In Background, Media critique, Roger Annis, Russia, Ukraine

The following letter was sent to the weekday, national newsmagazine program of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, The Current on Aug. 29, 2014

Hello CBC/The Current,

I thought your story today on Ukraine was another exercise in providing a platform to propagandists instead of seriously exploring a complex story. None of your three guests breathed a word of the most important sets of information that listeners require to reach a balanced view of the war being waged in eastern Ukraine. These are:

1. The Ukraine government has been waging a bloody, ruthless war against the people of the east of the country using methods that amount to war crimes, namely, the use of heavy, indiscriminate shelling against civilians. Thousands have been killed and close to one million people have been made refugees.

2. Kyiv’s military operations in the east draw heavily on the militias of the fascist and extreme-right parties, and its revived National Guard institution is heavily composed of volunteers from the extreme right parties.

3. The conflict in the east began in March as an effort to obtain forms of political autonomy not dissimilar to the constitutional makeup of Canada and the U.S. in which provinces and states exercise considerable powers. The war is an invasion by Kyiv’s army and militias against a population that rejects the central government’s extreme austerity economic program and rejects the presence of fascists and extreme rightists in some ministries and in the governing coalition. It is Kyiv’s utter rejection of autonomy demands and its use of force and violence to solve a political standoff that is the origin of the war.

4. The accusations of intervention by Russia into eastern Ukraine are, in reality, complaints that Russia is not acting forcefully to help Kyiv and NATO suppress the autonomy movement. Public opinion in Russia is entirely in sympathy with the east and the Russian government’s actions cannot reasonably be expected to flaunt that sympathy. The government cannot prevent a flow of volunteer fighters and weapons into eastern Ukraine even if it wanted.

I thought your host asked some fair questions today. But your guests in the second segment, one a purported journalist and the other a professor of political science in Waterloo, acted as little more than cheerleaders for war. That’s not their fault—they are what they are. No, it is your programmers’ and their choice of guests that bear the responsibility for airing such a misleading presentation of events and brashly pro-war message. Your listeners might have benefitted from hearing, instead, straight from the horse’s mouth, via a NATO general or a loudmouth from Stephen Harper’s cabinet.

This broadcast was unfortunately similar to your previous story on Ukraine, one month ago on July 29. I wrote an article at the time about that broadcast, titling it, ‘Canada’s public broadcaster, CBC, is ‘beyond propaganda’ on Ukraine war’. Here is an excerpt:

Everything that is true and would help people understand the complex reality of Ukraine is being airbrushed out of the story by CBC and much of the rest of mainstream media. Gone is the seizure of power by a neo-conservative governing regime last February. Gone are the fascists and extreme right parties and militias with which that regime quickly chose to ally itself.

Gone is the sharp shift in economic policy which the new regime announced from the get-go and is implementing: a harsh turn to association with austerity Europe that will leave much of the country’s existing industries and agriculture crippled or shattered. Gone are the political protests in eastern Ukraine in March and April whereby people tried to stop the rush of the sharp turn to Europe and austerity and win some political dialogue and political reforms that could ease the country’s growing, east-west divide.

Most importantly, gone is the violence of Kyiv and its rightist militias against the political protests in the east.

Sadly, the airbrushing continues on the airwaves of CBC. As of yesterday, we have another, umpteenth claim by Kyiv of a Russian “invasion” of its territory. This claim is more dangerous than before because it is accompanied by stepped-up appeals by Kyiv and its supporters for a real, not fictional, invasion of Ukraine—by NATO. Let us hope that progressive people in the world are able to stop that invasion and compel Kyiv and NATO to cease their war in eastern Ukraine.

It’s too bad you can’t see fit to provide the kind of informed coverage that appeared today on Democracy Now! in the form of an interview with Guardian correspondent Jonathan Steele. Shame on you.

You may be interested in knowing that the fascist allies of the Kyiv government have been busily raising funds in Canada for war in Ukraine. As reported on CBC and Radio Canada Television, their efforts on August 23 in Toronto were facilitated by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress at the latter’s Ukraine Independence Day commemoration. Among the political dignitaries joining in hailing the war in Ukraine that day were federal Minister of Citizenship Chris Alexander, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and the leading candidates for mayor of Toronto, including the city’s mayor. Whatever happened to “Never again”?


Roger Annis


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