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Taking fake news to fake newspapers – Odessa

February 24, 2017

Following on from yesterday’s entry and the brief mention of an incident relating to the abduction of Odessa MP Alexie Goncharenko, this entry is related – despite the title.

Firstly it is necessary to state that Mr Goncharenko is alive and well.  His abduction being part of a wider SBU operation that has been on-going for several months.

In short, there was indeed a plot to abduct Mr Goncharenko whereupon he was to be tortured, have his kneecaps shattered and also have his eyesight damaged (or lost).  Death was not the desired outcome.

Behind this plot was/is a local politician from Odessa, a Deputy of the Liman District Council, Alexander Krushnarev.

Mr Krushnarev is in fact head of the Opposition Block faction of the Liman Council and the father of the late Gennady Krushnarev who died in the tragic fire of 2nd May in Odessa. Gennady Krushnarev was a member of the pro-Kremlin “Odessa Squad” in 2014 when he died.

It may well be that Mr Krushnarev blames Mr Goncharenko for Odessa rejecting the Novorossiya calling, and perhaps by extension his son’s death.

Though generally not acknowledged, it is undoubtedly true that Mr Goncharenko and “his” politically aligned people played a significant role in defeating an attempt by former-Governor (and Opposition Block MP) Mykola Skoryk to follow the playbook of the “Republics” (as detailed in the Glazyev tapes) within the Oblast Rada.

Indeed Odessa became one of the first Oblast’s to name Russia an aggressor in a Resolution (unlike City Hall which was among the last) again in no small part due to the efforts of Mr Goncharenko and “his people” then within the Oblast Rada.

Mr Goncharenko also swiftly arrived at the tragic fire of 2nd May together with some of his Dumskaya media outlet, but no active part in events did he play (the blog was also present and saw him there).

Thus the usual business interests behind so many similar kidnapping plots are not present.  It would appear to be a mix of personal, political and ideological drivers behind the plotting of Mr Krushnarev.  Prima facie – revenge for many perceived injuries.

Yet there is more to this plot that the abduction of Alexie Goncharenko.

The SBU also intercepted 2.5 tonnes of printed material bearing an uncanny resemblance to an existing newspaper produced by one of the parliamentary parties – but with fake news packed in among genuine articles and opinion from the aforementioned party newspaper.

In short, fake news circulated by a fake newspaper.  A natural progression perhaps?

Also seized by the SBU where numerous booklets and leaflets of an anti-Semitic, and anti-Ukrainian (presumably anti-nationalist) nature judging by the titles of the seized  material – “The Servants of Evil – Ukrainian Nationalism” and the “Odessa Khatyn Bells” etc.

Clearly the intention was to attempt to raise the temperature within and/or the social discontent of society in Odessa.  How successful it would have been will now not be known – although it is extremely unlikely to have provoked anything remotely powerful enough to turn Odessa from Ukraine, or alternatively to embrace The Kremlin as an alternative or friendly entity – thus perhaps it’s intent was to politically return the City and the Oblast to the Opposition Block fold.

What is unclear is whether the two individuals known to have been involved in, and tasked with the Goncharenko abduction (and torture that was to follow) are the same two individuals that are responsible with Mr Krushnarev in the production and distribution of a fraudulent newspaper peddling fake news and material that will surely fall foul of Ukrainian legislation relating to national security, terrorism, incitement etc.

(One of the unnamed detained with Mr Krushnarev is a Russian citizen, but a reader perhaps should not give that too much weight at this stage as there are a large number of Russian citizens resident in Odessa.  More information upon both unnamed also arrested is required.)

Aside from Mr Krushmarev and the two unnamed co-conspirators and/or partners in crime, is anybody else involved?

Obvious questions relate to the where and who created the content, printed and published the material seized?

Who arranged a distribution network?

Was Mr Krushnarev the only financier, or was he a part financier of these deeds?

Who else within the Opposition Block was aware of the plot – if anybody.?

(Little happens within the Opposition Block of Odessa without the knowledge and approval (official or tacit) of Mykola Skoryk – who himself has no love for Mr Goncharenko since he officially requested Mr Skoryk be investigated for his treasonous acts as Governor.)

Would Mr Skoryk, if he was aware, entertain the abduction plot without informing those that control him – Sergei Liovochkin and Dmitry Firtash.  It seems unlikely (though not impossible) that Mr Liovochkin would entertain such an idea (even if Mr Firtash might and Mr Skoryk would).

Nevertheless, this does not seem to be an entirely “local production”.  There is more to this incident – starting with how the seized material came to exit, from its writing to publication.

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