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The last few days have seen the arrival in occupied Donetsk of Russian journalists and war correspondents, known for spreading fake stories about the war in Donbas, Nagorno-Karabakh, Syria, and also for their participation in a number of other crimes. Moreover, it would be wrong, to put it mildly, to consider these men actual journalists or war reporters.
But, first things first, it’s worth starting off from January 2021, when a Russian delegation of top propaganda pundits arrived in occupied Donetsk. On the team were RT chief Margarita Simonyan, as well as Tigran Keosayan and Roman Babayan. Thy came to take part in the invaders’ propaganda forum entitled “Russian Donbas”. Addressing the event, Simonyan has called on Moscow to allow Donbas acceding to Russia.
It is important to understand that Donbas is a region that covers Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions, as well as part of Dnipropetrovsk region. In turn, the occupied territories, the unrecognized “LPR” and “DPR”, occupy less than 50% of Luhansk and Donetsk regions.
That is, in fact, Margarita Simonyan has called for the invasion to and occupation of new territories of Ukraine.
Then, in March, to the occupied part of Donbas came Russian journalist Daria Aslamova of the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper. Here it must be noted that Komsomolskaya Pravda is an outlet long controlled by Russia’s defense ministry, being one of the multiple media platforms operating in the interests of military intelligence.
Daria Aslamova is no just a journalist, for starters. She has been officially recognized a Russian spy in a number of countries. For example, she is banned from Ukraine and Turkey. The latter has established that she is engaged in espionage for the Russian military intelligence.
In 2017, Daria Aslamova made an attempt to travel to Moldova with a Croatian passport through Bucharest, with Chisinau being her final destination. However, she failed to enter since she could not clearly explain the purpose of her visit. Moreover, Aslamova was trying to speak Croatian during an interview with immigration officials, acting as if she had forgotten Russian.
Daria Aslamova is married to a Croatian journalist Robert Valdec, a Russian agent in Croatia and a provocative element of propaganda projects throughout Europe. It was he who provoked interreligious clashes in Paris, organizing and taking a direct part in the campaign to fill the Muslim quarters of the French capital with posters in support of Marine Le Pen’s National Front (funded by Russia), and also a frequent guest of Croatian TV talk shows where he regularly criticizes EU’s migration policy, etc..
And it was this couple who was engaged in efforts to destabilize Spain through the crisis in Catalonia, while in Sweden they supported protesters against “cruel” migrants, and in Germany — they praise the AfD “Alternative for Germany” party.
In 2020, she covered the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, making staged reports about the “shelling of settlements by Azerbaijani rocket artillery”, telling other heart-wrenching stories about Azerbaijani “Nazis”.
This March, in the immediate follow-up of the Donetsk visit of Moscow’s top propaganda trio, Aslamova came in to interview the puppet chief of “DPR”, Denis Pushilin. In the interview, Pushilin voiced a claim that Ukraine had allegedly been plotting an offensive to regain the occupied Donbas.
It was from this moment that the fake news campaign alleging Ukraine’s intentions to return the occupied territories through a military operation was kicked off across the widest spectrum of Russian propaganda media. The main distributors of this fake story were primarily the platforms controlled by and affiliated with the Russian defense ministry.
Within 24 hours, from April 10, another two “journalists”, whom should rather be referred to as war criminals than war reporters, arrived in occupied Donetsk: Dmitry Steshin and Semyon Pegov.
These two propaganda talking heads are known both for their outrageous fake reporting and for criminal actions while performing in war zones certain functions that in no way have any connection with the journalist’s job.
In the period from 2014 to 2015, Dmitry Steshin and another Russian “war correspondent” Alexander Kots were engaged in spinning disinformation about the Donbas war and also performing the role of artillery spotters. Over time, they gained notoriety for being harbingers of tragedy. In fact, pretty much any settlement Steshin and Kots stopped by in were soon targeted in artillery strikes, while the two immediately emerged at the site of the shelling to film devastation and dead bodies, spitting accusations against the Ukrainian Army. That’s despite the fact that almost in every occasion it was from the side of the occupied territories that the shells came in.
In 2014, Steshin and Kots personally partook in interrogating the captured officers of the SBU’s Alfa unit in Sloviansk — something that doesn’t come close to journalism.
Some time later, it was revealed that Kots is an active duty operative of the Russian GRU military intelligence service. In general, many Komsomolskaya Pravda reporters are undercover operatives of one or another security or intelligence agency.
As for Semyon Pegov, relatively recently, this disinformation spinner, together with Alexander Kots, was covering the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. Almost every report produced by this tandem required debunking as it contained false or manipulative information.
It’s important to understand that now it’s precisely this kind of blood-thirsty journalists and military correspondents who have come to Donbas from Russia. After all, it is evident they flock exactly where blood will be shed and escalation is expected. And it is they who become the primary sources of disinformation about deadly incidents that are nothing but staged provocation.
The only ones who have not yet surfaced in the occupied Donetsk are Kots and Kotenkov. By the way, the latter may well be used along the lines of some provocation with a religious pretext. For example, he may suddenly witness a “Ukrainian” artillery strike on an Orthodox temple… It was this kind of fake reports that Russian propagandists were disseminating in Nagorno-Karabakh, trying their best to add a religious factor to the conflict.
It is possible that soon, the entire pool of Russian blood-thirsty journalists will be deployed in Donbas and also, that a scenario implying a religious factor will be implemented in order to try to achieve public destabilization implosion through the a branch of the Russian Orthodox Church operating in Ukraine.
Whatever it may be, it is becoming more and more obvious each day that Russia is indeed plotting a large-scale provocation in Donbas with the aim of resuming massive hostilities and grabbing new territories from Ukraine.