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Friday, March 7, 2014

The truth about the leaked Maidan sniper story #Ukraine

Dr. Olga Bogomolets,
source of sniper story
Here is the short story behind headlines like this one from RT:

Kiev snipers hired by Maidan leaders
- leaked EU's Ashton phone tape

They are based 100% on hearsay from the woman pictured on the left, Olga Bogomolets. What gets left out of most reports on this "sensational" story is that in the leaked conversation, Estonia Foreign Minister Urmas Paet is telling European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton what Olga Bogomolets told him. He is not telling Ashton what he knows to be fact; he is telling her a rumor he was told by an activist doctor who treated some of the sniper victims. (Paet: "There is this lady called Olga..." [2:27 on tape]) All those who take this story as truth are taking the word of this one woman and all those who peddle this story without making that clear are engaged in a Putin propaganda effort.

This story started with a tape of a leaked conversation posted to YouTube by Michael Bergman and Expertise Centre of The Russian Federation on 5 March 2014. The claim accompanying the video is:
Mr. Paet reveals astonishing information which confirms the rumours that the snipers were employed by the leaders of Maidan.
Wrong! Logic Fault!! You don't confirm a rumor by repeating it.

Within hours of being posted to YouTube, this story was picked up by RT, who has been heavily promoting it ever since, and from there it quickly moved out to all the usual "anti-imperialist" sources. I picked it up in my email over my morning coffee: Kiev Snipers Were Hired by US Supported Opposition Leaders said the pro-Russian Global Research. And the proof? "Leaked EU’s Ashton Phone Tape." Democracy Now carried the same story, Leaked EU Call: Opposition Behind Sniper Shootings in Kiev, Thursday morning. The biggest problem with this taped conversation is that it doesn't prove what these media outlets are saying it proves. The caller is describing rumors that are circulating, not established facts.

On Democracy Now, Amy called the tape "intercepted conversations," a better name for this and the earlier Ukraine related Russian leaked conversation in which Nuland is heard to say "fuck the EU," would be selectively-leaked-conversations. Just like the NSA, the Russians have been busy recording everybody's business, and lately the Russians have been using the tactic of selectively "leaking" little morsels from its find that it thinks will benefit its propaganda efforts. They don't put out all the information they've captured, WikiLeaks style; they just promote little bits they can spin.

In this leaked conversation Estonia Foreign Minister Urmas Paet tells European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton that a doctor name Olga Bogomolets says that:
"All the evidence shows that people who were killed by snipers, from both sides, among policemen and then people from the streets, that they were the same snipers killing people from both sides."

"So that—and then she also showed me some photos. She said that, as medical doctor, she can say that it is the same handwriting, the same type of bullets. And it’s really disturbing that now the new coalition, that they don’t want to investigate what exactly happened, so that there is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new coalition."
Whatever you want to make of this conversation, it is important to remember that it rests entirely on the opinion of a doctor who treated people shot by snipers in Kiev. This is the same doctor, by the way, that treated Viktor Yushchenko for food poisoning in 2004.

Estonian diplomat Utmas Paet isn't telling Catherine Ashton that he knows this, he is telling her what he has been told by an activist doctor about rumors going around.This is hardly definitive proof justifying the RT or Democracy Now headlines. That's not how RT reported the story. They leave the doctor out of it and tell us:
"Urmas Paet said that snipers who shot at protesters and police in Kiev were hired by Maidan leaders."
This doctor claims to know that "they were the same snipers killing people from both sides" because they had "the same handwriting, the same type of bullets." I've known doctors who think they know everything, but I'm not sure this doctor can know that much just from treating the wounds. I am reminded of Carla Del Ponte's claim that it was the opposition that used sarin in Syria based on "the way the victims were treated" by doctors in Turkey.

Hours after RT first broke the story, they broke another one which seemed to back up the first story:

but he only confirmed that it was an accurate recording of their conversation, not that what was said reflected the facts.

Today CNN is reporting:
Paet's office released a statement Wednesday that confirmed the authenticity of the recording. It said the call took place on February 26.

"Foreign Minister Paet was giving an overview of what he had heard the previous day in Kiev and expressed concern over the situation on the ground. We reject the claim that Paet was giving an assessment of the opposition's involvement in the violence," the statement read.

"It is extremely regrettable that phone calls are being intercepted," said Paet in the same statement. "The fact that this phone call has been leaked is not a coincidence."
So now we will await a retraction from Global Research and Amy. Would it be too much to ask that they join Liz Wahl and jump the Putin boat entirely?

UPDATED 8 Mar 2014: The Toronto Star reports that Olga Bogomolets says that the reported conversation with Urmas Paet never happened:
The Olga in question was identified by Russian media as Olga Bogomolets, a Ukrainian doctor who worked throughout the clashes to treat wounded.

Told of the tape, however, Bogomolets denied having any such conversation. She said she has no such evidence as she was never in a position to compare wounds.

“During the entire confrontation in Kyiv, I did not have access to law enforcement officers who died, and therefore I could not give any information on the nature of the injuries,” she told Ukrainska Pravda.

“I’m a doctor, not a forensic medical examiner to give this kind of assessment.”
Which sounds like she agrees with me that a doctor couldn't know that victims were shot by the same sniper just by examining the wounds. And actually, I was wondering if the cops and activists would have been treated by the same doctors. Now that question is answered.

So now the ball is in Paet's court. He now needs to say where the story came from. Ashton may be the headliner, but she was just the patsy, all she did was listen while Paet told the tale that made the tape that then got leaked.

1 comment:

  1. Jeeeeezus you're such a twat. There's a reason your were kicked of daily kos. You're just a blogger with 444 followers. And you had to follow 244 just half of them.