Several of our readers expressed concerns with some of the content in “A Word about the Azov Regiment: Yaroslava’s Song” by Zarina Zabrisky in the October issue of the Community Alliance newspaper.
Those concerns are as follows:
- “The Azov battalion is a known Nazi spinoff regiment of the Ukrainian army…Covering this battalion and not calling out their Nazi ties is something I’d expect of the mainstream media, not from the Community Alliance…Azov has been known for years as being ruthless Nazi gangster murderers.”
- “Good sources of information [on the Nazi connection] are Aron Maté, Max Blumenthal, the Grayzone, Democracy Now, Katie Halper [and] Jeffrey Sachs.”
- “There’s a tremendous and sophisticated propaganda machine about Ukraine, probably dating back to before the 2014 coup that overthrew the government to install the U.S. chosen leadership there, but certainly coming into prominence during that period.”
- “‘The Azov regiment has disassociated with the ultra-right movement.’ Yeah right! We’ve been played for suckers, and I resent this.”
The author, Zarina Zabrisky, was asked to respond. A summary of her response follows:
Unfortunately, these persons might be victims of Kremlin propaganda. I recognize several Kremlin narratives in the comments.
What happened in 2014 was not a coup d’état. It was the will of the Ukrainian people who got rid of Viktor Yanukovych, a corrupt politician installed by the Russian government and promoted by Paul Manafort, the same political consultant who served as an adviser to Donald Trump. Yanukovych fled to Russia, and he is still there.
I have been fighting Putin’s mafia state since 2012. I come from Saint Petersburg, and I know Putin‘s background. The gang that took over the Russian Federation is responsible for hundreds of thousands of lives.[Regarding Azov], I have contacted and interviewed several experts on the subject. One of the detailed accounts is currently forthcoming from Euromaidan Press. A personal side to the story: I am a Russian-Ukrainian Jew, and my great-grandparents were shot by the Nazis in Baby Yar. I am particularly careful with this subject.
On the subject of me being right-wing propaganda, apart from having a good laugh, please take a look at my coverage of the right-wing neo-Nazis and so on in the United States. I have been personally threatened by both Russian security and American neo-Nazis.
On a personal note: I just came back from the Izium mass burial exhumation and torture chambers in the Kharkiv region. I spoke with dozens of Ukrainians who lost loved ones, were tortured and lost their homes. I lived under the daily Russian bombardments for six months, and I owe it to Ukrainians to bring the truth to the world and not take personal offense. There are real mass graves and real bodies of civilians killed by the Russian military in Izium.
This is what I have been dealing with and writing about for the last 10 years. It is easy for left-minded Americans to make the mistake of siding with voices pushing anti-American narratives. The Kremlin knows that and exploits it.
- Regarding the referenced “good sources” of information:
- Aaron Maté is an RT (Russia Today) talking head who has tried to prove that Manafort and Yanukovych are not Putin’s puppets.
- The founder/editor of Real News, Paul Jay, is much loved and quoted on RT and other Russian media at least since 2010. He admires Putin and whitewashes Russian military aggression in Ukraine and Syria, as well as Putin’s crimes in Russia. He describes the USSR with nostalgia (he didn’t live there; I did).
- Max Blumenthal has often contributed to broadcasts on RT. In an interview with Tucker Carlson on Fox News in November 2017, Blumenthal defended RT against “the charge that it’s Kremlin propaganda.” Blumenthal founded the Grayzone website within a month after his visit to Moscow. In an October 2019 article for New Politics magazine, Gilbert Achcar wrote that Blumenthal’s Grayzone, along with the World Socialist website, has “the habit of demonizing all left-wing critics of Putin and the likes of Assad by describing them as ‘agents of imperialism’ or some equivalent.”
- Katie Halper does a show Useful Idiots with Matt Taibbi, another Trump and Putin apologist.
- Jeffrey Sachs has an openly pro-Putin stance.
On Oct. 10, peaceful civilians were killed in downtown Kyiv. I was right there. There were missiles landing in the middle of the children’s playground: 14 civilians killed, 87 wounded. More bombs and drones exploded over my head.