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Western news on Ukraine ‘get filtered through the opposition’s lens’

Published time: January 23, 2014 18:14
A pro-European integration protester throws stones towards riot police in Kiev January 23, 2014.(Reuters / Vasily Fedosenko)

The international community doesn’t have an objective insight into the situation in Ukraine, as most news come from media that are effectively ‘opposition activist organs,’ Graham Philips, a Ukraine-based journalist, told RT.

RT: The US has already introduced sanctions against Ukraine's leadership - you've been covering this ongoing turmoil - why is the West ignoring the level of violence by the opposition?

GP: In terms of that you have to look at who’s reporting the actual actions taking place in Kiev. It’s coming filtered through the prism of organizations such as Radio Svoboda, Ukrainskaya Pravda and the Kiev Post. Their objectivity is completely compromised by the fact they’re effectively opposition activists organs. And they are functioning in that way — and they are reporting the news to that ends, and so we get the news filtered through the opposition’s lens. And that’s how it is reported to the wide world.

RT: What do you think is the driving force of the unrest?

GP: The driving force is clearly fundamental far right extremist neo-Nazi politics. Everyone knew that when ‘Svoboda’ achieved around 10% of the votes in the October, 2012 election there were going to be repercussions, and it didn’t take long. And this has been in the offing for a long time. If you notice now, nobody is even talking about the Association agreement; nobody is even talking about Tymoshenko’s release from prison, which were supposedly the touch papers which lit this up. This was orchestrated from the beginning, and if you go to the occupied City Hall now you’ll see Svoboda’s flags, Svoboda’s banners flying, bedecked across the building. So make no mistake: this is an attempt by a party strongly linked with far right neo-Nazi politics to overthrow the Ukrainian government.

RT: From what we've been hearing from different opposition factions - it seems like nationalist groups are gaining momentum? Why does the international community ignore this? And how long can the activists be unnoticed?

GP: I was stunned, I was on the Grushevskogo on Sunday. And I saw guys lining up with missiles and ‘Molotov cocktails’, knives and weapons of every single manner attacking police in every way they could. And I’ve returned from that and I was on the internet checking the news, and it was reported immediately that the US government had introduced sanctions against the Ukrainian government; the Ukrainian police and government are being criticized. But to be there on the ground it is absurd to reconcile that with what you see. I have been at the City Hall just before the proceeding events – these guys were getting militarized, were getting mobilized, they were getting ready to go into war. They knew exactly, they were receiving briefings, they were receiving instructions on the basis of going into war. And they went to that end to effectively instigate a civil war in Ukraine. I think it would really be tendentious to say what we have at the moment is a degree of a civil war in Ukraine.

RT: One of the opposition frontmen Vitaly Klitchko has been calling for an outright offensive, but when we asked him on camera, he softened his stance saying he's doing his best to keep the unrest peaceful. Why the sudden change of heart?

GP: Vitaly Klitchko is a decent individual essentially. However, in this he is simply being mal-used by those who are more adroit and more adept, and exploiting the fact that he is perhaps not necessarily the most intelligent of characters. What we have got now is a real drive to overthrow the government by Batkivshchina led by Yatsenyuk and Svoboda. He knows that if Tymoshenko is released then his tenure as a caretaker leader of that party is over. In any case the election for a new president of Ukraine is only a year away, and you have two parties who have huge interests – Batkivshchina and Svoboda – who have effectively allied, pushed for that election now, and they believe that in that case they can position their men – Yatsenuk or Tyahnybok as a president of Ukraine. Klitchko doesn’t see, what’s going on. Effectively they are putting the bodies of the fundamentalists on the front line.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.