Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 19.10.2018
A bombing and shooting killed and injured many people in Kerch, Crimea, Ukraine on October 17. Ukrainians are in shock at what happened to their countrymen and women on Wednesday. Condolences were expressed to the Ukrainian people and their government by leaders from around the world. But a reader or viewer of the mainstream Western press would be very confused about what happened on Ukraine’s southern peninsula. Most news outlets focussed exclusively on the reaction of a foreign country, beyond where the attack occurred: they talked about the Russian Federation. Russo-centric news media failed their audience badly by reporting what “Russia said” and ignoring the words and actions of Ukrainians about an event that happened in Ukraine.
A CNN International headline read, “Russians struggle to come to terms with a horrific US-style school shooting in Crimea.” CNN gave no word about how Ukrainians are coming to terms with Putin’s war against them, the consequences of which are revealed in the Kerch mass murder.
Canada’s CBC had a headline saying “PM believes student attacker had help.” The CBC news article referred without explanation to Sergei “The Goblin” Aksyonov as if he were the “prime minister” of Crimea. Aksyonov is, in fact, a sanctioned individual by Canada and other countries and a wanted criminal in Ukraine.
Britain’s Daily Mail put “Crimea announces three days of national mourning” in a headline. The Daily Mail did not say which “Crimea” made this announcement. Was it the Autonomous Republic of Crimea as an integral part of Ukraine? Or was it the so-called Republic of Crimea as a purported part of the Russian Federation? The confused reader of the Daily Mail would have no way of knowing.
The BBC reported that Putin said the gun and bomb attack on a college in Crimea “appears to be a result of globalization.” The BBC refused to report what the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, said after the attack. He said that “when Ukrainian citizens perish, wherever it is happening, it is a tragedy. I wish to express my sympathy to Ukrainians who have lost children and loved ones.”
Russo-centric Western news media are being careless at best and biased in favour of the Kremlin at worst. Their reportage about Crimea does not sufficiently recognize that this is integral Ukrainian territory, temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation. Residents of Crimea are Ukrainian citizens, no matter what the Putin regime may say. So-called authorities in Crimea who come from Muscovy have no legitimate authority on Ukrainian land over Ukrainian people.
Leaders of Western democracies mostly get it right. The President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili, expressed his condolences to the people of Ukraine in connection with the tragedy in Kerch. “I express my deep sorrow and condolences in connection with the explosion that claimed life in Ukraine,” he said.
Canada offered its deepest condolences “following the attack at the Kerch Polytechnic College in Crimea, Ukraine” (the wording of a statement from Global Affairs Canada). “Canada remains steadfast in its support for the people of Crimea, who have endured extreme suffering since 2014, and we stand in solidarity with them,” said Canada’s Foreign Minister, Chrystia Freeland. “We reiterate our unreserved condemnation of Russia’s illegal annexation and invasion of Crimea,” she said.
The West’s democratic leaders and the people of Ukraine have the right instincts, and express their condolences to the families and friends of the victims and to Ukrainians living in Crimea who are affected by the bombing and shooting attack in Kerch.
Mainstream Western news media have all the wrong instincts, reporting what “Russia says” about an event in Kerch, Crimea, Ukraine (temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation). Putin didn’t get a propaganda victory out of the Kerch attack because it did not turn out to be a terrorist attack which he could blame on Ukrainians, and because official condolences are not being expressed either to him or to the Russian Federation. Putin did get a propaganda victory from the Russo-centric Western press, which reported news from Crimea as if it was news from Russia. Reporting about Ukrainians, mainstream media ignores Ukraine.