Who is discrediting the Ukrainian army on freed territories? 


War in Donbas

Article by: Dmytro Barkar
Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina

Kyiv – Anti-Ukrainian propaganda, in particular, rumors about the monstrosities committed by the Ukrainian army, continues to spread in the towns and cities of Donbas which have been freed from armed groups of separatists. This is happening with Kyiv’s silent consent, some experts think. Meanwhile the Ministry of Internal Affairs claims they are doing everything necessary in order to counter the spread of separatist moods on freed territories. 

Groups of armed separatists continue to kill peaceful civilians and ruin the infrastructure of temporarily occupied localities, stated spokesman for the NSDC information center Andriy Lysenko on Monday.

“Throughout the day the mercenaries continued to fire at residential areas in the city. There were numerous reports of ruined buildings and fires. As a result of terrorist fire, two civilians died and another thirteen received shell injuries in Donetsk. Petrovsky, Kyivsky and Kuybyshevsky districts suffered the most damage. Residential apartment blocks and industrial facilities have been damaged,” Lysenko reports.

Meanwhile, according to information available to Radio Liberty, rumors continue to spread about the monstrous crimes committed by the Ukrainian soldiers continue to spread throughout the localities which had been freed from the separatists, for example, artillery fire and murder of civilians.

A forked rumor mill

On the territories which are being controlled by ‘DNR’ and ‘LNR’ groups, a forks rumor mill is in effect, says head of the Center of Military and Political Studies Dmytro Tymchuk. According to him, almost every building has representatives of mercenary groups attached to them, who visit peoples’ homes and tell them about the cruelty of the Ukrainian army.

Meanwhile, on the freed territory, information which discredits the Ukrainian state in general and the military in particular, is being spread with the encouragement of local officials, Tymchuk assumes. To his mind, this situation happened with Kyiv’s silent consent. There are many instances of how the local government representatives and local law enforcement servicemen were detained for a short period of time after freeing the cities, then they were let go and they, not so openly, but continued separatist activities, the expert thinks.

As such, in Sloviansk, the workers of the city library who are trying to organize pro-Ukrainian protests and appropriate education work, are constantly receiving threats, they ask the local police for help, however it gives no reaction in response, Dmytro Tymchuk says.

Besides, a significant part of local TV and radio studios on freed territories remain under control of former Party of Regions members, he adds.

As to the shootings, the separatist propaganda most frequently presents the actions of armed mercenaries and Russian army departments as “the atrocities of the Ukrainian army,” Tymchuk notes.

“The instances of fire are either on territories under mercenary control on the territory of localities which are close to the front line. There are also options of fire being opened by sabotage and intelligence groups. To the south of Donetsk and the north of Mariupol. This zone is where the DNR is active,” Tymchuk notes in a comment to Radio Liberty.

Herashchenko: the population of the liberated territories is ready to view rumors as the truth

Meanwhile the Ministry of Foreign Affairs blame the Internet for the spread of anti-Ukrainian propaganda. Meanwhile the government is doing everything possible to provide truthful information to the population, stated advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs Anton Herashchenko in a comment to Radio Liberty.

“Such rumors are spread through the Internet. Plus the residents of the territories themselves, liberated ones, but such that are bordering the ATO zone, are ready to view such rumors as the truth. We speak the truth on central TV channels, we write the truth on the Internet. Those who look and read the Internet see the truth,” Herashchenko says.

Dmytro Tymchuk agrees that the moods among the population of the freed territories are a good ground for the rumors that discredit the Ukrainian army. To his mind, 30 to 70 percent of the people there, depending on the locality in question, continue to sympathize with the separatists, given the lack of reliable information. As such, the central government should take the media situation on these territories under control and rectify the human resource policies regarding the government in the liberated towns of Donbas, the expert notes.

In the summer, Human Rights Watch activists accused both parties of the conflict in Donbas of violating human rights, in particular, they accused the Ukrainian army for using Grad systems against civilians. Amnesty International made a similar statement on October 1, also calling for both sides of the conflict with the demand to immediately cease missile fire at residential areas. Officially, Kyiv denies having opened fire at civilians.

Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina

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