One NED-sponsored journalist even fights with the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion and openly advocates for the commission of war crimes.
Throughout this war, one of the most prolific voices has been the Kyiv Independent. Through both its website and its Twitter account, it has been posting a nearly endless stream of unconfirmed and often fantastical pro-Ukrainian propaganda along with unverified, and often unattributed tales of the latest Russian atrocities.
Despite never offering even a scrap of evidence, however, it exploded from a few thousand followers before the war to several million now, with millions more following its individual reporters. It is routinely promoted by some of the biggest names in media, such as CNN and Fox News.
Let’s take a look at one tweet in particular, as an example of this. On March 30, the Kyiv Independent tweeted this:
We can see here a blending between truth and lies. While strikes would hit the warehouse, and the Red Cross would confirm that (and also, that it had been abandoned for more than two weeks by that time and all aid was distributed), no evidence was given that the strikes were Russian and the Red Cross did not comment on it.
The only source for the claim that the attacks were Russian is the Azov Battalion, putting the credibility of the statement into serious doubt. Kyiv Independent does not tell you this.
Despite this being posted with no evidence in the first place, the tweet was re-tweeted 12,000 times. How many people could this piece of literal Nazi propaganda have reached?
This outfit is well-funded and well-run. They can and do produce large amounts of good-quality English-language content very quickly. The market for this content, obviously, is not Ukrainians, but the West.
It is important to understand just how a propaganda network like this works. This blending of truth and lie is very common. The terrible realities of war mean that there is always plenty of information to report. Attacks and counterattacks. Bombs falling here. Shells there. Deaths and fires.
Much of this is probably accurate information. The sheer volume of it, combined with all the promotion, paid or otherwise, means that soon you will see Kyiv Independent reports on every screen, every day.
However, you only get one side of the issue. It is illegal to report on Ukrainian military casualties. This means that all you will see is dead Russians, burning Russian tanks and the wreckage of Russian aircraft. This creates an image of an invincible Ukrainian Army, killing Russians by the thousands with no losses of their own.
Meanwhile, every shell and bomb that hits a Ukrainian city is relentlessly covered. This means that the Russians are simultaneously portrayed as an omnipresent bogeyman, but also as incompetent cowards. Umberto Eco’s words about shifting rhetorical focus are relevant here.
Peppered in the endless streams of more mundane reporting, however, are the increasingly unhinged calls for escalation. Worse yet, at some points the mask comes off entirely, such as in this bizarre article which seems to both downplay nuclear war, and cast it as an acceptable price to pay for Ukrainian victory, all while accusing Putin of being the nuclear threat.
It is clear that the editorial position of this paper is that the war should escalate, more people should die and, if necessary, Russia, and therefore the Russian people, should be annihilated with nuclear weapons. More than that, their position seems to be that we cannot afford NOT to do so.
No one would win World War III. Not even the reporters at Kyiv Independent. No one except the arms dealers. This outfit has greatly outsized reach with which to spread these ideas.
The paper was founded in 2021 after the staff of the Kyiv Post walked out en masse after the paper came under new ownership. While it is presented as a valiant attempt to retain editorial control, the seed funding the Post received from the Canadian Government and European Endowment for Democracy (the EU equivalent of the NED) tells another tale.
Indeed, if you look more closely at the staff, a pattern of collaboration with NATO regime-change operations becomes very clear.
Meet the team:
Olga Rudenko, Editor-in-Chief:
According to her Linkedin page, she worked for three years with an organization called the Objective Investigative Reporting Project as a grant coordinator for independent journalists. A little digging finds that she is referring to this, for which no unpacking is necessary, given as the sidebar tells us what we need to know.
“Launched in July 2013, Objective is a new media development project and joint venture of Niras/BBC funded by the Danish Foreign Ministry. The project will run for four years in seven countries–Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey.”
It appears that Miss Rudenko’s primary role was to disperse funding to journalists writing about corruption, particularly focusing on Ukrainian oligarchs.
While they claimed to have done investigative reporting in Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey, it seems they mostly focused on Ukraine and Moldova. These articles were then given away to a variety of papers in Ukraine, meaning that the enterprise did not make any money.
How Rudenko was able to get enough foreign funding to support an entire team of journalists working for years in multiple countries is unclear. It is possible that there is some connection to the Media Development Fund, which she would co-found the same year as the aims and methods of the two are quite similar.
Prior to this she was not a particularly distinguished reporter, working mostly as a staff reporter for Kyiv Post. Before that, she would work as a foreign freelancer for Associated Reporters Abroad, under which she wrote stories for various American and overseas press agencies. Her articles in this role were numerous, but seem to be mostly routine stringer work. She worked her way up the ranks to become an editor at the Kyiv Post before leaving with the rest of the staff in 2021 to found the Kyiv Independent.
She would also become a fellow of the Wilson Center at some point, another U.S. government-funded think tank for which she has also written some news articles.
Jakub Parusinski, CFO:
The consulting firm was heavily involved in the Opioid crisis, the Enron scandal and even helped fix bread prices in Canada. Their government work includes helping the Saudi Arabian regime identify and murder dissidents and helping South African utility companies steal and launder millions of dollars from the impoverished South African people among many, many other crimes. While we cannot confirm exactly what Mr. Parusinski was involved with at McKinsey, it certainly was not benevolent.
He also worked for the International Center for Policy Studies. This is a think tank founded in 1994 by the Soros-run Open Society Institute, and funded in large part by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, which was founded by the German government and is currently funded by USAID more than any other donor (view page 20).
He would later go on to found the Media Development Foundation (MDF) with Daryna Shevchenko and Olga Rudenko. The MDF is an organization that seems to exist primarily to spread money from the NED, USAID, NATO and Internews (which is itself 90% government-funded) to the so-called independent press of Ukraine.
They do this by training and recruiting reporters throughout Ukraine, creating an army of freelance reporters who can be used as a content mill to expand the operations of regional papers, who they then support with grants, advertising support and search-engine optimization. The papers benefit from the increased revenues, and the freelance journalists are guaranteed work. This allows the MDF and NED to set up a network of influence throughout Ukraine, from some of the largest papers to those serving towns of a few thousand.
In later articles, I will elaborate on this, but the network is quite extensive. As you can see from their documents, they are in up to their heads in NATO regime-change cash.
Daryna Shevchenko, CEO:
Her background is another juicy one, working for a company called IREX. IREX is a global education and development NGO created by the Ford Foundation and U.S. Department of State in 1968 and funded by them to such an extent that its financial disclosure form says the following:
“IREX receives funds from the U.S. Department of State (DOS), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), other Federal agencies, and private-sector sources. Approximately 86 percent and 90 percent of the funds received in 2020 and 2019 including cost share, respectively, were through awards from the U.S. Government.”
She was also a co-founder of the Media Development Foundation which, as mentioned above, works with both the National Endowment for Democracy, a CIA offshoot founded in the 1980s to advance U.S. soft power, and the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv before getting together with Jakub to found Jnomics Media, then the Kyiv Independent. According to her Facebook page, she also did a stint at the Institute for the Development of the Regional Press, another NGO with USAID funding, quite openly so in this case.
Outside of her NGO work, Miss Shevchenko was also a reporter at the Kyiv Post. Her reporting there was mostly vanilla with some vague peppering of nationalism, writing about entertainment, fashion, food, and a weekly interview column. She would continue on this path until the Maidan coup in 2014, when she dove head-first into political reporting. She works mostly as an executive these days, only releasing an occasional article, usually in support of her projects with the MDF or Kyiv Independent.
A perusal of Ms. Shevchenko’s Facebook page reveals that she has some long-running sympathies for the far right, laying wreaths on monuments to fascist terrorists all the way back to 2011.
She is also a fan of books by nationalist author Vasyl Shkliar, who writes fantastical and heroic tales about fascist murderers responsible for the deaths of thousands.
Oleksiy Sorokin, COO:
Sorokin is one of the busier reporters for Kyiv Independent, no doubt leveraging his native fluency in English (he is Canadian-born and attended college in Toronto) to be the paper’s de facto international correspondent. A quick Google search shows he has worked with the Canadian, British, and American press within the recent past.
Sorokin started as an intern for Transparency International, which, according to its own disclosures, is funded by the U.S. Department of State, UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, and the Foreign offices of many other NATO/U.S.-aligned states.
He then went straight into the COO and editor job after only three years’ experience as a reporter. This man is very young, only graduating college in 2018. While he lacks the same ties his co-workers have to NATO intelligence, we can say that his years with the Kyiv Independent have considerably deepened them.
Illia Ponomarenko, Azov Battalion Member
Illia is one of the most famous reporters on this war, with his personal Twitter account having more than one million followers. He has appeared on Fox News and written for The Guardian and USA Today.
He attended a very odd university, Mariupol State University, that is heavily funded by USAID and other NATO NGOs, from which he graduated with a degree in international relations. He had an internship in the United States cut short by COVID and, after returning, went straight into his war reporting, befriending neo-Nazi militia commanders along the way.
The university is a strange tale. Formed only in 1991, it is, again, openly USAID funded. Its rector, Mykola Trofymenko, was appointed to the job in 2020 at age 35. The university seems to be very much NATO-aligned, as we can see here from Illia’s professor Lidia Shevchenko who was a delegate at NATO headquarters in Brussels .
During the invasion, Illia has been absolutely prolific, posting nearly endless streams of unconfirmed statements with no evidence or attribution, which are gobbled up by a credulous American press and public. He has become one of the most brazen and least credible propagandists since “Baghdad Bob” during the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
What is very credible, however, is his tie to and friendship with Azov. He lacks even the shame to scrub this evidence from his Twitter account before going on Fox News, and the Western press either does not know or, more likely, simply does not care.
These photos are from Illia’s Facebook page, from an artillery training exercise he attended with his Nazi pals.
In a new low even for him, on March 27, 2022, in response to widely circulated videos of Ukrainian fascists torturing and kneecapping Russian prisoners, Illia not only made no apologies for their crimes, but called for further atrocities.
These are the kinds of people U.S., Canadian and European taxpayer dollars are supporting!
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About the Author
Evan Reif was born in a small mining town in Western South Dakota as the son of a miner and a librarian.
His father’s struggles as a union organizer, and the community’s struggles with de-industrialization, nurtured Evan’s deep interest in left-wing politics. This, along with his love of history, made him a staunch anti-fascist.
When not writing, researching or working, Evan enjoys fishing, shooting, and Chinese cooking.