Another step-by-step case with the result in the form of a destroyed propaganda bloc of Russia and one accused of propaganda, a professor at the University of Edinburgh.
Molfar specialists have conducted an operational investigation for one of the world's most important resources – Thetimes.co.uk, digital version of the newspaper The Times. We tell step by step how everything happened and what results were achieved.
The task is to debunk Max Blumenthal's fake article
Max Blumenthal is an American journalist, author and main editor of an Internet resource The Gray Zone.
Recently, on March 18, 2022, he published propaganda article named «Was bombing of Mariupol theater staged by Ukrainian Azov extremists to trigger NATO intervention?».
In this article, the author provided arguments for Russian propaganda justifying the genocide on charges of shelling the Ukrainian military, including the Azov Regiment.
It should be noted that the Gray Zone website has previously published articles denying the Uighur genocide and articles in support of Kremlin policies.
Previous material by Max Blumenthal:
1. Russian UN ambassador responds to US ‘war propaganda’ in interview w/Grayzone – February 15, 2022
2. Why Rep. Thomas Massie stood against “stand with Ukraine” resolution – March 10, 2022
3. Congress screws American workers to escalate war on Russia – March 10, 2022
4. Former top Pentagon advisor Col. Doug Macgregor on Russia-Ukraine war – March 18, 2022
In all the materials you can follow the pro-Russian attitude of the author – a hostile position towards Ukraine and the United States – and his support for the official propaganda position of the Russian government.
Debunking Russian propaganda from Max Blumenthal
Molfar specialists were tasked with conducting fact-checking the published article. That's how we did it.
Arguments of Max Blumenthal and the Russian media: «The fighters of the Azov Battalion themselves blew up the building, where their headquarters was located».
According to the Russian Mass Media, the theater was the headquarters of the Azov Battalion
1. However, based on a video uploaded March 11, the theater at that time really did shelter civilian residents of Mariupol, which is also confirmed by the words of local residents: 1 link, 2 link, 3 link.
2. Russian media also claimed that Azov Battalion fighters planted explosives on and under the roof for the purpose of detonating it as a provocation. For example, one could consider photos of destruction of booby-trapped buildings, where, during their subsequent explosion, one can see that the buildings are collapsing from below, “sitting down” and “folding down”. In the photo of the drama theater, only part of the building was destroyed, which is typical for a shell hit from the air: 1 link, 2 link.
3. Information about the plans to blow up the building was allegedly reported to the Russian side by a fugitive fighter of the Azov battalion, including the number of civilians in the theater building. However, after the announcement that the bomb shelter had withstood the explosion, the Russian side suddenly announced that the Azov militants had allowed civilians to leave the building before the explosion of the Drama Theater and they were able to evacuate. These inconsistencies cast doubt on the veracity of the information about the fugitive fighter and the reliability of his words as a whole.
Let's consider the words of civilians in the published material
1. As confirmation of the fact that “Azov” uses local residents as a “human shield”, the Russian media use a video interview of a female refugee from Mariupol. Molfar found the woman’s social media (VK1 and VK2), which confirm that she is indeed from Mariupol, however, she probably held pro-Russian views even before the war. For example, in June 2018, she and her children went to the occupied territory of the DPR: 1 link, 2 link – where she attended a concert in honor of Youth Day, 1 link and 2 link. And also visited the AquaSferra water park: 1 link, 2 link.
2. The article's author, Max Blumenthal, also cites a March 11 video shot in the theater as evidence of local residents being used for “Azov” fighters’ needs. However, the video itself was filmed and provided by Azov fighters to show the public how people live in the occupied city, how they ask for help, including for the evacuation of women and children, which has become almost impossible due to the encirclement of the city by Russian troops.
3. Another argument by Max Blumenthal is a link to a Tweet with a video that does not show neither the date of filming, nor the location, nor the insignia of the military. In addition, the video was posted by a Serbian citizen who has nothing to do with Ukraine and military operations on its territory, and, presumably, is a member of the local nationalist organization “Драганови Пилићи” (“Dragan's Chickens” from Serbian): 1 link, 2 link.
And the final argument is that there is no video of the attack on the theater!
The lack of photo and video materials is explained by a simple fact: a full-scale war is going on in Ukraine, and the city of Mariupol itself, where the attack on the Drama Theater took place, has been surrounded by Russian troops since the beginning of March. Local residents are practically cut off from communications, electricity, and regular food and water supplies. Even humanitarian convoys with the necessary products cannot enter the city through the checkpoints of the Russian military. In such isolation, people simply do not have the technical ability to share enough information, photos and videos from the scene
The results of the investigation
British newspaper The Times published an article, in which a professor at the University of Edinburgh is accused of supporting the propaganda of the Russian government.
Tim Hayward,professor of environmental political theory at the University of Edinburgh, shared the link to the material of Max Blumenthal, in which he asked whether the attack was "staged", and added another pathetic question: "What do we know about reality?".
And we know the following about reality: if you lie, you will be found, your guilt will be proved, you will be deprived of status and regalia, you may even be accused of criminal involvement. In general, with the support of Russian propaganda, the whole civilized world will turn away from you.
Molfar experts are always eager to help find out the truth, and will provide an indisputable amount of evidence against Russian ideologues.