Since the very start of the 2014 Maidan coup in Ukraine, pro-Western media workers and politicians have demonstrated a surprising level of hypocrisy, inhumanity and propaganda hysteria. The war propaganda and blatant lies have become something common for Ukraine’s internal policy and the Kiev government’s actions on the international level. However, this is intentionally ignored by Western diplomats and mainstream media outlets.
The conversation below happened between a spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, and a journalist of Ukraine’s UNIAN, Roman Tsymbalyuk, on September 12.
It provides an interesting look at actions of Ukrainian ‘journalists’ and the ideological situation inside Ukraine itself (source):
Maria Zakharova: Roman, go ahead please, you probably have a question about Ukraine. By the way, have you met with Kirill Vyshinsky?
Roman Tsymbalyuk: Not yet.
Maria Zakharova: Are you going to?
Roman Tsymbalyuk: I will if I can. I am open to communication with everyone.
Maria Zakharova: Will you be allowed to do an interview with Vyshinsky?
Roman Tsymbalyuk: I saw him on TV. He did not answer the main question – why he was awarded the medal For the Return of Crimea?
Maria Zakharova: Do you think this is the main question?
Roman Tsymbalyuk: For Ukraine, yes. If I ever get to interview him, I will choose the questions.
Maria Zakharova: How was the charge against Vyshinsky formulated, again?
Roman Tsymbalyuk: This is up to the law enforcement authorities. I would ask him about the medal.
Maria Zakharova: So, this is the most important question for you. All right, the questions you ask are your personal or professional business. I was asking about something else though, namely, about the actual possibility of such an interview. We have seen for several years how the Ukrainian media, in particular the outlet you represent, had a moratorium on talking with Russian representatives – journalists, or officials. It is a fact. You were simply not allowed to do this. Now that something happened that was really appreciated both in Kiev and in Moscow, can you now speak with Vyshinsky, who is in Moscow? He is your colleague, and he is available. Can you afford to do an interview with him? To ask all your questions?
Roman Tsymbalyuk: Of course I can. You say he is my “colleague,” but I do not have a medal For the Return of Crimea.
Maria Zakharova: We have not checked this. The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has not visited your home yet.
Roman Tsymbalyuk: It’s okay, they know my address. But I thought I was asking questions here? Now it seems like it’s you.
Maria Zakharova: It happens both ways here. You do not visit us too often, only on high-profile events.
Roman Tsymbalyuk: I will come more often.
Maria Zakharova: It is obvious that you are engaged in propaganda, 100 per cent. It seems to me you don’t even try to hide it.
Roman Tsymbalyuk: I am engaged in the propaganda of Ukraine. This is normal. But I am not engaged in information crime. There is a big difference.
Maria Zakharova: Do you think the Ukrainian media will lift the ban on communication with Russian representatives – government agencies, journalists, and others? You write about us, but you cannot afford to do a full-scale interview. Are you ready to talk, in particular, with Vyshinsky?
Roman Tsymbalyuk: I can answer for myself. You are a representative of the Russian state, and I am talking to you.
Maria Zakharova: But I was asking about something else. Can you, as a representative of UNIAN, finally do an interview with Kirill Vyshinsky? He will tell you about the medal and answer all other questions.
Roman Tsymbalyuk: We can.
Maria Zakharova: That is, UNIAN can run this interview?
Roman Tsymbalyuk: Any correspondent is perfectly aware that, regardless of the country they represent, they do not make all decisions. If I were the chief editor, I would say yes, for sure. In the same way ordinary employees of your department cannot answer all the questions that you are answering.
I will immediately forward your question to our editor-in-chief. If he wants to do the interview, and if Vyshinsky agrees, perhaps we will do it. I think it is obvious, and there is nothing to discuss.
Maria Zakharova: That’s just the point: you have nothing to discuss. You have been blocked from posting interviews with Russian representatives. You write about Russia, are a staff correspondent in Russia, but you cannot interview anyone. You do not give your audience first-person talk. This is a classic manifestation of propaganda when first-person content is not available to the audience. All they have is your presentation. Maybe now is the right moment to alter the media’s information policy, get away from propaganda and begin engaging in normal journalism. The accusations brought against Vyshinsky were not about his medal.
Roman Tsymbalyuk: Did he deserve it?
Maria Zakharova: Are you asking me? Go ask Vyshinsky. If you are interested in finding things out about Vyshinsky – about his medals, his writing, his life in Ukraine and in Russia – just ask him. This is some Jesuit logic to ask me about Vyshinsky, and maybe someone else about me. This is what you have been doing.
Roman Tsymbalyuk: Kirill Vyshinsky was not the only passenger on that aircraft. There were 34 others, including Russian citizens, who had committed homicide and been taken prisoner armed with weapons in their hands. This is probably the reason why the West is not overjoyed or enthusiastic about this fact. These people are terrorists convicted by relevant court rulings.
Maria Zakharova: I would like to put you right about this. Those who returned to Ukraine were convicted precisely on the same charges you are talking about. More than that, I heard their statements. They were not concealing the kind of activities they were engaged in and confirmed what the Ukrainian media, among others, were reluctant both to report and hear.
Roman Tsymbalyuk: Perhaps this was because these Ukrainian citizens had been taken prisoner on Ukrainian territory rather than vice versa.
Maria Zakharova: Ask me a real question.
Roman Tsymbalyuk: Oleg Sentsov was taken prisoner after the Ukrainian Crimea was occupied. You know it well. No one, not even your immediate neighbours, recognise the fact of occupation of Ukrainian territory.
Maria Zakharova: A referendum was held in Crimea. You know this. You can also travel there, and the residents will tell you everything.
Roman Tsymbalyuk: I have a question. I am employed here primarily as a correspondent, not propagandist, as you think.
Maria Zakharova: You yourself said that you were “propagandising Ukraine.” These are your very own words.
Roman Tsymbalyuk: Everyone should know that Ukraine was, is, and will be. This is very important.
Maria Zakharova: Would that be forgotten without you making a reminder?
Roman Tsymbalyuk: I think some people in this country are calling this fact into question.
Maria Zakharova: Who?
Roman Tsymbalyuk: Shall I give you a long list?
Maria Zakharova: Please don’t. What do I need a long list for? You can give me just a few names. Who specifically? Perhaps you and your UNIAN agency have some special informed sources, who tell you that the fact of Ukraine’s existence is called into question. Who are these people?
Roman Tsymbalyuk: In this country, I think, you should always refer to bigwigs. President of Russia Vladimir Putin said that if something went wrong he would strip my country of its statehood.
Maria Zakharova: When was it?
Roman Tsymbalyuk: He was on air talking to Russian citizens.
Maria Zakharova: Please give me the exact quote. I think, the only thing we – President of Russia Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and other officials – keep saying is that we want to build relations with the sovereign state of Ukraine. The Minsk Package of Measures, the Minsk Agreements refer to nothing but a sovereign Ukraine. Isn’t that so?
Roman Tsymbalyuk: This question was asked by a Russian militant, who is hiding here under the guise of a writer from the occupied part of the Donetsk Region, Zakhar Prilepin, when he was not yet recalled to Moscow.
Maria Zakharova: Ask Zakhar Prilepin for an interview.
Roman Tsymbalyuk: You are not the editor-in-chief of UNIAN agency and you cannot influence our editorial policy. Neither can we make you say certain things from this rostrum.
Maria Zakharova: Quite right. I am just saying that, to my mind, it would be only fair in relation to your own readers, if you gave a chance to people you write so much about, whom you quote so extensively, to speak their mind and answer your questions. This is the only thing that I would like not so much to ask as to suggest that you do. You have been writing for years about these people without giving them an opportunity to answer your questions or publishing their direct speech. This is utterly unfair and contrary to all norms of journalism. And this is evidence that you are peddling propaganda.
Roman Tsimbalyuk: An exchange of detainees was held on September 7, and our sailors have returned to Ukraine. When and under what conditions will Russia return the ships it has seized in international waters in the Black Sea?
Maria Zakharova: We have already discussed these conditions, and you know them all too well. If there are any new conditions, about which I know nothing, I promise to inquire about them. We talked about these conditions countless times. We sent relevant notes to the Ukrainian side. Do you really want me to repeat them yet again?
Roman Tsimbalyuk: Yes, I do, because the situation has changed.
Maria Zakharova: I will send you a link to the documents we have published. I will do this once again.
Roman Tsimbalyuk: What will be the technical procedure for the return of the ships? Can you explain it?
Maria Zakharova: We have described it before. We have done this officially by sending an official note to the Ukrainian side. I understand that it suits you to pretend that you know nothing about this, but this is common knowledge.
Roman Tsimbalyuk: You mean the note of June 25 of this year?
Maria Zakharova: Yes. It describes the technical procedure of the exchange, as you said.
Roman Tsimbalyuk: It also says a great deal about the sailors, but ultimately they have been included in the exchange, not released in accordance with the scheme described in the notes.
Maria Zakharova: Do you mean that Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights Lyudmila Denisova did not offer her guarantee to secure the sailors’ release?
Roman Tsimbalyuk: Yes, she did.
Maria Zakharova: This is exactly what we wrote in the note you have mentioned. Why then do you turn everything upside down, omitting a vital part of this story? This is not propaganda but a fake.
Roman Tsimbalyuk: Well, it is a fact that Ukraine and Russia have exchanged detainees.
Maria Zakharova: Has Denisova offered a guarantee or not?
Roman Tsimbalyuk: What about the ships?
Maria Zakharova: You have asked about the technical procedure. It has been described in detail and forwarded to the Ukrainian side. You told me that the sailors were turned over to Ukraine regardless of the plan. I have replied that they have been turned over under Denisova’s guarantees. Is this so? Or am I saying something that is not true?
Roman Tsimbalyuk: But [the exchange] was coordinated by the two presidents.
Maria Zakharova: Was there a guarantee or not? The note we sent to the Ukrainian side was addressed to an executive authority. Do you understand that our foreign policy is determined by the President and implemented by the Foreign Ministry of Russia? Let us get this quite straight, so that you do not write a lot of nonsense again. So, once again, did Denisova offer a guarantee?
Roman Tsimbalyuk: Yes, she did.
Maria Zakharova: There you are.
Roman Tsimbalyuk: Has the Ukrainian state taken any legal steps within the framework of the Russia-proposed mechanism to return the three Ukrainian naval ships that were seized in international waters in the Black Sea? If so, what are these steps and how can the ships be returned to Ukraine?
Maria Zakharova: Regarding Ukrainian steps, you should request information from the Ukrainian side. You have asked me about Russia’s steps and proposals. I have already told you about them. As for Ukraine’s attitude to this and whether any steps have been or will be taken, you can inquire about this at the UkrAinian Embassy in Russia.
Roman Tsimbalyuk: UkraInian.
Maria Zakharova: Have you approved Russian as an official language?
Roman Tsimbalyuk: You should say UkraIna, not UkrAina in Russian.
Maria Zakharova: You will tell Russians how to speak Russian when it is approved as an official language and when the educational establishments where Russian is taught open in Ukraine. Until then, keep working to ensure that those in Ukraine who speak Russian and think in Russian have an opportunity to do so in accordance with Ukraine’s obligations.
Roman Tsimbalyuk: When will the ships seized in international waters in the Black Sea be returned to Ukraine?
Maria Zakharova: I believe, no, I know, because there is no place for guessing or supposition here, that Russia has sent an official offer regarding this to Kiev. It was sent quite some time ago. And now the ball is in Kiev’s court. The required institutions have been established and the heads of agencies appointed [in Ukraine]. We believe that if this issue is on the agenda, then the Ukrainian side will be able to analyse our proposals and formulate an official response to them. It is not a matter of guessing, but rather of cooperation. The proposals have been made. If the Ukrainian side has different views on this subject, it can tell us about them.
While we are on this subject: My colleagues have been quick to find that quotation, which Roman provided as proof, but it was a misquote. I would like to provide the quotation as it was said, not in the form published by UNIAN. Here it is:
“Zakhar Prilepin: It seems to us here that the Ukrainian army will take advantage of the World Cup to launch an offensive. Can you comment on this situation?
Vladimir Putin: I hope it will not reach the point of such provocations. And if this happens, I think it will have very serious consequences for Ukrainian statehood as a whole. Once again, to emphasise, I expect that nothing like this will happen. It is impossible to intimidate people who live in these areas in Donbass, in the Lugansk People’s Republic, in the Donetsk People’s Republic. We see what is happening there, and see how people are enduring it all. We provide assistance to both unrecognised republics and will continue to do so. But what is happening with these territories in general is certainly sad.”
Where is what you claim he said? How much longer will this go on? How many more fakes will you produce? You have given us yet another example of what you have been engaged in for several years, that is, disinformation. You take a quotation, pick the necessary words from it and place them in the sequence you need to bend public opinion.
Roman Tsimbalyuk: Did he mention any threat to Ukrainian statehood?
Maria Zakharova: Yes, but only in the context of offensive operations.
Roman Tsimbalyuk: And who is conducting offensive operations?
Maria Zakharova: Active offensive operations. The Minsk Package of Measures is focused on the disengagement of equipment and forces. According to the Minsk agreements, it is hostilities that are delivering the blow, including to the territorial integrity and statehood of Ukraine. This is the focal point of that package.
Roman Tsimbalyuk: And now you are engaging in propaganda, Russian propaganda.
Maria Zakharova: First of all, I am not a journalist. Second, I have provided a quotation that you, in a completely unacceptable manner (that is, unacceptable for you as a journalist) used to try to prove your point. But you completely distorted it. I have provided the quotation correctly, as it was said. There is nothing in it about Russia not recognising the statehood or sovereignty of Ukraine. Not a word. In response to a question, it says that an offensive “will have very serious consequences for Ukrainian statehood as a whole.” The message is clear. If you go to war against the people who want peace and peaceful integration and who also want to protect their rights, this action will have its consequences. This is what the Minsk Package is all about. Why are you doing this?
Roman Tsimbalyuk: Do you pray for the heroes of Novorossia in the context of Ukrainian statehood? Russia’s top military and political leaders do.
Maria Zakharova: I have advice for you. I am sorry, but I would like to make an exception in this case. I will answer this question not as the official spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry, for the Church is separated from the State in Russia, and your question concerns a religious matter. Have you ever attended a service in a Russian Orthodox church? Probably not. I mean here in Moscow or elsewhere in Russia? I suggest that you do, for you will be surprised to learn that the clergy pray for peace in Ukraine at every service in Russia (sorry for this lyrical digression, but I know this for sure because I regularly go to church).
Roman Tsimbalyuk: For peace in Ukraine or in Novorossia?
Maria Zakharova: In Ukraine. Now you know.