Last week, an event took place in the European Parliament organized by Latvian MEP Tatyana Zhdanok to allegedly commemorate the Odessa tragedy, when more than 40 people died in a trade union building as a result of a riot.
Zhdanok also invited Russian-speaking Odessa activists and western journalists loyal to Kremlin to create an impression that Europe condemns Ukraine.
Zhdanok had organized another similar event in 2014. During that event, Zhdanok tried to pin the blame for those deaths on Ukrainian authorities. A Ukrainian delegation had attended this event, however. They accused Zhdanok of misinterpreting the truth. This year Zhdanok was more careful – she only announced the event at the last moment. Ukraine did not send a delegation. The event was attended by Estonian representative Jana Tooma and Andrei Mamikin from Harmony, as reported by Nekā personīga programme of TV3.
The event started with a small film about Odessa by journalist Ulrik Hayden. In this film, Russian speaking activists accuse Ukraine of fascism. Hayden also admitted not trying to speak with the Ukrainian side. He said enough information was provided to him by anti-Maidan movement.
Zhdanok had presented Hayden as a German researcher. Calling him that, however, is rather conditional, because Hayden has been working in Moscow since 1992. At the event, the journalist lamented that serious German media do not consider him seriously and that they did not attend the presentation of his film in Berlin.
Zhdanok also allowed Belgian communist, journalist Michel Collon. He supported the theory that Ukrainian Nazis plot against Russia in the name of American and Jewish imperialists. The Belgian journalist also believes certain signs of Nazism are found in Baltic States. ‘What we see now in western media is the demonization of Vladimir Putin’s policy. You may have your own opinion on the matter, you may agree or disagree with his economic or social policy, but who respects the UN charter in relation to respecting international legality and who violates laws? Russia respects laws; USA and Europe breach them,’ – said Collon.
The presence of Andrei Mamikin, supporter of Donetsk separatists, hater of America and promoter of Putin, was especially interesting. One year ago, in an interview to Ukrainian TV station Radio Svoboda, he had figuratively compared Zhdanok to Joseph Goebbels. «Goebbels was right in the sense that his propaganda worked when it was alive. But believe me, there are 761 MEPs in the European Parliament. All of them have their own opinion and view, which differ from that of Zhdanok. I am also a Russian person in a way. My mother tongue is Russian. I live in the Republic of Latvia. I represent the country here and I do not believe it is easy to call me a propagandist of Vladimir Putin’s regime. Believe me, there are many more supporters of Ukraine’s integration in Europe than those who are against it,» – Mamikin said last year.
«I remain on Ukraine’s side, the side of Ukraine’s people. I was among those who voted in favour of the association agreement between the EU and Ukraine. I do not really care who I work with. I care about the truth. Answering the question as to why people died in the Odessa trade union building – I don’t care who offers me to look for the truth. I don’t care who offers me assistance. If principles coincide why we cannot cooperate, including with Tatyana Zhdanok,» – said Mamikin.
It is possible that the answer to the change of Mamikin’s position lies in the person who sat at the table of the gathering but did not read a speech. Before and after the gathering, he had spent a lot of time in conversations with Mamikin and Zhdanok. Anton Ilyin has been a representative of the Russian Orthodox Church in Europe for the past 11 years. Lately, however, his duty has been different. He is a representative of Russkiy Mir organization in Europe. He is also an advisor of Russkiy Mir Chairman Vyacheslav Nikonov.
Ukrainian authorities consider Russkiy Mir one of the most financially influential tools of the Kremlin. Ukrainian authorities believe Russkiy Mir contributes to separatism and blackening Ukraine’s image in other countries. ‘They express everything either through party structures or so-called independent structures. But these structures are always either related to the Russian government or pro-Russian parties. The Russian Orthodox Church is one other elements they actively use,’ – comments Ukrainian Information Policy Minister’s assistant Tatyana Popova.
All three of Russia’s largest television companies had also attended Zhdanok’s organized events.