Western countries cling on to censorship to save ‘democracy’

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December 10th, 2016 – Fort Russ News – 

– Dr Tomasz Pierscionek – 

Western leaders, alongside their media allies, take a peculiar approach toward
free speech and democracy, one seemingly predicated on how these reconcile with
their own foreign policy objectives and who is affected – friend or foe.We see
how the US and its allies avoid criticising the Saudi regime’s
lack of democracy and free speech, alongside what is arguably the worst human
rights record of any nation in the 21st century. Saudi Arabia’s
leaders also escape judgement for their role in permitting the spread of the
reactionary Wahhabi/Salafist doctrine that forms the bedrock of Jihadi terror. 

Other nations whose human rights records appear saintly in comparison, are
singled out for criticism, destabilisation and, if all else fails, ‘humanitarian
intervention’. A similar irony is seen when progressive
and liberal Western democracies take a side step in an illiberal and regressive
direction, if their own interests are perceived as being under threat.

month, MEPs voted to endorse a non-legislative resolution to counteract “propaganda from countries, such as Russia, and non-state
actors, like Daesh, Al-Qaeda and other violent jihadi terrorist groups”,
citing the Russia Today television network and the Sputnik website as part of a
range of tools and instruments”
Russia is using “to challenge democratic values, divide Europe, gather
domestic support and create the perception of failed states in the EU’s eastern

The resolution follows a May 2016 report by Anna Fotyga, Polish MEP and member
of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group in the European
Parliament. The report, EU strategic
communications with a view to counteracting propaganda
, seeks ways to
suppress ideas and opinions which do not fit with the idea that West is best.
Although the resolution was carried, a majority of MEPs were not convinced of
the dangerousness of Russian propaganda. 304 voted in favour of the resolution
but the majority either voted against it (179) or abstained (208). 

Some MEPs
found the whole process a laughing matter. Javier Couso Permuy, MEP from Spain’s
left wing coalition Izquierda Unida commented: “This report is insane. It fosters hysteria against Russia
and neo-McCarthyism in Europe. It’s a caricature of Russia,

new Iron Curtain?

The concept that Russia is annexing the innocent minds
of European citizens, to destabilise our natural way of thinking, suggests we
lack robustness to alternate views and opinions and are unable to make up our
own minds about what we hear and see. Such rhetoric is reminiscent of the Cold
War. This time however, we have a new (media) Iron Curtain to keep out
degenerate Eastern influences that threaten to ‘subvert’ Western culture. 

outlets like Russia Today, whether or not you agree with the content and ideas
espoused, promote diversity of thought and provide a different perspective on
world events that is urgently needed to broaden opinions,
balance perspectives, and sometimes blow gaping holes in narratives promoted by
Western politicians and media. Such is the danger of
free speech: sometimes it just does not go your way. So, is Russian ‘propaganda’ just too good or is
EU/US propaganda not up to scratch to ‘protect’ us from different ideas? Could it be that the West is
simply running out of propaganda, along with those willing to adhere to the oft
repeated and worn out hype. 

The USSR started to collapse when it could no
longer offer its citizens a decent standard of living. No amount of
anti-Western propaganda could fill stomachs with food, light a hearth, or fix a
leaky roof. In a similar way, Europeans are more concerned with falling living
standards brought about by austerity and have less time to think about, let
alone support, the disastrous global ambitions of the powerful and wealthy.
Although providing a very temporary distraction from our domestic problems, no
amount of blaming Russia for everything from Brexit to Trump will fix these problems.
(Arguably, further military spending and foreign adventures will make European
citizens’ standards
of living fall further and faster). 

Blaming Russia is not only a pathetic way
of deflecting from the EU’s own domestic problems, but also causes us to miss
out on the many great opportunities (economic, cultural, political) that could
exist if we had friendly relations with Russia. Such cooperation is unpalatable for the US, who would feel threatened by the combined
economic, military, and cultural might of a combined EU-Russia bloc. Attacking
media outlets that challenge the status quo will only lead to more people
watching them – as happened in the last years of the Eastern Bloc. 

Tired of a
crumbling economy, sick of the incompetence of their leaders (sound familiar?)
and annoyed at being told to steer clear of Western influences, the peoples
behind the Iron Curtain started watching and listening to Western television
and radio channels in increasing numbers. Potential punishments did not even
prove a sufficient deterrent. Similarly, clamping down on media
such as Russia Today and Sputnik will only make them even more appealing.

Freedomand democracy’ courtesy of the West

of free speech and democracy, let us take a look at a nation that has (with
Western assistance, of course) lost both in recent years. Following the 2014
coup in Ukraine, with EU and US politicians doing far more than operating
alternative news channels, the country descended into chaos. Far right
paramilitaries, some containing openly neo-Nazi elements, have been used in the
subsequent civil conflict or reportedly incorporated into the state apparatus,
such as the police force and military. 

Whereas the populations of two Eastern regions
of Ukraine, the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, continue
to steadfastly resist ongoing artillery shelling and incursions by the Kiev
regime, civilians in the rest of Ukraine live in fear of arbitrary arrest and
torture by their government’s security apparatus. Some have simply disappeared
or been murdered by unknown assailants. In addition to the infamous murder of
at least 48 trade unionists and other opponents of the Poroshenko regime, who
died after the Trade Union building in Odessa was set alight by a nationalist
mob on the 2nd May 2014, many more human rights violations have occurred since.

example, journalist and writer Oles Buzina, a critic of the Poroshenko regime
and a campaigner against fascism in Ukraine, was murdered near his home in Kiev
by unknown assailants. The killing took place only a day after Oleg
Kalashnikov, a former MP from ex-President Victor Yanukovich’s party, was found
shot dead. Several supporters of the former President have also died in
mysterious circumstances, ostensibly reported as suicides. 

In April 2016, Russian citizen and
activist Andrei Sokolov disappeared after being kidnapped by unknown assailants
upon leaving a courtroom in Ukraine. He was subsequently held for several
months in a secret prison. Alla Alexandrovskaya, a
former MP and head of the Kharkov branch of the Communist Party of Ukraine, was
arrested and detained without trial for months. She has been released but reportedly remains under house
arrest. Journalist
and blogger Ruslan Kotsaba, a supporter of the
Maidan movement that led to the overthrow of the elected Yanukovich government,
was arrested in February
2015 for treason after producing a Youtube video in which he refused to be
conscripted into the army to take part in a civil war against fellow Ukrainians
who do not wish to be governed by the Poroshenko regime.He was released from
prison in July 2016 after serving 18 months in detention.

The far right paramilitary
formations which exist in today’s Ukraine were used to spearhead the overthrow
of an elected, though corrupt, president in 2014. They have since been
unleashed against their (former) fellow countrymen and women, who wanted no
part in the new nationalistic and xenophobic Ukraine that exploded onto the
world stage in February 2014. During the Second World War, under the leadership
of Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera, the Ukrainian Insurgent
Army (also known as the UPA)

murdered thousands of Jewish and non Jewish Poles and Russians. In the single region of Volyn, the
UPA slaughtered an estimated 40,000 Poles
in order to ethnically cleanse the region of
non-Ukrainians in preparation for a future Ukrainian state, as per the 1943
decision of the UPA’s politician wing, the OUN (Organisation of Ukrainian

In July 1941, OUN
militants participated in the Lviv Pogrom, alongside the invading German
troops, in which thousands of Jews were killed
. After the 2014 coup, modern day sympathisers of
Bandera went about the task of trying to purify Ukraine of ethnic Russians and
‘traitors’. The paramilitary organisations that played a role in the invasion
of the seceding Donetsk and Lugansk regions make no secret of their ideological

Back in November 2014, Ukraine was one of only three
countries, alongside the US and Canada, which voted against a resolution passed
at the UN General Assembly “Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-nazism and
other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism,
racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance”. 115 nations voted
in favour of the resolution with 55 abstaining.A similar resolution, condemning the glorification of Nazism, was approved by the UN in
November 2016. This time 131 nations voted in favour, 48 abstained and three
(the US, Ukraine and Palau) voted against.(As noted by the
Jerusalem Post, many of the abstentions included EU nations). 

Few Westerners may be aware of Bandera’s background
but undoubtedly fewer know that there is actually a Stepan Bandera museum in
London: the ‘Stepan Bandera Museum of the Liberation Struggle in London’ is
mentioned on the website of the “Association
of Ukrainians in Great Britain

Becoming the very thing you despise

Whilst venerating Bandera, some patriotic
Ukrainians screech about the crimes of the USSR. Yet, in some ways, they have
bought back into existence the very thing they claim to despise. In post-coup Ukraine,
billboards have appeared calling on citizens to report
those deemed “separatists”, which can allegedly mean anything from not showing
enough patriotic fervour to criticism of the civil war. Offenders face lengthy
prison sentences, or worse. Encouraging the denunciation of your fellow
citizens for thought crimes is about as Stalinist as it gets. Some examples of
these billboards (with translations and links) are provided here:

<< A Domestic >> separatist:

•   Mocks national symbols

•   Awaits the coming of the <<Russian world>>

Punishment: 7-12 year prison sentence

See, hear – phone 0 800 501 482


Do you speak the occupier’s language? [i.e.:

Undoubtedly you are helping the occupier!


Domestic separatist?

We are coming for you!

Punishment: 7-12 year prison sentence


How to identify a separatist? [From bottom left

•   Talks about how life was better in the past [in the USSR]

•   Wears a St George’s ribbon [symbol of Russia’s victory in WWII]

•   Believes the Russian media

•   Believes that power in Ukraine was seized by fascists

•   Blames America for everything

•   Uses the following vocabulary: <<Junta>><<Maidanites>>
Russians are our brothers>><<Crimea is ours>>

•   Shouts that Ukrainian gangs created a war in the Donbass


Even the internet is patrolled by zealous ‘patriots’,
ready to root out their enemies and denounce any dissenting voices as agents of
the Kremlin. A couple of years ago, I published an article titled Ukraine:
The War on Democracy
. Much to my amusement, the article
also appeared as an Op-ed on the London based, pro-Maidan newspaper (some might
say propaganda outlet) Kyiv Post. Having most likely just read the headline and
deeply immersed in the delusion that the 2014 coup would open up a path to an
EU style democracy, which was being hindered by a (yet to be proven) ‘Russian
invasion’, the paper pinched the article from another website without actually
reading it. Either that, or the new ‘separatist’ office intern hadn’t yet been
taught how to think. Shortly afterwards, the Kyiv Post were informed of
their ‘mistake’ by readers who published comical comments, some accusing me of
being a paid agent of the Kremlin or even believing that the Kyiv Post had been

I even had the pleasure of catching the attention of a
senior advocate for US interests, Edward Lucas, who felt my article was “even worse than Pilger”, which I took as a complement. (Edward Lucas writes
for the Times, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Foreign Policy and Standpoint. He
describes himself as a “strong critic of the fugitive NSA contractor Edward
Snowden” and is also senior
vice President at the Washington based Center for European Policy Analysis). 

CEPA describes itself as “a non-profit policy institute dedicated to the study of
Central and Eastern Europe with offices in Washington and Warsaw. Our mission
is to promote an economically vibrant, strategically secure and politically
free Central and Eastern Europe with close and enduring ties to the United
States and boasts that “Through
cogent analysis and effective relationships, CEPA programs have helped bring
about positive change in U.S.-CEE relations — from strengthening the U.S.
strategic presence in Poland, Romania and the Baltic States and forging
industry-government dialogues on unconventional energy sources to bolstering
Western solidarity in support of Ukraine. Whereas Mr Lucas is perhaps reimbursed for his efforts in
expanding US influence across Eastern Europe, the Maidan crowd have been gifted
with a very different Ukraine from the one they hoped for back in 2013.

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