Why Russian Press-Tour for Foreign Media is a Provocation

Landscape of Mariupol, Azovstal steel plant in the background / Photo credits: AFP, The Guardian, Getty Images
Landscape of Mariupol, Azovstal steel plant in the background / Photo credits: AFP, The Guardian, Getty Images

Russian occupiers have prepared a "press tour" for foreign media representatives from Western, Eastern and other countries and also for their own propaganda resources. What looks like an opportunity to disclose the true state of affairs actually makes international media accomplices of russian aggression. And here is why

Defense Intelligence of Ukraine warned on May 17, that a special event is organized by russian occupation "authorities". The "press-tour for foreign media", as they call it, is held on May 18–21, Interfax-Ukraine reports. The most important stage of this "large-scale political provocation", according to the Ukrainian defense ministry, is to show the ruined districts of Mariupol to the media representatives.

According to the data collected by intelligence, russians have already prepared for that: they brought fragments of Ukrainian ammunition collected from all occupied territories and transferred "local eyewitnesses" comprised of paid actors to tell the media about the "crimes" of the Mariupol garrison.

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Mariupol, Ukraine, March 2022 / Why Russian Press-Tour for Foreign Media is a Provocation
Mariupol, photo shot in late March 2022. / Photo credit: Alexey Kudenko, Associated Press

The "decorations" are aimed to discredit Ukraine's role in this war, claimed Oleksandr Tkachenko, the Minister of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine.

"We highlight that such behavior of ruscists will only contribute to spreading their propaganda statements and narratives. We can't talk about press tours to places controlled by the enemy. Because they can stage any picture that is favorable for russia," the official said at the briefing at Ukraine Media Center.

The minister also emphasized that any activity of the media in the occupied territories is regulated according to Ukrainian and international law. He pointed out the illegal crossing of the state border and the demarcation line which is scheduled by the occupiers.

Why Russian Press-Tour for Foreign Media is a Provocation / Evgeniy Maloletka points at the smoke rising after an airstrike on a maternity hospital, in Mariupol, Ukraine
Associated Press photographer Evgeniy Maloletka points at the smoke rising after an airstrike on a maternity hospital, in Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022. / Caption & Photo credit: Mstyslav Chernov for Associated Press

This fact of illegal crossing can be found out from the papers published by Oleksandr Kovalenko, the military and political columnist at Information Resistance. He stated that a group of journalists arrived in russian city Rostov-on-Don across the Ukrainian border which violates the legislation of Ukraine. The destination would be the occupied city of Simferopol.

"In my opinion, it is the same as if in 1943 the Nazis organized press tours to Auschwitz for foreign journalists. They would be shown how fed, provided with water are the Jews, how ecologically clean are the places the prisoners are kept in, and how well hygiene is respected together with regular showering…"

Why Russian Press-Tour for Foreign Media is a Provocation / People prepare for the night in the improvised bomb shelter in Mariupol, Ukraine
People prepare for the night in the improvised bomb shelter in a sports center, in Mariupol, Ukraine, late Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022. / Caption: The Seattle Times / Photo credit: Mstyslav Chernov for Associated Press

The columnist called out to the media to abstain from complicity with the occupiers. He said that following their rules is a disgrace and even a crime, recalling that media supporting Hitler's propaganda were recognized as accomplices of his crimes against humanity.

In addition, Kovalenko published the list of media representatives invited to this "press tour". It includes journalists and photographers from France, the United States of America, Germany, Japan, Greece, China, Belarus, India, Venezuela, Bulgaria and the UAE to participate in the "press tour". Some major media are present there: Associated Press, France Press, Al Jazeera, EPA, and many more.

Ministry of culture, too, urged all foreign media representatives to refrain from participating in "this theater of russian propaganda", especially in the temporarily occupied territories, and condemned the invaders' intentions to distort the real situation in Mariupol and other Ukrainian cities.

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