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Selective Outrage over Ukraine POWs

By       Message Robert Parry     Permalink
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Cross-posted from Consortium News


The New York Times has taken deep umbrage over an unseemly parade staged by ethnic Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine featuring captured Ukrainian soldiers. The Times noted that the Geneva Conventions prohibit humiliation of POWs, surely a valid point.

But the Times -- in its profoundly biased coverage of the Ukraine crisis -- apparently feels that other aspects of this nasty civil war are less newsworthy, such as the Kiev government's bombardment of eastern Ukrainian cities sending the death toll into the thousands, including children and other non-combatants. Also downplayed has been Kiev's dispatch of neo-Nazi storm troopers to spearhead the urban combat in ethnic Russian towns and cities in the east.

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When the Times finally noticed this street-fighting role of neo-Nazi militias, that remarkable fact -- the first time armed Nazis were dispatched by any government to kill people in Europe since World War II -- was consigned to the last three paragraphs of a long article on a different topic, essentially a throwaway reference.

Similarly, the Kiev regime's artillery fire on residential areas -- killing many civilians and, over the weekend, damaging a hospital -- has been treated by the Times as a minor afterthought. But Times' readers are supposed to get worked up over the tasteless demonstration in Donetsk, all the better to justify more killing of ethnic Russians.

Though no one was killed or injured during Sunday's anti-Ukrainian march -- and rebel troops protected the captured soldiers from angry citizens -- the Times led its Ukraine coverage on Monday with the humiliation of the POWs. The article by Andrew E. Kramer and Andrew Higgins made a point of contrasting the ugly scene in Donetsk with more orderly celebrations of Ukrainian independence elsewhere. The story began:

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"On a day when Ukrainians celebrated their independence from the Soviet Union with parades and speeches, pro-Russia separatists in the eastern part of the country staged a grim counter-spectacle: a parade that mocked the national army and celebrated the deaths and imprisonment of its soldiers.

"Leading the procession was an attractive young blond woman carrying an assault rifle, followed by several dozen captured Ukrainian soldiers, filthy, bruised and unkempt, their heads shaved, wearing fetid camouflage uniforms and looking down at their feet.

"Onlookers shouted that the men should be shot, and pelted the prisoners with empty beer bottles, eggs and tomatoes as they stumbled down Artyomovsk Street, Donetsk's main thoroughfare. ... People in the crowd shouted 'fascists!' and 'perverts!' and separatist fighters held back a man who tried to punch a prisoner."

The Times then noted:

"The Geneva Conventions' rules for treating prisoners of war prohibit parading them in public, but the treatment of the wounded, disheveled prisoners seemed to offend few of those watching, who in any case had turned out for the promise of seeing a ghoulish spectacle. 'Shoot them!' one woman yelled."

Kiev's Abuses

While it's certainly true that POWs shouldn't be mistreated, it should be at least equally newsworthy when civilians, including children, are being killed by indiscriminate artillery fire directed into cities -- or when right-wing storm troopers under Nazi banners are attacking and occupying eastern Ukrainian cities and towns. But the Times' bias in favor of the Kiev regime has been most obvious in the newspaper's selective outrage.

At the start of the crisis last winter, the Times sided with the "pro-democracy" demonstrators in Kiev's Maidan square as they sought to topple democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych, who had rebuffed an association agreement with the European Union that included harsh austerity measures prescribed by the International Monetary Fund. Yanukovych opted for a more generous offer from Russia of a $15 billion loan.

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Along with the entire U.S. mainstream media, the Times cheered on the violent overthrow of Yanukovych on Feb. 22 and downplayed the crucial role of well-organized neo-Nazi militias that surged to the front of the Maidan protests in the final violent days. Then, with Yanukovych out and a new coup regime in, led by U.S. hand-picked Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the IMF austerity plan was promptly approved.

Since then, the Times has behaved as essentially a propaganda organ for the new regime in Kiev and for the State Department, pushing "themes" blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin for the crisis. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com's "Ukraine, Though the US 'Looking Glass.'"]

Some of the most egregious New York Times reporting has been its slanted and erroneous summations of the Ukraine narrative. For instance, immediately after the violent coup (from Feb. 20-22), it was reported that among the 80 people killed were more than a dozen police officers. But, as the Times' pro-coup sympathies hardened, the storyline changed to: "More than 80 protesters were shot to death by the police as an uprising spiraled out of control in mid-February." [NYT, March 5]

Both the dead police and the murky circumstances surrounding the sniper fire that inflicted many of the casualties simply disappeared from the Times' narrative. It became flat fact: evil "pro-Yanukovych" police gunned down innocent "pro-democracy" demonstrators.

Whose Life Matters

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http://www.consortiumnews.com

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at
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