Interviewed by Vadim Manukyan, Russian Blogger & Public Figure: From Moscow to Donbass
InGaza- The other day, I was interviewed by Vadim Manukyan on the Moscow protests but also on issues related to Syria, Gaza, Venezuela and western corporate media propaganda.
*Vadim Manukyan is a blogger, public figure, and an “expert of the Council for the Development of the Information Society and Media at the State Duma”, as described on his Facebook profile.
“Canadian journalist and blogger Eva Bartlett attended an opposition rally on Sakharov Avenue in Moscow on August 10 and called the protesters “the most apathetic she had seen” The journalist shared her thoughts on Facebook.
[Eva note: My emphasis on APATHETIC was to highlight the sense that many of the protesters were not there for reasons to do with “democracy”, etc, but were, lets say, persuaded by other interests… ]
For this “liberty”, according to tradition, some of the Russian social network users harassed her, Eva was accused of “propaganda” and “work for the Russian media”.
In order to clarify the position of Eva Bartlett on all pressing issues, Vadim Manukyan spoke with her specifically for the Federal News Agency.
*Photo by Eva Bartlett. Protesters in Moscow August 10, 2019.
VM: – Is this your first time in Russia?
EB: -I came to Russia both as a tourist and a journalist. I plan to travel around to see some other Russian cities. But also, since Western media has made considerable hype about the protests in Moscow, I decided to observe for myself whether or not there was “police brutality”. I was also curious about the nature of the protests themselves.
[I’m also planning on going to Donbass for 2 to 3 weeks.]
In Donbass, I plan to interview civilians about what they’ve experienced under Ukrainian shelling, and also to interview journalists who have been covering this.
I also have an interview I’ll conduct in Moscow, but prefer to wait until I’ve done so before speaking about it.
VM: – You’ve said that the protesters in Moscow turned out to be the most apathetic of those whom you have seen, and that they got more energetic only when the singers and the bands began performing. Maybe it’s because most people did come not for the action, but just to see their favourite performers?
EB: – That’s the impression I got. My point about apathy was this: if one truly believes in the cause he/she is advocating for, that passion shows during protests. What I observed was people who periodically chanted for a brief period, and then just stood there. In all the protests I’ve participated in, I’ve never seen such lackluster.
It really seemed like many of those who came out on Saturday–many of whom were youths–might have had other reasons for attending. One obvious one was the presence of the bands/singers. I’ve also heard allegations that protesters are paid to attend–but I can’t personally verify those allegations.
VM: -You noted that the protesters on Sakharov avenue seemed to be waiting for the team from the organizers to shout certain slogans. Did you have any feeling that the organizers themselves also received instructions from the West? Don’t you think that we are talking about a foreign intervention into the Russian politics, as it was in Ukraine, Egypt, Syria, Venezuela and other countries where there were staged protests?
EB: – I think that is entirely possible. I don’t discount that people in Russia, or Venezuela, or Syria, have genuine political grievances and want certain changes, of course they do. But if we look at the case of Syria, for example, it is now known that from the very beginning there were armed protesters who attacked security forces, and committed massacres against security forces and civilians. This was at a time when most Western and Gulf media maintained the lie that the protests were peaceful [Please see my 2015 article on this.]
I was in Venezuela for several weeks in March 2019. There were massive protests (video) in support of the government . Those protests were filled with people who were very politically-aware, informed and could articulate what they were defending. I did try to attend opposition marches, but they never materialized. [Related: US is manufacturing a crisis in Venezuela so that there is chaos and ‘needed’ intervention]
Back to your question: given the amount of media hype around these considerably small protests in Moscow, and given the long-held Western hostility against Russia in general, as well as the US embassy in Moscow essentially advertising last Saturday’s protest, it is not at all far-fetched to suspect that there is foreign intervention going on here.
VM: – Every independent journalist who dares to contradict Western propaganda about Russia is instantly called an employee of RT/Ruptly. And it does not matter whether you left a comment or you wrote the author’s column, or sent a stream. You were affected, too. Do you feel that Western media is jealous to the success of this TV company? Western viewers increasingly prefer RT and they are called as propagandists by real propagandists from BBC, CNN, Radio Liberty and other media.
Now highly oppositional Maria Baronova and moderately oppositional Ekaterina Vinokurova joined the RT team. Also opposition journalist Anton Krasovsky cooperates actively with this media. The opposition labeled them immediately as sold ones to propagandists, but in fact the involvement of such professionals to the work for the state media is the sign of real democracy and the success of the RT management presented by Margarita Simonyan. How do you feel about the success of RT around the world and the attempts of the Western governments to block their broadcasting?
EB: -Western leadership are threatened by RT, otherwise they would not ban RT’s participation in conferences and meetings, as they did recently in the so-called “media freedom” conference in the UK. Both RT and Sputnik weren’t permitted to participate. The irony is that actual propagandists and spreaders of disinformation (CNN, Sky News, Channel 4, CBC, BBC, CNN, etc) were not only able to attend but highlighted. [See my: London’s ‘media freedom’ conference smacks of irony: Critics barred, no mention of jailed Assange]
Earlier this year, when the Lima group met in Canada, again Russian media and Telesur weren’t able to attend.
As for myself, yes, when I am smeared by Western media and those who disagree with my observations, one of the first things they will say is that I’m “employed” by RT. In fact, I am a freelancer, and contribute to a number of platforms, only one of which is RT–and I maintain that I’m grateful that I have this platform, where I am not censored. I also maintain that whatever I publish on RT I would have otherwise published on my blog. It isn’t that RT dictates what I write or influences me in any way, its merely that RT offers a platform for my views the be read. Further, if you look at the list of contributors to RTs op-ed section, its a long list, and likewise they are not “employed” or “owned” by RT. [See my earlier: Those Who Transmit Syrian Voices Are Russian Propagandists?]
VM: -Canada has got a very large Ukrainian Diaspora. One of the first visits abroad of the new President of Ukraine was to Canada. Do you follow what is happening in Ukraine? I know that you were in correspondence with the journalist Kirill Vyshinsky and interviewed his lawyer. Do you think he is a hostage of the Ukrainian authorities? How do you feel about the fact that radicals in Ukraine are shelling TV channels, scaring journalists. Why does the West support this regime in Ukraine and does not notice all these horrors?
EB: -Unfortunately, because Canada’s Foreign Minister, Chrystia Freeland’s grandfather has a Nazi collaborator background, I believe that is one major factor that influences her decisions. I haven’t been able to follow Ukraine as closely as Syria, given that I’ve spent much of the past six years going to or writing on Syria. However, I’m aware of the basics, and that FM Freeland is whitewashing the crimes of neo-Nazis in Ukraine.
As for Kirill Vyshinsky, I’ve been trying to raise awareness of his unjust imprisonment. In doing so, I did interview Kirill by emailand earlier this year went to Kiev to interview Andriy Domansky, his defense lawyer. They both articulated that Kirill is being held as a political card to be played by Ukrainian authorities, that he is not guilty of the allegations of treason. And Mr. Vyshinsky made the good point that if he was such a danger to Ukraine, why did they wait 4 years to act on the articles he published–none of which were written by himself, all of which carried a standard disclaimer?
[Kirill: “Nothing happened before May 2018, this is what amazes me! Accusations
against me in the case investigated by the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) are connected with posts on the website that I run dating back to the spring of 2014.
The posts were made in the spring of 2014. According to the SBU, they represented a threat to the national security of Ukraine, but they remembered them only in 2018! And this is despite the fact that the SBU and Ukraine’s Ministry of Press and Information (another supervisory authority) have been regularly publishing lists of websites that were a “threat to national information security,” while my website was never listed!! And then, in May 2018, I was arrested. “]
On the note of tv stations being shelled, I noticed that occurred soon after the media freedom conference.
During that conference, many countries pledged to defend and protect journalists. So I asked the rhetorical question: “Any reaction from so-called ‘Global Media Freedom’ conference co-hosts Freeland & Hunt, or those who pledged to ‘shine a light on violations & abuses of media freedom, bringing them to the attention of global public and working towards accountability’”.
VM: – Why does not Western media notice the shelling of Donbass by the Ukrainian armed forces? Why is Russian humanitarian aid to those regions and peaceful people living there drawn by the West as the assistance to armed rebels?
EB: – Western corporate media cannot report honestly on the shelling of civilians y the Ukrainian forces, just as they cannot report honestly on the murder of Syrian civilians by terrorists they call “rebels”. It is a rare case when a corporate journalist is allowed to report honestly on such things. There is an editorial line they must follow, and that line coincides with the ambitions of the US and allies. So Russia must be constantly vilified, and the crimes of the West’s proxies on the ground must be whitewashed [Related: How the Mainstream Media Whitewashed Al-Qaeda and the White Helmets in Syria].
VM: – The topic of Crimea in Western media is always shown as something bad. Why so? Why does no one want to take into account the opinions of people living in Crimea?If not for the British journalist Graham Phillips, who interviews these people and shows the truth to the whole world, no one in the West would know the truth about Crimea. Does not the Western propaganda understand that the truth always comes out, especially when everyone has YouTube and the opportunity to read independent journalists?
EB: – This again falls back to the West’s need to vilify everything to do with Russia. All logic is put aside. Just as the media ignore the will of people in Crimea, they also ignore the will of the millions of Syrians living in government secured areas, most of whom do not support the fake ‘revolution’. [Related: Western media ignoring reality on the ground in Syria]
If Western media gave a platforms to these voices, it would be apparent that its America, Canada, the UK, France, etc who have been supporting terrorism, who have been outright lying about events pertaining to Russia and Syria (and Venezuela, Iran…). By the way, I plan to go to Crimea and do my best to share what people living there have to say about their lives.
VM: -Russia’s help in Syria and its huge contribution to the victory over international terrorists in the Western media is being always diminished. Peaceful people are grateful to Russia for the help, they respect Assad and his wife. Russia sends constant humanitarian assistance to this country. Natalia Poklonskaya, the deputy from Crimea, comes to Syria and takes the children for the rest and recovery in the Crimea. But this doe not seem to be interesting for the Western media. Is it because Russia should be always bad in the eyes of the Western propaganda?
EB: -Short answer: yes.
However, I do try to enlighten readers about these facts. In fact, at the start of this year, I decided we independent journalists need to be more bold in showing the truth about, for example, how Syrians feel about their president [Related: 2019 is the year of proudly thanking President Assad for his steadfastness when nearly the entire world was against Syria].
Or for example the sacrifices of the Syrian Arab Army and allies.
I have tried to get interviews with the Russian Centre for Reconciliation in Syria, in order to highlight statistics on reconstruction, reconciliation, returned refugees… However, until now, I haven’t been granted an interview.
I was however able to interview the head of the political division of the Syrian Arab Army [A Syrian Leader Tells His Country’s Story: An Interview with SAA General Hassan Hassan].
I would like to note, also, the hypocrisy of some Western journalists: If for example they had the opportunity to meet and interview former President Obama, or Hillary Clinton, I’m sure they would be applauded. But in reality, those are just two of the West’s war criminals, with the blood of countless civilians on their hands.
VM: -In the situation with Venezuela, Western governments got to the direct intervention in the internal affairs of the country and declared a guy from the street as the Venezuelan President. In the end, this guy never got any power. Maduro is still the President of the country. Do Western leaders feel fooled about it?
EB: -Western leaders know that Maduro was freely and fairly elected, just as President Assad was [Related: Syrians Flock to Vote in Lebanon]. Unfortunately, Western leaders don’t care much for the truth.
When I was in Venezuela, I spoke with average citizens, including in the poorest areas. They didn’t support Guaido, and they could articulate very clearly why they support Maduro. [Related video: Venezuelan woman: “We didn’t vote for you, Guaido. Trump, stop f*cking us over.”] [Related video: “We’re not starving. This is a fight against a people that are trying to be free.”]
*[Related: My interview on Telesur: Independent Journalist Eva Bartlett on Venezuela]
VM: – Please, describe briefly what is really happening in Gaza now. How do people live there, is there any Western intervention?
EB: – Sure. I lived in Gaza for a cumulative 3 years, from November 2008 to June 2010, and then mid 2011 off and on until March 2013. I was only able to enter by sea, sailing from Cyprus, and by the Egyptian border crossing, not via Israel (I was deported from occupied Palestine by Israeli authorities in 2007).
Israel has manufactured a crisis in Gaza that does not need to exist. Israel has cut off Palestinians’ ability to be self-sufficient, to work, to export. Israeli soldiers on a daily basis target with live ammunition (or shelling) Palestinian farmers, people living or working in the border regions, and fishers. I used to accompany farmers on their land, and when the Israeli soldiers started firing with live ammunition I and other volunteers would document, often with bullets flying past our bodies/heads. All of this is summarized, with many links to individual accounts, in an article I wrote some years ago: Observations from Occupied Palestine: Gaza.
*Screenshot of photos (all mine, except the one of me) of farmers and protesters in the eastern border region, including many targeted by Israeli snipers.
Israel destroyed the power station in 2006 and hasn’t allowed Palestinians to import the material to properly rebuild. When I lived in Gaza, power was off for on average 18-20 hours a day, for years.
*Photo by Eva Bartlett, November 2008.
This affects all aspects of life.
Palestinians have to pump sewage into the sea because they can’t adequately contain and treat it.
Fishers limited to less than 6 km off the coast end up fishing in water polluted by sewage.
Israel has created a multi-layered hell in Gaza, from which Palestinians cannot escape. And on top of this, every so often Israel wages a war on Gaza. I was there during the 2008/9 war, riding in ambulances in the most hard-hit areas, documenting the war crimes and taking testimonies. These include point-blank assassinations of children and using White Phosphorous on civilians. [For links related to these points, see: Interview on Last American Vagabond: Rukban Camp (Syria) & Gaza]
VM: -How can we overcome this atmosphere of mistrust between Russia and the West? Russian people feel that the West always tries to interfere in our internal affairs. Maybe it’s time for the Western governments to deal with their own problems and not to meddle in the affairs of Russia?
EB: -I wish that Western leaders would listen to such wise advice–and people in the West should wish that too. How much money is wasted on wars that could be spent on the growing population of poor and desperately poor in the West.
VM: -Do you think that independent journalists around the world will be able to bring the truth to the people in order to reconcile all of us?
EB: – I think there is a growing mistrust of establishment media, after all of the regime-change wars the West has made, the media has had a bloody role in these wars and more people are becoming aware of this. However, the flip side is that censorship is becoming endemic on all social media platforms, specifically to silence independent and honest voices.