[Marxism] Slavoj Žižek · Barbarism with a Human Face: Lenin v. Stalin in Kiev · LRB 8 May 2014

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Apr 30 17:32:37 MDT 2014

On 4/30/14 7:22 PM, Joseph Catron wrote:
> If he's managed to cherry-pick four countries that favor his argument, let
> him say that. It wouldn't be a basis for the claim he's made here.

Frankly, it wouldn't matter to me if there was not a single ultraright 
(a more correct term--you are right to point that out) that backed 
Putin. The main ultraright danger is within Russia itself. Putin is 
relying on a Russian nationalist movement that can accurately be 
described as Red-Brown. This is not just words, it is deeds--from the 
attacks on gay people to the thuggish behavior in east Ukraine. Just 
watch that video I filed earlier of Vice reporter Simon Ostrovsky being 
abducted and beaten. One can understand how those aligned with the 
Kremlin might do such things since Russia is one of the more dangerous 
places in the world for journalists.


Covering the Ukraine conflict grows increasingly dangerous

Harassment and intimidation of journalists—both foreign and 
Ukrainian—have become commonplace

By Alison Langley

Tuesday, three Norwegian journalists from public TV broadcaster NRK said 
they were stopped at an improvised checkpoint as they were leaving 
occupied Crimea on their way to Ukraine. Guards confiscated three 
laptops containing all the material the team had filmed, along with 
memory sticks, a small camera, bulletproof vests, and helmets.

“The mood was extremely aggressive,” one of the journalists, Jan Espen 
Kruse, told NRK’s website. “They stood there with their masks and loaded 
weapons and accused us of being spies.”

The Norwegian team was lucky. They were detained for only about 45 
minutes. As the standoff between Russia and the fledgling government of 
Ukraine deepens, harassment and intimidation of journalists—both foreign 
and Ukrainian—have become commonplace, seriously undermining independent 
reporting from the crisis zone, not to mention making life perilous for 
the journalists themselves.

On Sunday, three Ukrainian journalists—Kateryna Butko, Alexandra 
Ryazantseva, and Olena Maksymenko—were held by the pro-Russian party 
“Russian Unity” for three days before being released miles away in the 
port city of Sevastopol. American reporter Simon Ostrovsky and British 
videographer Frederick Paxton posted Tuesday on YouTube a dramatic 
incident on the Kherson border where they, too, claimed to have been 
roughed up by pro-Russian forces.

“What we are seeing in Crimea is a dismantling of media freedom,” said 
Dunja Mijatovic, representative for Freedom of the Media at the 
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, in an email 
interview. “It is disconcerting.”

Journalists trying to report in Crimea and the eastern part of Ukraine 
are harassed, intimidated, and physically attacked on a daily basis. 
Media outlets are being shut down. Internet news sites are subjected to 
cyber attacks that hinder their work.

“It’s getting more intense and less safe,” said Christopher J. Miller, 
an editor at Kyiv Post, in a telephone interview Sunday, just after he 
had just returned from Crimea. Pro-Russian forces aimed guns at him as 
he tried to report, he said.

The transmission of four TV stations—Channel 5, 1+1, Inter, and 
Chernomorskaya Teleradiokompaniya (Black Sea TV)—has been blocked, 
replaced with signals from Russian counterparts. Now Crimean citizens, 
69 percent of whom get their news from television, can only watch 
stations like Russia-24, produced by the All-Russian State Television 
and Radio Broadcasting Company.

Last week, masked men in unmarked army gear forced their way into the 
Crimean Center for Investigative Journalism and smashed equipment, 
including the group’s server. The group was only able to recover its 
archives with technical help from the San Francisco-based Global 
Investigative Journalism Network. Journalists for the Crimean Center, 
working from their homes, continue to report. On one page of their site, 
updated daily, they document alleged bullying of journalists and 
opponents of the Russian occupation.

The bullying extends online as well. Russia’s telecom supervisory board, 
Roskomnadzor, today Wednesday warned Lenta.ru, one of the most popular 
Moscow-based news websites, for posting “extremist materials” when it 
ran an interview with Dmytro Yarosh.

Yarosh, who made his name earlier this year throwing firebombs at 
Ukrainian police, is now deputy director of Ukraine’s security council 
in the new interim government. The leader of the far right party is also 
running for president in Ukraine, although he is not expected to poll well.

On March 10, Lenta.ru reported that YouTube had been blocked from Crimea 
and parts of Russia due, again, to the posting of “extremist material.” 
Many of the videos appear to be examples of pro-Russian groups in Crimea 
roughing up journalists and activists. Later in the day the agency said 
the social media site was working again, albeit sporadically.

“Members of the media are working under almost impossible conditions in 
Crimea,” whereas the situation in the rest of Ukraine is better,” 
Mijatovic said.

Better is relative. Mijatovic’s office counted nearly 200 journalists, 
photographers, videographers, and drivers who were brutally beaten, 
mainly by law enforcement officers, during the protests at Maidan Square 
in Kiev earlier this year, under the last government. One journalist, 
Vyacheslav Veremyi from the newspaper Vesti, was murdered.

While post-Soviet Ukraine was never a bastion of press freedom and media 
independence, conditions for the media worsened when the recently ousted 
Viktor Yanukovych came to power in 2010, according to Freedom House, a 
US-based NGO that monitors human rights.

Business magnates with varying political interests own and influence 
most major outlets, limiting the availability of unbiased professional 
news outlets. Further, Freedom House said, the state exercises 
politicized control over national and regional broadcasting.

Pressure on independent voices increased dramatically last year, Freedom 
House said, after a crony of Yanukovych purchased TVi, one of the last 
independent stations. As a result, 30 of its top journalists resigned.

Whether the interim government is willing or able to do a better job is 
still up in the air. Mijatovic, who met with senior administration 
officials in Kiev and Crimea, said the Organization for Security and 
Cooperation in Europe is looking to start projects that can rapidly 
strengthen independent reporting in Ukraine. First on the agenda is 
providing for journalists’ safety: Her office hopes to train reporters 
and photographers to report in conflict zones.

What helps, she added, is that Ukraine has an active civil society that 
supports journalists, and so far independent media have shown signs of 
being able to work around problems. The blocked TV stations are now 
streaming from the internet. The Crimea Center for Investigative 
Journalism is back reporting. Websites, Facebook pages, and YouTube 
videos ensure that a broad array of viewpoints are at least available, 
if not widely seen.

Still, a fully functioning, strong, and independent press in Ukraine 
remains a distant goal.

“There are good signs coming from the interim authorities, but much more 
needs to be done in order to return to an environment of trust and 
ensure that journalists can work freely,” Mijatovic said.
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