Month: July 2018

Ukraine Attacks Journalists Who Reported Israeli Weapons Flow to Its Neo-Nazi Militia

Ukraine’s embassy in Israel attacked Grayzone editor Max Blumenthal by name, along with The Real News and Electronic Intifada, spreading false accusations after they reported on Ukrainian neo-Nazis using Israeli weapons.

By Ben Norton

Ukraine’s embassy in Israel has attacked Grayzone editor Max Blumenthal by name and indirectly implicated this writer, Grayzone contributor Ben Norton, for reporting on Israel’s arming of Ukrainian neo-Nazis.

While the Ukrainian government has falsely accused us of spreading “fake news,” it has ironically spread fake news itself, incorrectly alleging that Blumenthal has been writing under the pseudonym “John Brown” — based on a “quick search on the internet.”

The Ukrainian government has also denied that Israel has armed Ukraine’s neo-Nazi militia the Azov battalion, even after Azov posted a video on its own YouTube channel showing it using unmistakably Israeli weapons.

On June 10, the Ukrainian embassy in Israel published an open letter to Aluf Benn, the editor-in-chief of the major Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Kiev condemned Haaretz for publishing a June 9 news report titled “Rights Groups Demand Israel Stop Arming neo-Nazis in Ukraine.”

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Ben Norton is a journalist and writer. He is a producer and reporter for The Real News, and a contributor to the Grayzone Project and FAIR. Ben co-hosts the Moderate Rebels podcast with Max Blumenthal. His website is BenNorton.com, and he tweets at @BenjaminNorton.

Ukraine President’s Adviser Writes ‘Heil Hitler’ Neo-Nazi Symbol on Facebook

Yuri Biryukov, who advises Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko and defense minister, wrote a Facebook post using the neo-Nazi symbol “1488,” which combines a white supremacist slogan with “Heil Hitler.”

By Ben Norton

An adviser for Ukraine’s president and defense minister wrote a neo-Nazi symbol on Facebook that means “Heil Hitler.”

This comes at a time when neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine, some of which have received direct support from the Ukrainian government, are terrorizing ethnic minorities from the Roma and Jewish communities.

Ukraine’s billionaire oligarch President Petro Poroshenko, who is known as the “Chocolate King” due to his time in the confectionery industry, has campaigned for Kyiv to join NATO.

Since coming to power in 2014, the pro-Western Ukrainian leader has been advised by Yuri Biryukov, an extreme-right nationalist who also advises Ukraine’s defense minister.

Ukraine’s Glavred Media reported that Biryukov posted a neo-Nazi slogan on his personal Facebook page, where he has nearly 150,000 followers.

Biryukov wrote the Nazi symbol “1.4.8.8.” The latter half of this symbol, 88, is code for “Heil Hitler” (with H being the eighth letter of the Latin alphabet). The former half is a reference to the white supremacist slogan known as the “14 Words” (“We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children”).

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Ben Norton is a journalist and writer. He is a producer and reporter for The Real News, and a contributor to the Grayzone Project and FAIR. Ben co-hosts the Moderate Rebels podcast with Max Blumenthal. His website is BenNorton.com, and he tweets at @BenjaminNorton.

Clint Watts’ World: How America’s top Russian disinformation expert pushes disinformation to justify censorship

When I challenged the high tech flim-flam man behind the Hamilton 68 Russian bots tracker, he ducked my questions. Then his fans asked me if I was a Russian asset.

By Ilias Stathatos

“Nothing is as evil as what Russia manages to pull off… We [Americans] just focus on extremists. Everything I have seen is democracy promotion. I haven’t seen the US creating fake personas.”

These were the words of Clint Watts, a self-styled counter-terror expert who has emerged through the passion play of Russiagate and hailed as “the pre-eminent experts on Russian influence operations via social media.” Watts has warned that computational propaganda has placed America on the verge of civil war, and suggested before a Senate panel that censorship of online media might be necessary.

“America’s war with itself has already begun,” Watts proclaimed earlier this year. “We all must act now on the social media battlefield to quell information rebellions that can quickly lead to violent confrontations and easily transform us into the Divided States of America.” 

Watts is currently on a book tour that has seen him earn fawning prime time treatment from Bill Maher while avoiding uncomfortable questions from the public about his work. In fact, Watts has not encountered a single critical question since he released his book, “Messing With the Enemy: Surviving in a Social Media World of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians and Fake News,” this May.

And he should have, given his record. Watts was the moving force behind the Hamilton 68 Russian bot tracker, which maintains a dashboard claiming to expose Russian influence on everything from the NFL’s anti-police violence protests to the anti-fracking movement to the Parkland shootings.

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Ilias Stathatos is a journalist. He has reported for numerous Greek print and online media, focusing on international news and labour journalism. He was the London correspondent for two national newspapers, an Investigative Journalism fellow at the University of London and is currently based in New York. You can reach him @ilistathatos

VIDEO: Congress welcomes an actual fascist as Nazi violence rages in Ukraine

I asked the Washington hosts of Andriy Parubiy, the speaker of Ukraine’s parliament and founder of two neo-Nazi parties, why they were legitimizing an open fascist at the heart of the extremism plaguing his country.

By Max Blumenthal

While racist violence raged through Ukraine, punctuated by a wave of attacks on Roma encampments by the state-funded C14 neo-Nazi militia, Congress played host to an actual Ukrainian fascist. He was Andriy Parubiy, and besides being the proud founder of two Nazi-like parties — the Social-National Party and the Patriot of Ukraine — he was the speaker of Ukraine’s parliament.

During a meeting hosted by the American Foreign Policy Society inside the Senate, I seized the chance to ask Parubiy’s hosts why they were welcoming a figure who was so central to the extremism overtaking Ukrainian society. I also put the question to Michael Carpenter, a former Pentagon official who helped deepen the US relationship with post-coup Ukraine during the Obama administration.

The responses I received reflected a semi-official policy of denying the very existence of Ukraine’s far-right plague in order to turn the heat up on Moscow.

The Ukrainian lawmaker appeared on a panel alongside fellow speakers of Eastern European parliaments eager to join the US-NATO crusade against Russia in exchange for handsome aid packages. At the top of the agenda was stopping the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany, a project viewed in Washington as an existential threat to US economic leverage over Europe.

Earlier in the day, Parubiy held private discussions with the Republican Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan and enjoyed what Under Secretary of State for Arms Control Andrea Thomson described as an “excellent meeting” with a “proactive” leader.

Parubiy’s first meeting with Ryan, which Ben Norton covered for the Grayzone last June, was also treated as business as usual, without a single protest or critical word from the Beltway press.

Watch my exchange in the video report below, which I co-produced with Thomas Hedges.

Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and the author of books including best-selling Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement That Shattered the Party, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, The Fifty One Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza, and The Management of Savagery, which will be published later this year by Verso. He has also produced numerous print articles for an array of publications, many video reports and several documentaries including Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie and the forthcoming Killing Gaza. Blumenthal founded the Grayzone Project in 2015 to shine a journalistic light on America’s state of perpetual war and its dangerous domestic repercussions.