KLM cancels Lisitsa: my story of fighting hate and war promotion  

klm

 

2015/08/30 • Op-ed

Article by: Inna Platonova

On August 26, the Dutch airline company KLM removed music by Valentina Lisitsa from their on-flight playlists following an inquiry by activist Inna Thorn. Lisitsa, whose concerts at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra were cancelled over vitriolic and racist tweets, is known for supporting the self-proclaimed Russian-backed “republics” in Donbas. On 24 June 2015, she gave a concert in occupied Donetsk where she was pictured in the company of alleged war criminal Aleksandr Zakharchenko, the Russian-hybrid forces of whom are proven to be responsible for the downing of MH17, as international investigations have reported. Since then, Ms. Thorn has been the victim of a smear campaign. We bring you her unabridged story.

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:

20150823_022739

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.

The tweet (translated from Russian) from “Elena” based in St. Petersburg, Russia, but pretending to be from Donbas, East Ukraine: “Wish you and your children to live through that we go through in Donbas thanks to Ukro-bastards! die, stupid fascist!!!”

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.

About the cancellation of Lisitsa’s concert in Toronto: Valentina Lisitsa concerts cancelled for racism and hate-speech

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
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.

Tags: , ,

  • Dirk Smith

    Sweet justice.

  • BCHistorian

    I’m told that she is performing again in Toronto sometime in the next few months. I have not verified this, but according to a friend who “likes her music”, he has tickets to the event.

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      Hmmmm……. time for another boycott and demonstration, perhaps?

      • BCHistorian

        Dagwood, I did a quick Google search, and could find nothing about upcoming concerts in Toronto. All I see is a concert upcoming on 29 October in Norrkoping (Norway, I suspect). Nothing new posted on her FB page since July 28th.

        • Dagwood Bumstead

          Norrköping is in Sweden, so perhaps time for the Ukraine’s Swedish friends to organise a demonstration and boycott.

  • Dagwood Bumstead

    Well done, KLM!

  • Brent

    Inna, thank you for bringing this to the attention of KLM, and also in being brave to share this story with the rest of us. I had thought Lisitsa would have learned when her Toronto concert was cancelled in the spring, but clearly she still supports Russia’s terrorism against Ukraine.

    Hopefully with people like yourself speaking out and helping Ukraine and its people, it will become the better place we all want to see it become.

  • Lesya Ukrainka

    Putin’s lapdog Lisitsa has willingly and enthusiastically became one of the best Kremlin propaganda tools. She uses her fame, influence and popularity to promote war, aggression and violence. Kudos to KLM!!! This should be the stand of anyone who holds normal social values and abhors hate speech of any kind, period.

  • Eddy Verhaeghe

    Ivan, stick to discussing the subject at hand. Your whatsaboutism is a cheap trick to deflect attention away from Valentina Lisitsa’s outrageous behaviour.
    On a moderated board you’d be chucked off immediately.

    • Eddy Verhaeghe

      My pleasure, I’ll continue to flag you and to vote you down. Whatsaboutism, deviation from the subject, etc… have no place in a civilised debate.

      • BCHistorian

        Sad, Ivan. It’s you that began the irrelevant conversation. Kudos for KLM for doing what it right.

        • BCHistorian

          I do speak the language, dear Ivan. I’m fully aware of Kotsaba. It doesn’t take away from your habit of deviating from the subject. A publicity stunt, you say? Hardly. It was simply the right thing to do. I would say exactly the same thing if it was anyone else hate-mongering toward any group, ethnicity, or belief. Hate is hate and mustn’t be tolerated, unlike in your roSSiya.

          • Vol Ya

            Actually releasing the many Ukrainian soldiers who are being held prisoner by the russian terrorists in Donbas and are being tortured, this is far more important than the plight of this one individual. But then again for a russian troll like you, you don’t care about that.

  • Vol Ya

    Bravo Inna. Great work. Thank you for bringing this matter to KLM’s attention. I respect what you do very much. Communicating with these brainwashed Russians is not an easy job. I am glad you have the patience to do it. I am not sure when the average russian will wake up and realize that putin is destroying Russia. I am not surprised by the threats you have received. Russians only know one thing, to kill, to destroy. Look at all the death and destruction Russia caused in Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Chechnya, it is the russian way. Stay strong. We will prevail over these Russian war criminals.

  • Vol Ya

    You are a russian troll and a loser. The job of a Russian troll is to lie, mislead and confuse the public, and divert attention from the issue before us.

    • Vol Ya

      Wrong you loser Russian troll. The issue before us is that Valentina Lisitsa is promoting hatred against Ukraine and her music was removed from KLM airlines. That is the issue before us here. Now I know you russian trolls are stupid but at least you should read before you speak. This is just more evidence of how stupid you russian trolls are.

  • Vol Ya

    Please do your part to get rid of the russian trolls on this website. The job of a Russian troll is to lie, mislead and confuse the public, and divert attention from the issue before us. When you come across a russian troll, and they are easy to identify, vote them down and it is also important to click on the flag to the right of their name.