Vladimir Kornilov: Stop, It’s Fake! What Propagandists From Ukraine Received An Award For In The US

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard



The American National Democratic Institute (NDI) at a ceremony in Washington handed over its annual award to the Ukrainian propaganda structure under the name “Stopfake”. This platform is known for producing anti-Russian fakes of poor quality. Why Americans are favourably disposed towards the creators of fakes from Ukraine is in the material of RIA Novosti.

The name of the event corresponded to the image of the awarded: “Disinformation vs Democracy”. If to read what disinformation about Russia and the Russian media was spread by the Ukrainian “Stopfake” over the last year, it is possible to assume that the award from the NDI is something like the “Golden Raspberry” for media – awarded for the most primitive perversion of truth. However, if to listen what was said by the former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright while handing over the award, it becomes clear that the American “independent” institution (in reality, functioning using American taxpayer money) seriously considered that the Ukrainian propagandists “fight against disinformation”, and not vice versa.

Secretary Madeleine Albright, Dr. Phil Howard, Maria Ressa, senator Chris Murphy, and Margo Gontar (Stopfake.org) during a dinner at the NDI 2017 Democracy Award in Washington

“Stopfake” is a platform created in the spring of 2014 allegedly to “combat Kremlin propaganda” [and it also targeted Stalker Zone! in the past – ed]. Since then it has actively been fuelled on the money of Soros and a number of western embassies, and in its activity it doesn’t have an aversion to blatant disinformation that is easy to verify and disprove. Sometimes “Stopfake” menacingly declares real news as a “Russian fake”, then later peppers it with various links to modestly … confirm the authenticity of the information. But most often this structure acts even more primitively: it presents reports published by the Ukrainian media and fakes hallmarked by Ukrainian producers of fakes as “Russian propaganda”. If to analyse the majority of reports of the grant-eating structure, it turns out that practically all media agencies of Ukraine are the most real mouthpieces of “Kremlin propaganda”.

Verification is “not the king’s affair”

Here is one of the freshest examples. “The Russian and pro-Russian media spread news that in Ukraine allegedly all feldshers will be dismissed for the sake of reducing the expenditure on medicine, and paramedics will take their place,” angrily asserts “Stopfake”, reinforcing the “accusation” with a couple of links to Russian websites, which, in turn, honestly referred to a primary source – the statement of the People’s Deputy of Ukraine Igor Shurma from the tribune of parliament. Most likely, the provincial propagandists didn’t hear anything about western standards of freedom of speech. They are based, in particular, on the fact that the words publicly stated by the politician are his responsibility, and the media must provide access to such information, because “people have a right to know”.

Examining this statement, the propagandists of “Stopfake” didn’t even bother to glance at the primary source — the shorthand report of Shurma’s speech of November 8th, 2017. Because otherwise, they wouldn’t examine the quotes from other media, but precisely the facts that he gave. Back then the deputy reported that the decision of the Ministry of Healthcare of Ukraine – since November 1st, 2017, in the system of emergency aid the position of feldsher was liquidated and replaced by the position of paramedic. Shurma specified that the functions of paramedics and feldshers differ considerably, and the Ministry of Healthcare in general didn’t provide for the day of the introduction of this provision neither its inclusion in the Code of laws on labour nor the training of feldshers. He explained that, according to the labour code, all feldshers must be dismissed from their post and suggest that they hold the position of paramedic: “But, in accordance with the changes approved by the Ministry of Healthcare and to the directory of professions, it is impossible because their qualification characteristics differ considerably”.

Without having studied the shorthand report, the authors of “Stopfake” attributed to the parliamentarian words that he didn’t say. Moreover, in the initial reports of news information websites of Ukraine and (we emphasize) the Russian media agencies referring to them, such erratum was still justified — they referred to Shurma’s speech hot off the press, and “by ear”. But “fighters against Russian propaganda” wrote about this three days later and could quietly during this time verify the shorthand report. They could’ve, but it’s “not the king’s affair” to verify the facts and quotes.

The “Stopfake” news program

Ministry of Healthcare of Ukraine as a “mouthpiece of Russian propaganda”

As a “refutation of the Russian fake” the propagandists refer to the report of the Ministry of Healthcare of Ukraine, which – via backdating – tries to justify itself for frankly non-professional actions: “Medics with the corresponding education and skills automatically hold positions with new professional titles”. However, here they immediately recognise their gaffe: “On this day the Ministry of Healthcare of Ukraine, together with experts, brings the normative-legal acts connected to these changes into accord”.

Let’s pay attention to the fact that this statement of the department appeared in the evening of November 8th, already after Shurma made a noise in the Verkhovna Rada. Thereby the ministry recognized the full correctness of the deputy oppositionist: at the time of November 1st, when feldshers suddenly realised that they were no longer feldshers, the norms hadn’t yet been developed. Respectively, thousands of people working in the system of emergency aid found themselves outside the legal framework (which, in fact, made the politician indignant).

If the Ukrainian propagandists indeed like to get to the bottom of the truth and facts, and not to imitate work for the sake of western awards, then they wouldn’t be too lazy to find out that the discussion about replacing feldshers with paramedics has been ongoing not for the first year, and they would be very surprised to learn that Shurma’s correctness was also confirmed a year ago by the Minister of Health of Ukraine Ulana Suprun. She, at the time, declared that “paramedics are more educated than the current feldshers”, and that Ukraine has only just started the development of their program of training, having already sent as many as two experts to the US. It is possible to imagine how much time will be spent on retraining thousands of Ukrainian feldshers, considering that it concerns different specialties and functions.

Crisis opens opportunities

What does “Stopfake” contest? Who does it accuse? And the most important thing — what relation is there to “Kremlin propaganda” here if nearly all Ukrainian media agencies wrote about this problem?

Here is the “high-quality” work that today the Americans hand awards over for. They issue awards just for the fact that the propaganda structure attracts to Russia in an inconceivable way false accusations of producing fakes.

“Every crisis opens opportunities,” said the co-founder of the “Stopfake” project Margo Gontar at the ceremony. It is difficult to argue against: just that in our times of crisis such primitive, one-sided propaganda appeared to be in demand at the highest level. In the western media appeals to the leadership of social networks to use Ukrainian “experts” in the “fight against Russian disinformation” already sound. It is better not to think about what effect there will be if such appeals are listened to.

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