canada.
One of the key Kremlin-run propaganda channels RT, which is banned in Ukraine for spreading war propaganda, falsely reports about my inquiry: “She alleged that Lisitsa … had praised the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine in July 2014.”
My message to KLM publicly available for everyone to see clearly states that Lisitsa “celebrates terrorists responsible for taking down #MH17 and killing close to 300 people on board including nearly 200 Dutch citizens.” That is, she celebrates the terrorists who shot down MH17. The message does not refer to Lisitsa “celebrating” the downing itself. It also had a link to the tweets that support such a statement.
Lisitsa’s Twitter reveals her glorification of people like Igor Girkin (Strelkov), a Russian citizen with a background in the Russian military, who was among the first initiators of terrorist attacks in East Ukraine and who announced with cheer that they shot down a Ukrainian plane on 17 July 2014, which turned out to be MH17. This was then followed by denials, lies and cover ups from the Kremlin-run media about the attack. Now Girkin is formally charged for a total of $900 million by the families of the passengers on board of MH17 for his Kremlin-backed forces firing at the Boeing 777 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
Following a private meeting and closed door performance at the Russian Embassy in Ottawa after concert cancellations by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra earlier this year, Ms. Lisitsa announced a concert in the occupied Donetsk. It is unlikely for a musician to be able to travel to Donetsk by simply having an agent book a venue. In June 2015, she traveled to parts of East Ukraine held by the Russia-backed armed groups classified by Ukraine as terrorists. She crossed the border illegally from Russia. During her visit, she was photographed with and took flowers from the terrorist leader Aleksander Zakharchenko, the person in command of those who shot down MH17 last year. Zakharchenko himself (as well as the groups he leads) is subject to Canada, US, and EU sanctions imposed following their vicious and deadly attacks on civilians in the region. Lisitsa’s affection and support of those who bring death and destruction in East Ukraine and who are responsible for shooting down MH17 is obvious and is not a result of my imagination but of Lisitsa’s actions and tweets, for which she does not seem to want to take any responsibility.
Ms. Lisitsa further tries to spin yet another smear campaign and discredit her opponents by attacking them personally. She also claims that her tweets have been intended as satire. There is a war going on! She tweets: “Russia sent 1,000 men into Ukraine?.. why not send 100 times more and finish it in 3 days?” Is this considered satire?! As the death toll in Russia’s instigated war in Ukraine approaches 7000 people, Lisitsa finds it an appropriate subject to joke about. It makes me nauseated to read those tweets and think about their implications.
As an unpaid volunteer, I focus my efforts to help the people of Donbas including hundreds of evacuated orphaned children. I asked Ms. Lisitsa to join these efforts, but she never responded. However, she did find the time to produce thousands of outrageous tweets aimed to incite hatred between people, and to smile on camera with armed terrorists and Kremlin propagandists.
Lisitsa should apologize; instead she is using the situation to advance her popularity as she did in Canada and place blame on others. She continues to bring more Kremlin-crafted propaganda into the mainstream media in the West.
Perhaps instead of spreading hatred and filth in social media and threats of litigation, could Lisitsa actually start helping the people of Donbas that are affected by this war? Oh wait, it probably won’t generate much publicity on Kremlin-run channels as standing next to a terrorist leader would.
Inna Platonova is the Founder & Coordinator of Russian Speaking Canada for Peace group, which brings together people of Ukrainian, Russian, Belarusian, and other origins in Canada and overseas who advocate for peace, condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and support the principles of sovereignty, tolerance and democracy. Inna holds a PhD from the University of Calgary and is involved in research and consulting in the area of international development. She has taken the pseudonym of Thorn on facebook after the start of Russian aggression in Ukraine after receiving threats by Putin trolls and sympathizers in social media.
For more information about Lisitsa scandal, please visit https://valentinalisitsainfo.wordpress.com and the fb page No To Lisitsa’s Hate. Join us at Russian Speaking Canada for Peace and follow the group on twitter at @RusCanadaPeace.