Case Denisova: What you can write and talk about in wartime

Denisova's case: What can be written and talked about in wartime

The article in Ukrayinska Pravda about the reasons for the dismissal of Lyudmila Denisova caused an extremely heated discussion. Opinions, as always, are sharply divided: some support the editors of the media, which revealed the truth about the sources of sensational news about the rape of children by Russians. Others accuse journalists of aiding the Kremlin and working for Putin's propaganda.

Such disputes are not new to us. But here the question is broader: do any means of achieving it justify the goal of counter-propaganda, and what can be said during the war and what is not?

A lesson for all officials

– Everything that is written in ” Ukrayinska Pravda,” I knew even before Lyudmila Denisova was fired,” says Volodymyr Fesenko, head of the Penta Center for Applied Political Research. – False, undocumented information cannot come from a person who is in public office. It was a banal hype and self-promotion, which created a lot of problems.

Volodymyr Fesenko: Unreliable, undocumented information cannot come from a person who is in a public position

The political scientist believes that sooner or later, in Ukrayinska Pravda or on another resource, the information would still become public.

– The question is only in the form of how to submit it. Yes, Russian propaganda can take advantage of it, so we must constantly emphasize that there are facts of rape and other crimes, they are irrefutable and documented. International investigators are working with them. But if fakes come from officials, then this should also be discussed. This is a lesson for all officials for the future, so that they think not about self-promotion, but about the state interest.

We speak and write according to our understanding of the truth

Representative of the Donetsk region in the Trilateral Contact Group Sergey Garmash two weeks took exams at the Faculty of Journalism of the Kyiv National University. He says that the topic of public morality and ethics was discussed very hotly.

Sergei Garmash: Lies disorientate people, and everything we say and write is not for Russians, not according to their patterns

– I think that first of all, you need to tell the truth. It is sacred, whether war or not war. Lies disorientate people, and everything we say and write is not for Russians, not according to their patterns. This is according to our understanding of the truth.

The publicist believes that in wartime it is also necessary to take into account the undermined psyche of people.

– Some information, which in normal times would be perceived as sensational, is now better not to give. To spare people who are constantly under stress. When I read Denisova's story about how two 2-year-old brothers were raped in Kherson in front of their mother, I was shocked. Such atrocity is even hard to imagine, I'm still not sure that it's true. But even more I was shocked that this is voiced. If there was such a fact, it must be transferred to international investigators, otherwise it is better not to speak.

As for criticism of officials and authorities, which many would like to taboo during the war, Sergey Garmash is sure that criticism is appropriate if it is deserved.

– This is the main function of journalism. The main thing is that criticism should be constructive and competent. If you are not a military man, then do not express an opinion about “why they surrendered the city.” Because you don't know what the strategic goal was.

When fiction is justified

– Earning a reputation is extremely difficult, you can lose it in an instant. Case Denisova – about this, she touched on a very painful matter. If such information is released to the public, it must be triple checked. Pay attention to Alexei Arestovich. He is criticized by many, but he often uses the phrase: “according to information that must be further verified.” This context completely changes the perception, – says a military journalist, former head of the press service of the General Staff, Colonel Vladislav Seleznev.

The expert notes that the entire global information community reacts subtly to fake stories.

– Why is it so easy to work with the Russian propaganda machine? Because a stamp has formed: everything they say is a lie, you can’t believe it. It plays into our hands. Moreover, we cannot afford to talk about something that someone might doubt.

Vladislav Seleznev recalls how he himself once gave false information. But he does not regret it at all.

– August 2014, combat aviation is working. A MiG-29 pilot is shot down near Gorlovka. The pilot is alive, special forces are sent to rescue him. General Sergey Drozdov addresses me: “Vlad, they know you, both ours and the separatists listen to you. Come out with a message that the plane was shot down, crashed in the Torez area. I am voicing this, and while theirs was looking for a pilot in that direction, ours found him and evacuated. From an ethical point of view, I told a lie, from a professional point of view, I did everything right.

Vladislav Seleznev: It's easy to work with the Russian propaganda machine – a cliche has formed: everything they say is a lie, you can't believe

Fiction, Vlad sums up, is justified only to save.

From the history of the issue

In short, the UP correspondent, referring to anonymous sources, says that the former Ombudsman could not confirm in any way the sexual atrocities she wrote about and then spoke about in Davos . Calls received on a dedicated “hot line” of Denisova's daughter, Alexandra Kvitko, were not recorded. Instead of the declared UNICEF psychologists, ordinary operators worked. Denisova's daughter said that about 1040 calls were received, of which 450 were related to child rape, but the prosecutor's office established only 92 connections.

Sexual crimes have become a terrible hallmark of Russian aggression, the prosecutor's office has opened many criminal cases. But there was no factual evidence from the “Kvitko line”, while Denisova told more and more terrible stories. During interrogation, she allegedly admitted that she so wanted to help Ukraine win.

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