During Reddit discussions regarding past articles, a Reddit user expressed concern that I left information out, specifically citing a press release from the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a quote in the Telegraph attributed to Dr. Olga Bogomoletz. What follows is that information with commentary.
The Press Release
Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press Release is included in its entirety below:
The recording of a telephone conversation between Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and High Representative Catherine Ashton that has been leaked online is authentic.
The conversation between Paet and Ashton took place on 26 February after the Estonian Foreign Minister’s return from his visit to Ukraine. His visit took place last week, soon after the end of street violence in Kyiv.
Foreign Minister Paet was giving an overview of what he had heard the previous day in Kyiv and expressed concern over the situation on the ground. We reject the claim that Paet was giving an assessment of the opposition’s involvement in the violence.
“It is extremely regrettable that phone calls are being intercepted,” said Paet. “The fact that this phone call has been leaked is not a coincidence,” added Paet.
Notice the press release does not deny any statements made by Mr. Paet. Clearly the call wasn’t an assessment. Ashton didn’t ask for an assessment, she asked for impressions and Mr. Paet complied. The recording itself makes this clear.
The leaked phone call itself was recorded in its entirety, from start to finish.
Statements Attributed to Dr. Bogomoletz
With regard to Dr. Bogomoletz’s statements, the Telegraph prints the following quotes attributed to her at 3:17 pm UK time (not sure if UK has more than one timezone):
15.17 Our correspondent, Damien McElroy, has spoken to the doctor at the centre of the claims that snipers that shot people in Kiev were hired by Maidan leaders:
Olga Bogomolets said she had not told Mr Paet that policemen and protesters had been killed in the same manner.
“Myself I saw only protesters. I do not know the type of wounds suffered by military people,” she told The Telegraph. “I have no access to those people.”
But she said she had asked for a full forensic criminal investigation into the deaths that occurred in the Maidan. “No one who just sees the wounds when treating the victims can make a determination about the type of weapons. I hope international experts and Ukrainian investigators will make a determination of what type of weapons, who was involved in the killings and how it was done. I have no data to prove anything.
“I was a doctor helping to save people on the square. There were 15 people killed on the first day by snipers. They were shot directly to the heart, brain and arteries. There were more than 40 the next day, 12 of them died in my arms.
“Our nation has to ask the question who were the killers, who asked them to come to Ukraine. We need good answers on the basis of expertise.”
Mr Paet’s assertion that an opposition figure was behind the Maidan massacre was not one she could share.
“I think you can only say something like this on the basis of fact,” she said. “Its not correct and its not good to do this. It should be based on fact.”
She said the new government in Kiev had assured her a criminal investigation had begun but that she had not direct contact with it so far.
“They told me they have begun a criminal process and if they say that I believe them. The police have not given me any information on it.”
I am concerned that the above statement was made only to the Telegraph, no other news outlet. I was unable to locate any other interview or article that can independently verify any of her denials. The article provides no audio or video of Mr. McElroys’ interview.
Further, after conducting an online search, I was unable to locate any evidence Telegraph journalist Damien Mcelroy was in Kiev on March 5, 2014 at 3:17 p.m., the time the Telegraph reports the interview occurred.
Am I stretching here?
Maybe… but consider the following:
In April 2013, The Daily Telegraph ran an article titled, “Racism, Romanians and chemical castration: what UKIP candidates really believe.” Telegraph reporters attributed remarks about Mick Philpott to Richard Wilkins.
The original article was removed and the updated version is here.
However, Mr. Wilkins never made the comments attributed to him in the article. Once they were challenged, the Telegraph updated the article to claim it was fooled by someone pretending to be Wilkins.
Update: when this article was first posted it made reference to remarks that Ukip candidate Richard Wilkins was said to have made about Mick Philpott, who killed six of his children in a house fire. We were subsequently informed that these remarks were not made by by Mr Wilkins but by someone pretending to be him during a telephone call. We have therefore removed the remarks and apologise for Mr Wilkins for any distress caused by their publication.
This is not the first incident where the Telegraph’s credibility was questioned. In 2013, Model Naomi Campell won a libel lawsuit against the Telegraph for falsely claiming she was organizing an elephant polo match in India. The libelous article, originally published in late 2012 and according to the Huffington Post, included criticisms from animal rights activists.
If Telegraph’s interview is found to be fake, factually inaccurate, or fraudulent, it would not be the first time recently a misinformation/disinformation campaign was waged to sway people’s views on a foreign country’s political conflict.
In the last few months, multiple images have been appearing all over the world depicting government violence against protesters in Venezuela. These images are being touted as evidence to support claims the current Venezuelan government is victimizing its populace for disagreement.
Turns out they are fake.
I encourage anyone who can independently and/or credibly verify Dr. Bogomolets’ statements with either audio or video footage — though based on the information above, video would be preferred — to post the information in the comments.
After the initial reporting on the sniper killings, they are now being investigated.
However, given the Ukraine coup government failed to follow the February 20 agreement to reduce violence, there appear to be no investigators outside the coup government. This is a concern because the coup government publicly blamed Yanukovich and issued a warrant for his arrest. However, we now know there were genuine questions regarding the credibility of the evidence against him. Once evidence was presented clearing Yanukovich, coup government investigators stopped blaming him. They now blame Russia.
Russia is calling for an international investigation, rather than one conducted by the coup government alone. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated:
“The latest information about the so-called snipers case can no longer be covered up.”
“We have proposed that the OSCE takes up an objective investigation of this and we will ensure there is justice.”
“There have been too many lies, and this lie has been used too long to push European public opinion in the wrong direction, contrary to the objective facts.”
Whether the investigation was covered up with lies or incompetence on the part of coup government investigators remains to be seen. However, based on the amount of conflicting information being reported as the only real facts, I believe a “trust, but verify” stance is the only credible way to move forward.
Thank you Reddit for challenging me to take a closer look at this story.
Photo Credit: CNS photo/Gleb Garanich, Reuters