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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 5/1/14

Who's the Propagandist: US or RT?

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Cross-posted from Consortium News

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Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland.
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The U.S. State Department, which has been caught promoting a series of false or dubious stories about Ukraine, is trying to give some substance to Secretary of State John Kerry's counter-complaint that Russia's RT network is a "propaganda bullhorn" promoting Russian President Vladimir Putin's "fantasy."

In a "Dipnote" of April 29, Richard Stengel, under secretary of state for public diplomacy, made some broad-brush criticisms of RT's content -- accusing the network of painting "a dangerous and false picture of Ukraine's legitimate government" by citing examples of fascism, anti-Semitism and terrorism surrounding the Kiev regime.

Stengel claims he knows the difference between news and propaganda because he spent seven years as managing editor of Time. He defines propaganda as "the deliberate dissemination of information that you know to be false or misleading in order to influence an audience" and asserts: "RT is a distortion machine, not a news organization."
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But Stengel offers no specific citations of the supposedly propagandistic stories done by RT, making it impossible to ascertain the precise wording or context of the RT content that he is criticizing. One basic rule of journalism is "show, don't tell," but Stengel apparently didn't learn that during his seven years in the top echelon of Time magazine.

Nevertheless, Stengel accuses RT of "disinformation" ranging from "assertions that peaceful protesters hired snipers to repeated allegations that Kiev is beset by violence, fascism and anti-Semitism, these are lies falsely presented as news."

Though it's impossible to fully assess Stengel's complaint because he doesn't specify the offending stories, the first complaint is an apparent reference to the mystery surrounding the identity of snipers who opened fire on protesters and police during the Maidan protests in Kiev on Feb. 20.

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The U.S. government, the U.S. press and the Maidan protesters were quick to blame President Viktor Yanukovych although he denied giving an order to fire on the protests and suggested the shootings may have been a provocation. That suspicion of "false-flag" violence -- as a way to spur on the coup against Yanukovych -- also was expressed by some neutral observers on the ground in Kiev.

Two European Union officials, Estonia's Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, were revealed discussing in a phone call their suspicions that elements of the protesters were responsible for the shootings.

"So there is a stronger and stronger understanding that behind snipers it was not Yanukovych, it was somebody from the new coalition," Paet told Ashton, as reported by the UK Guardian.

In other words, if Stengel is referring to RT's reporting about the sniper attacks, his assumption that RT was knowingly lying when it referenced a possible role of the Maidan protesters in the sniper shootings is itself false. Further, Stengel must have known that not all the Maidan protesters were "peaceful."

Hide the Neo-Nazis

Although the State Department has tried to hide the crucial role of neo-Nazi militias in overthrowing Yanukovych's elected government, it was well known at the time (and acknowledged by the Maidan protesters themselves) that far-right groups had organized 100-man brigades to carry out the final attacks. There was also widely broadcast news footage of these Maidan protesters hurling Molotov cocktails at police, more than a dozen who died in the clashes.

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Is Stengel really unaware of the involvement in the coup by neo-Nazi storm troopers from the Right Sektor and the Svoboda party, which both lionize World War II Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera? Does Stengel really not know about the prevalence of banners honoring Bandera, Nazi insignias at rallies and even the appearance of the Confederate battle flag unfurled at the Kiev City Hall as the universal symbol of white supremacy?

Just because virtually the entire U.S. press corps has joined in the U.S. government propagandized version of what happened during and after the violent overthrow of Yanukovych doesn't mean that RT and other news organizations have to shut their eyes, too.

For instance, the BBC, which is funded by the British government much as RT is funded by the Russian government, had the courage to run a segment on the Maidan's neo-Nazis, noting that the far-right groups were given four ministries in the new government in recognition of their important contribution.

Most significantly, the new chief of national security, Andriy Parubiy, was one of those neo-Nazis. He founded the Social-National Party of Ukraine in 1991, blending radical Ukrainian nationalism with neo-Nazi symbols. Parubiy also formed a paramilitary spinoff, the Patriots of Ukraine, and defended the awarding of the title, "Hero of Ukraine," to Bandera, whose paramilitary forces joined with the Nazis in exterminating Poles and Jews during World War II.

During the months of protests aimed at overthrowing Yanukovych, Parubiy became the commandant of "Euromaidan," the name for the Kiev uprising. Then, in mid-April as the new regime's national security chief and facing growing resistance in eastern Ukraine, Paubiy warned that he was siccing some of his paramilitary veterans, now incorporated in the National Guard, on the anti-regime protesters. On Twitter, he wrote, "Reserve unit of National Guard formed #Maidan Self-defense volunteers was sent to the front line this morning."

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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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