The Ukrainian government has published a blacklist of politicians, pundits and intellectuals whom it accuses of promoting “narratives consonant with Russian propaganda.” Some of those on the list – including the former chief of India’s security – responded with confusion and mockery.
The list was published earlier this month by the ‘Center for Countering Disinformation’ (CCD), a department of the Ukrainian National Security Council set up last year by President Vladimir Zelensky. Since the launch of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine in February, the CCD has published regular reports analyzing coverage of the conflict in the world’s media.
Among more than 75 names on the list is PS Raghavan, the former Head of India’s National Security Council. Raghavan, who also served as India’s ambassador to Russia from 2014 to 2016, is named on the list for suggesting that “Ukraine against Russia is like NATO against Russia.”
Contacted by The Wire, an Indian news site, Raghavan said that he had “no comments to offer on the exercise, other than mystification at my inclusion in this list.”
Sam Pitroda, a former adviser to Indian Prime Ministers Rajiv Gandhi and Manmohan Singh, is also listed, for having suggested that the world “should negotiate with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin.” He said that he was “puzzled and surprised” at his inclusion.
Journalist Saeed Naqvi is the third Indian mentioned on the list. Named for suggesting that Ukraine’s military “success” was an “illusion” born of Western propaganda, he said that Kiev “is paying a very heavy price for a Western misadventure, and they are entitled to their reactions in their desperation.”
US Senator Rand Paul, who has condemned his fellow lawmakers for bankrolling Ukraine’s military while the US economy suffers, is included on the blacklist, as is political scientist John Mearsheimer, who has argued for years that NATO’s eastward expansion would provoke Russia into a conflict that would leave Ukraine “wrecked.”
“When I was a young boy, my mother taught me that when others can’t beat your arguments with facts and logic, they smear you. That is what is going on here,” Mearsheimer told British news site UnHerd.
Historian Edward Luttwak, a supporter of the West’s policy of arming Ukraine, also found himself included on the list for suggesting that Ukraine cannot hope to defeat Russia outright and depose Putin.
“It is a fantasy to believe Russia can be squarely defeated,” he told UnHerd. “In Kiev they have interpreted this stance as meaning I am pro-Russia.”
The CCD does not explain what inclusion on the list means for any of these people, and has not threatened any of them with reprisal. Nor is the list explicitly connected with the Mirotvorets (Peacemaker) database, another list of “pro-Russian terrorists” that names nine-year-old children as enemies of the Ukrainian state. Mirotvorets is believed to be run by the Ukrainian Security Service.
RT contributors Scott Ritter and Bradley Blankenship are also listed, while independent journalist Glenn Greenwald is named for suggesting that “the USA should not provoke Russia into a nuclear war” and that “dangerous biolabs are located in Ukraine,” a fact backed up by US officials.
“The Ukrainians have the absolute right to pursue whatever war policies they want,” Greenwald told UnHerd. “But when they start demanding that my country and my government use its resources to fuel their war effort, then I, along with all other Americans, have the absolute right to question that policy or to point out its dangers and risks.”
Greenwald referred to Kiev’s tactic of “accusing dissidents of spreading ‘Russian propaganda’” as “standard McCarthyite idiocy.”